The Unseen Costs of Employee Overtime

Too much work for your existing full-time employees? The first, most natural decision to this problem is to ask your workers to spend a little more time at their jobs in an employee overtime situation. Because your employees will be earning higher wages for this extra work, it’s easy to rationalize resorting to employee overtime to solve your personnel problems. In fact, some of your workers may prefer to work overtime to increase their take-home pay.

You might be surprised, then, to learn that using employee overtime as your go-to personnel solution has unseen costs that will negatively impact your company’s productivity. These unseen costs may not appear right away, but eventually they all take their toll. How does employee overtime affect your firm?


Let’s assume you ask your 40-hour-per-week employees to start working 45-50 hours per week. During the first few weeks you will probably notice a marked increase in productivity. However, shortly after this period of overtime, productivity starts to slide, and employees only produce about as much work as they did when they were working 40 hours per week. You’re now paying much higher wages, but, for the same amount of work.

Health and Well-Being

The University of Massachusetts Medical School conducted a study of more than 10,000 workers to find out how employee overtime affected general health and welfare. They found that employees who regularly worked overtime had a 61 percent greater risk of occupational illness or injury. Workplace injuries and illnesses can prove very costly to employers, so it’s best to keep this risk to a minimum by not requiring overtime.


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Company Morale

When employees are required to work long periods of time away from their homes and families, eventually they will probably feel that the sacrifice is too great. Some of your best workers might start looking for employment at more family-friendly firms, where they can still make a good living and enjoy their personal lives. Once you begin to lose long-term employees, the morale of the company suffers, and you could find yourself on shaky ground, having to replace employees you once counted on for stability and their vast knowledge and experience.


Mental and physical fatigue lead to errors that can be avoided when employees are better rested and more well-rounded. When compulsory employee overtime robs workers of their personal and resting time, their work will suffer. Your employees’ work will show more human errors, the result of a loss of concentration and creative energy, and worst of all, they may seem to just not care anymore. Errors require time to fix, and a decrease in the quality of your firm’s work hurts everyone involved.

Then what is the solution to this problem?

Invest in hiring more employees, trained in the skills you need to keep your company running smoothly. This is where a partnership with a reputable recruiting firm can help keep your regular, over-worked full-time workers from burning out and leaving your company. Regular employee overtime is definitely not your only option, and, in fact, it may be the most expensive one. Adding headcount is an indication of your success, allowing you to continue to operate at a reasonable, productive pace without wearing out your existing staff, damaging your company’s morale, facing increased errors, and decreasing productivity.

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