Productivity Through People – Productivity and Unpaid Overtime

Productivity Through People – Productivity and Unpaid Overtime

The saying that we all need to ‘work smarter not harder’ in the workplace has been around for years but never has it been more relevant than now in mid-2014, according to a recent L.E.A.D. survey.

This survey found that we’re all working harder than ever before with ‘the traditional 38 hour week a distant memory with employees at all levels working substantial hours each week for no recompense’.1

The figures are quite staggering for the average worker, with these non-managerial employees working 44.4hours per week while being paid for 38.4 – this is an average of 6 additional hours a week every week on unpaid overtime. That’s an extra 40 or so work days annually that employees are working for no pay and often no recognition either!

office clock
Photo CC BY SA 2007 Axel Schwenke

Now there has been an issue with unpaid overtime in Australian workplaces for some time now and I’ve written about this a number of times in the last 5 years or so but, as it continues to creep up, it brings with it a whole host of related issues that ultimately affect productivity levels.

According to research conducted by Medicare2, more than 20 million sick days are taken each year by Australian workers suffering from stress-related illnesses. This costs the economy $14.8Billion annually.

This same research shows that presenteeism causes 6 working days’ worth of productivity to be lost every year per employee, costing the Australian economy in excess of $25Billion annually.

Presenteeism is the loss of productivity that occurs when an employee affected by stress or illness does not function to their full ability while on the job. The L.E.A.D. research found that, of the survey respondents who felt they don’t have a work/life balance, 84% of non-managerial employees believe they would achieve the right work/life balance if they worked fewer hours.

overworked employees
Photo CC BY SA 2007 hiroo yamagata

It doesn’t take huge brainpower to deduce that such consistent overtime will cause problems for employees. We all need a healthy work/life balance. The fact that this overtime is not paid, nor rewarded in other ways and so goes virtually unrecognised also builds up resentment and negativity over time. Employees become disillusioned and disengaged and productivity levels suffer. On the extreme end of this continuum employees become unable to work. This may result in illness and expensive workcover claims.

So, what can we do?

  1. Well, first off, managers need to assess or reassess the job and the nature and extent of work being performed. They may need to re-allocate components of jobs and/or develop new jobs.
  2. Managers need to communicate with their employees and find out what their issues are; and finally, managers need to
  3. Develop achievable KPI’s and make sure your employees have the tools they need to do their job well.

Employee engagement and productivity levels go hand in hand and line managers directly and significantly influence both. Line managers therefore need to the tools and knowledge to ensure that employee engagement levels grow along with overall productivity rates.

CAL has developed a comprehensive Productivity through People program for managers that can be accessed online or in workshop format. This program is guaranteed to provide managers with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to improve employee engagement and increase productivity levels.

More Course Information

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  1. Getting the Balance Right for Your Organisation’s Future. Leadership Management Australasia’s (LMA) Leadership, Employment and Directions (L.E.A.D.) Survey. June 2014. []
  2. Medicare 24/7 Health Advice Line (MHAL) 2014 []