working overtime

3 ways to prevent working overtime

Working overtime may be one of the most frequently mentioned topics by employees. 

Working overtime has become a controversial topic at the corporate level to the point where labor legislation tends to be very strict in its regulation, or at least in theory. Labor legislation determines and establishes what qualifies as working overtime; this includes the different types of overtime at work, the pay during overtime, and other aspects. 

This indicates that for various reasons, whether or not it is justified or due to an urgent cause, overtime is sometimes unavoidable at work. For this reason, the employee must be vigilant that working overtime does not become abusive and affect their psychological well-being.

working overtime

Factors that encourage working overtime

How often have we heard or uttered phrases such as “I actually left on time yesterday” or “Do you have longer hours even though it’s not on your schedule?” The first phrase is usually said with a tone of surprise, as if getting off work on time was something new or rare in everyday life. The second phrase is usually said in a normalized tone as if we should understand, as this is often the case. 

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Although we do not know the exact science behind the feelings these phrases conjure, it is normal to feel a sense of discomfort when saying them.

1. Poor work organization

Sometimes working overtime happens because we are not able to perform the assigned tasks in the time available due to bad organization, which leads to wasting time or using it inefficiently. In these cases, there is no sensible order in the completion of tasks, they are not prioritized correctly, or the level of urgency of each one of them is not measured correctly.

2. Poorly structured teams

Unfortunately, understaffed companies tend to take on more than they can handle. Due to recruitment problems, the present employees often take on more than they can manage with their schedules, leading them to work overtime.

3. Quantity-based corporate culture

The previous point would not be included if companies valued the quality of life of their employees over increasing productivity at all costs. In such cases, managers should be more attentive to the employees rather than allowing – or pressuring – the team to continue to function beyond its official schedule and capabilities. Presenteeism is another factor that can influence this phenomenon.

4. Misunderstood commitment to the company

Professionalism, responsibility, and commitment are fundamental values for exemplary performance. However, sometimes people develop an excessive devotion to corporate objectives, which leads them to work overtime. This may be suitable in the short term for productivity, but it could be more detrimental in the long term for the employees’ psychological well-being.

Consequences of working overtime

Working overtime is not only a question of the use or misuse of time. In fact, behind this time management, when working overtime is continuous, there are problems in employees’ psychological well-being that will be detrimental to their performance and commitment to the company, so the company will end up paying the consequences.

1. Burnout

Burnout syndrome is one of the main risks employees face when they give significant amounts of their time to the company, especially if they do not receive consistent compensation.

2. Work-related stress

Stress at work is not only caused by having to do many things in a limited amount of time but also by spending a lot of time – specifically more than the stipulated amount – working.

3. Lack of work-life balance

If employees devote a lot of their effort to overtime at work, they are not spending that time – or that energy – on other aspects of their lives that are equally important for their psychological well-being. HR managers should be clear that where there is overtime at work, it should be seen as, among other things, a lack of work-life balance.

4. Loss of Talent

In many cases, the consequence of working overtime can be the deterioration of the employee’s motivation and, therefore, their commitment to the company. They will likely leave for another organization where they will be offered better physical and psychological work conditions.

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Preventing overtime abuse at work

When employees are persistently urged to work overtime, especially if they are not adequately paid, it is necessary to consider what message the employee receives about the company: is it well managed in terms of task organization, does it consider the human cost that can result from a systematic accumulation of overtime?

1. Good organization of work

If poor organization of tasks is an apparent factor in excess hours spent at work, there are easy, accessible solutions to this. It is fundamental to avoid distractions, know each day’s tasks quickly, and prioritize them according to their importance.

2. Good team structuring

Preventing employees from working overtime involves, among other things, building an appropriate team in terms of professional profiles and the number of people in it so that the distribution of tasks is as balanced as possible.

3. Forms of compensation

In addition to preventing abuse or working overtime, companies need to be realistically aware of the overtime work performed by their employees. This will allow them to compensate them adequately in the form of time, money, or other benefits.

working overtime

Fostering emotional well-being in organizations

Getting involved at work is good, but if our commitment -or the commitment promoted by our company- puts our psychological well-being at risk, then there are some things we need to address.

Focusing particularly on this psychological element, at ifeel, we offer you our global emotional well-being program for companies, designed by our team of expert psychologists in well-being at work. This collaboration allows managers in the People, Talent, and Human Resources area to receive personalized, data-based advice on the best care for the psychological well-being of the teams under their charge. 

Do you belong to your organization’s Human Resources department? Try our program now to see how it could help you.

In addition, our program offers all employees a complete mental health care service that includes emotional support and online therapy with one of our professionals. 

Moreover, in our Resources section, you can find different materials, such as podcasts, HR guides on various topics (e.g., employee experience or how to design a good HR strategy), or Interviews with leading HR managers. In addition, we have a Psychosocial Risk Factors Template, which you can use to comply with the requirements of the Labor Inspection.

We hope you found this post on working overtime interesting. If you would like more information about our emotional well-being program for companies, all you have to do is request it, and we will contact your team as soon as possible.

Is working overtime unavoidable?

Most of the time, yes, or it should be. However, only some things can be foreseen, and unforeseen needs may arise that cause the schedule to extend beyond the official plan.

Do overtime hours at work have consequences on employees’ well-being?

If they are punctual, they should not have severe consequences. The problem for the well-being of employees is when they occur regularly. In those cases, they generate excellent physical and psychological wear and tear.

Why do we sometimes choose to work overtime?

Sometimes there is no pressure from the company. However, employees feel they have to put extra resources into their work, either because they need to neglect other aspects of their lives or because they need money, and overtime at work is a means of acquiring it.

What should companies do about employees who work overtime?

Working overtime indicates that something is occurring with the organization, and volume of tasks, and the team’s structure. Along with taking note of this, companies must pay them under labor legislation.

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