The dangers of overtime

Written on November 20, 2017

I think everyone will pretty much agree that overtime sucks. It’s soul-crushing and inconvenient, and doesn’t care that you might have kids, cats or cake waiting at home.

But beyond its oily surface lie bigger problems, and turning your back on these can be downright dangerous.

Overtime destroys your work/life balance

It’s pretty obvious, but your time is your property. The whole point of a contract is to sell your time in a way that is fair and protected. Beyond that promise, you can do whatever you want with your time (except sell trade secrets etc.).

We need boundaries between work and personal life, to protect our mental health and most important relationships. Also, your heart will just hate you otherwise.

Don Draper Work/Life balance meme

Overtime limits your productivity for days to come

Overtime can completely screw up a sustainable level of productivity in the long-term. Our brains need rest alongside periods of concentration, or they just freak out. Working over the healthy level can ruin your ability to perform “deep work” – the type of work most valuable to employers.

You’re probably not getting paid for it

If you’re lucky you get overtime pay. But in most cases you get 0 – just super tangible “company respect”, and maybe a budget pizza if it’s going to take you all night. Money obviously isn’t everything, and working for a brilliant cause can offset the pain of overtime. But if it is just a groundless pain, do something about it.

Overtime kills company culture

Many companies never actually address overtime outwardly or just pretend it’s not happening.

This is monumentally dumb. If overtime becomes an assumed norm and employees don’t feel like they can bring it up, it sends the message you don’t value their time. When people feel they aren’t heard, resentment brews and open communication shuts down.

Private WhatsApp groups form. Lunch cliques appear. Your jokes suddenly aren't funny anymore. People leave.

Control overtime

Employees, do you have overtime under control?

Employers, is overtime actually worth it?

To answer both of these you need to know what you’re actually dealing with, which means calculating overtime.

Luckily, a load of time tracking apps exist for this very purpose. Most include reports, so you can see exactly where your overtime goes. We’re naturally super proud of our own app Timely, which tracks overtime completely automatically, so you don’t have to do anything.

Track your overtime for free over the next 14 days and see what you uncover. Then start the conversation.

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