Managing

Employees are doing more unpaid overtime, and they’re not happy about it: How businesses should respond

Patrick Stafford /

Businesses need to quickly hire new staff or risk losing the employees they already have, as more employers say their staff are burning out on unpaid overtime.

A new survey from recruitment group Hays has found one quarter of employers say their staff are doing more overtime, but just 40% are being paid for it – and the result is a workforce that’s becoming increasingly stressed out.

As Hays regional director Nick Murphy told SmartCompany this morning, the next step is that these employees will soon look for a different job.

“We’re finding more clients whose employees aren’t just saying they want a pay rise, or that they’re not happy with a manager, but that they’re working longer hours and not getting any extra recognition.

“That’s a big driver for a lot of people to look for a new job.”

The survey questioned 1600 employers about overtime and extra hours. Only 11% said they reduced overtime, and 63% said overtime work had continued, but hadn’t increased.

However, 26% said the overtime within their companies had increased, and of those 37%, said it had increased to five hours a week, and 35% said it had increased to between 5-10 hours a week. One in 10 said hours had increased beyond 10 hours.

Murphy says businesses need to start coming up with solutions, which unfortunately involve hiring more staff.

“I really think the solution is about moderation,” he says.

“Expecting employees to do a bit of overtime now and then is totally acceptable…but more businesses are looking at taking on temporary staff because of the administrative shortfall right now.”

While Murphy says businesses won’t necessarily like the idea of hiring staff, it’s something they need to tackle head-on – otherwise employees will become sick of the existing work structure, and they won’t recommend your business as a good place to join.

“Nobody quite knows how busy they’re going to be month after month, so the benefit of taking on a temporary solution is that employers can adjust very quickly.

“The more progressive employers will start thinking about this now, and consider that they don’t want to burn employees out or overwork them – so they’ll start thinking now about what they can do.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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