We recently read this article posted (11 February 2015) on the Unum website (one of the UK’s leading financial protection insurers) and thought we would share it. Working long hours just because it’s expected is something The Acorn Support team are passionate about trying to change. We believe that having realistic expectations about the hours you expect your employees to work, and acknowledging that employees have a home life and want and need that down time away from work, can help create a dedicated and loyal workforce.
Are your employees working too hard? which is on the 27th February this year, highlights the extent of unpaid overtime across the UK.
More than five million employees regularly do unpaid overtime, currently worth more than £25 billion to the economy, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).
Teachers, legal managers and finance professionals are most likely to do unpaid work, according to the TUC. London is the capital of unpaid overtime, with 900,000 workers across the city regularly putting in more than eight hours of free labour every week.
The long hours culture is particularly prevalent in small and medium-sized businesses. Other research by Axa PPP Healthcare shows that 47% of SME employees regularly work four or more hours of overtime per week. And they don’t take a proper lunch break either. A fifth have less than half an hour for lunch, while 12% don’t take a lunch break at all.
While all this free working may sound good for your business, it generally leads to workplace stress, illness and burnout.
What is the purpose of Work Your Proper Hours Day?
The TUC launched Work Your Proper Hours Day 11 years ago with the aim of creating awareness among employees on how to balance their work life with their home life. The campaign is also designed to remind employers about the value of unpaid work.
The TUC says the two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked every year could be reduced by smarter management practices, such as better delegation.
On February 27th 2015, bosses are being encouraged to lead by example by urging their staff to work their proper hours and take a full lunch break instead of eating at their desk, even if it’s just for one day.
Why the long-term effects of unpaid overtime are bad for business
People work long hours for many reasons. It’s often because they have too big a workload, are worried about losing their job or feel pressured into staying behind because their colleagues are working late.
Putting in a few extra hours when there is a crisis or unexpected increase in orders is readily accepted by most workers. It’s only when long hours become the norm – not the exception – that problems start to arise. To get the best out of your staff, they need to arrive at work feeling fresh and motivated.
Working long hours can have a negative impact on many things, including:
- Productivity – Employees who are overworked are less productive and more prone to making mistakes than workers who stick to regular hours.
- Relationships – Personal relationships can suffer. According to Axa, 27% of people have cancelled time with family and friends due to work constraints, while 18% of parents have missed a school play or parents’ evening. 5
- Mental health – Working unpaid overtime on a regular basis can cause stress, depression or anxiety which, in turn, can lead to long-term sickness absence. Employers have a duty of care to look after the health and well being of their staff
- Physical health – Working excessive hours increases the risk of injury through exhaustion and lack of concentration, and can lead to headaches, digestive problems and even heart disease. Overworking can also cause people to smoke and drink more.
- Morale – Working every hour god sends isn’t good for morale or motivation. A culture of long hours causes higher staff turnover and means your business won’t win any ‘best workplace’ prizes.
So are you and your company going to join in this years Work Your Proper Hours Day? If so what do you plan to do? Is this something you can trial on a more long term basis. It’s amazing how much more productive a person can be when they know they have a short time in which to do it!
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