4. June 2024

Why is everyone talking about… unpaid overtime?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 2

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re talking about unpaid overtime and what it might mean for your HR team and employees.

What you need to know

Do you find yourself working overtime a bit too much these days? HR Magazine has reported that over half (54%) of UK employees work between four and 30 hours of overtime each month, amounting to about 19 million days going largely unaccounted for. This is leading to over half of employees (53%) feeling increased stress and anxiety and 41% feeling burnt out.

Why has this become such a problem? Nearly a third (28%) of employees report that they’re simply not able to get all of their work done during their work day. This has led to two responses to these high levels of stress and insurmountable to-do lists: Over a fifth want to leave their job in the next month and half refuse to take on additional work.

What others are saying about it 

“Half of UK employees are working unpaid overtime. On average, they are working just over 3 unpaid hours (184 minutes) each week - by the end of the year, this is the equivalent of working 18 additional days for free”, says Joe O’Connor, CEO and Co-Founder of the shorter work week research and consultancy firm, Work Time Reduction.

He explains why this can become such an issue for businesses: “With disengaged employees, quiet quitting and burnout on the rise, leaders need to find a way to alleviate the burden on their workforce. If your people don't feel empowered to prioritise and find efficiencies to achieve a balanced workweek, they may become demotivated or fatigued, or they might vote with their feet”.

What that means for you

How can organisations ensure a balanced workweek? Not only are HR teams in a strong position to set the right expectations that will help to prevent burnout, they’re the first line of support for employees who are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or disengaged by their workloads. 

We’d recommend the following:

  • Get the data: Without knowing how big the problem is, it’s hard to fix. Consider implementing time tracking as a start.

  • Set expectations: Ensure contracts clearly state contracted hours, overtime expectations and overtime pay rates

  • Listen to employees: Discuss workload expectations regularly and openly with employee surveys and feedback tools.

  • Offer flexible working: Consider offering remote work or compressed workweeks to help improve work-life balance.

  • If you can’t pay, offer time back: TOIL can allow employees to take time off in exchange for extra hours worked. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Hannah Popham

Hannah Popham

Hannah is a Senior Content Marketing Manager at Personio. She loves writing about the ever-changing ways that we work and how they intersect with our lives outside work.

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