If you offer overtime as a benefit to your teams, perhaps at times of peak demand, or even as a regular way of filling gaps in your shifts and rotas, you’ll never be short of volunteers. After all, everyone welcomes the chance to put more in their pay packet, particularly at expensive times of the year like the run-up to Christmas.
But while the extra cash has obvious advantages, the downside to working all those extra hours can be more damaging than simply getting tired. HR managers have a responsibility to ensure staff attain a work-life balance, a key part of supporting mental wellbeing in the workplace, now recognised as being crucial alongside health wellbeing.
Without the benefit of modern time and attendance software, HR teams will find it hard to track just how much overtime some people are clocking up. Sure, they’ll notice when totting up extra hours at payroll time, but by then the work has been done. Overall, the amount of overtime in the UK is falling. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average Brit worked just one hour overtime a week in 2017 compared to 2.2 hours in 2007. However, in some sectors, like manufacturing, the current weekly average is 3.3 hours.
The importance of work-life balance
It may not be immediately apparent to each member of staff, but mental wellbeing links with work-life balance. The key is understanding that working is a means to an end, and that end is earning enough money to support ourselves and our family. Hopefully, we can cover the bills and enjoy a little spare for treats and leisure time. Work too long, and we don’t have as much time to spend with our friends or loved ones or to unwind with recreational activities.
When this balance goes out of sync, it changes how we feel emotionally, and in some cases, this can lead to mental health issues. We may end up taking sick leave or even packing in the job altogether.
Helping staff get the right balance
It’s up to employers to encourage staff to take breaks and not overdo the overtime opportunities. By using time and attendance software, HR teams, particularly in seasonally intensive or production-heavy sectors, can keep a real-time check on everything.
A bespoke online dashboard shows how many hours a member of staff has worked at the touch of a button— while filters alert management to any unusually high periods of overtime that not only push staff too far physically and emotionally but might not be compliant with local legislation. Time and attendance tracking systems help management spot patternsifone or two members of staff are regularly taking overtime to cover for colleagues’ holidays or routine sick leave.
It could be that hiring an extra member of staff in that team will mean shifts are better covered. Staff will not face burn out, and in business terms, the extra wages and productivity will be more efficient than paying extra for overtime hours.
HR teams need to watch for “bad” overtime
While spikes in demand is behind a lot of overtime, sometimes there is a staffing issue to address. Rogue employees might be clocking in for friends; there may be extensive tardiness or absenteeism which slows production. Unwary management might plug the gap with unnecessary overtime to keep the show running.
You get a more efficient and engaged workforce without having to pay the additional expense of overtime. Now, when you do need to offer extra hours, it’s a true benefit, not a chore that affects staff’s work-life balance.