The Pitfalls of Overtime Work

3 min read
Oct 29, 2015

iStock_000044173444_Small-2We’d like you to join us in saying a resounding “No” to overtime. While it’s common in business to strive for more results, studies have shown that the toll overtime takes on employees is simply too high.

Research has shown that overtime actually decreases employee productivity, negatively impacts product quality, and causes a decline in customer satisfaction. The message for employers is that striving for employee work-life balance will have a far greater positive impact on your business than overtime ever could.

More Overtime Doesn't Equal More Productivity


Does quality suffer when you put a work team under the pressure of overtime hours? A study by Circadian showed that white-collar workers suffered performance decreases as high as 25% when 60 hours or more are worked each week. Tweet: Workers suffered performance decreases by 25% when 60 hours+ are worked each week via @TINYpulse

Common sense decrees that a decline in employee performance would negatively impact product or service quality and ultimately customer satisfaction ratings. But common sense aside, numerous studies support findings that overtime actually has a detrimental effect on the businesses that adopt it.


Working Longer Creates Safety Hazards



Tired employees cause more safety mishaps. The Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine showed working more than 12 hours in one day correlated with a 37% decrease in job safety.Tweet: Working more than 12 hours in one day correlated with a 37% decrease in job safety via @TINYpulse

The Harvard Medical School conducted another study that same year to analyze the impact of excessively long work hours on medical interns. They concluded that interns who work shifts longer than 24 hours are more than twice as likely to have a car accident on the drive home and five times as likely to have a near-miss incident.

Excessive overtime hours cause mental and physical fatigue, which hampers reflexes and decision-making skills. Simply put, tired employees make more mistakes.

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Working Extra Hours Kills Employee Retention


Don’t take our word for it. Scientific studies show employees working overtime are more frustrated and dissatisfied. A Circadian study evaluated factory shift workers and discovered employee morale was considerably lower in plants offering or requiring overtime. Absenteeism and turnover increased, and the study cited work-life balance as a primary contributor to these trends.

Working excessive hours has also been linked to higher incidents of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, on-the-job injuries, and other health issues.

It’s commonly suggested that “slow and steady wins the race." And in the case of employee overtime, we wholeheartedly agree. The responsibility to maintain a standardized 40-hour workweek rests with everyone, from the sales manager controlling sales volume to the project manager controlling output.



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