The Death of the 40-Hour Workweek

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The Death of the 40-Hour Workweek

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40 hour work week

We all know that working overtime is a reality in today’s business world—for many reasons, such as having too many tasks that need to get resolved and not enough time; peer pressure from seeing your colleagues stay late so you don’t want to be the one that leaves first; and the fear of being perceived as not being involved enough in the job. If the boss always works late, the employees often feel that they need to follow suit. Although it may seem harmless to stay another hour after the regular schedule, overtime abuse can in fact lead to less productivity overall due to fatigue or even exhaustion, and the inability to concentrate after many hours of work.

The organizational culture of many companies praises employees who work late and marginalizes those who don’t. Workers who leave work at the end of the normal workday may also miss valuable information from informal meetings that occur after hours. Taking a look across multiple industries, you can see that overtime is a big part of Corporate America, and avoiding it is not as easy as just saying “no overtime.” I know when I pack up at five or six at night there is still a lot of work to be done, and sometimes I end up working late into the night to get a head start on the next day.

HR can’t simply say “no more overtime,” because there will always be deadlines, clients who need immediate attention, and business objectives that have to be accomplished. Having too much work isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a company, but managing employee burnout and overtime can turn into a tricky situation. This phenomenon will never go away, and most employees, depending on their industry, will sometimes—or often—feel like they need to stay late, come in early, and work overtime. I’ve devised three suggestions that will help HR manage some of the extra workload temporarily. The best thing you can do is to try to make sure that the workload matches the number of employees you have, but unfortunately that’s not always possible.

Hire Temporary Contract Workers

Some companies might not be able to hire full-time people who’ll need benefits, office space, etc., but most can find the leeway in their budgets to hire temporary contract workers. Applying a cost-benefit analysis on these workers will show your higher-ups that it costs less to hire contract workers than to have to replace full-time staffers who are burnt out by constant overtime. While some industries consider overtime as part of the job, there are several out there that don’t. When you’re a salaried employee, it’s hard to see the benefit in working 60-80 hour workweeks. Hiring temporary relief will give these salaried employees a much-needed break.

Offer Perks That Make Up for Extra Time Spent in the Office

If employees are constantly in the office late, offer up some perks that will help them manage their personal life. This could include providing snacks or meals, laundry services, free booze in the office after hours (this is becoming extremely popular), a gym on site, as well as anything else that’ll help them feel more at home even though they’re in the office. Small things that don’t cost a lot of money can sometimes go far in the mindset of a salaried employee who’s working long hours.

Offer Unlimited Vacation Policies

Did your workplace just complete a major project? Allow your employees to take some necessary “R and R” and grant them as many vacation days as they need to do so. This will allow them to recharge without having to worry about having a cap on the number of vacation days spent. Most employees who work 60-80 hour workweeks deserve to spend time with their family after a long session of nonstop work, and some may want to get out for a week or two at a time. Offering up an unlimited vacation policy (which doesn’t mean that vacation days are really unlimited, rather that your company can be flexible about the number of days off as long as the work gets done) could go a long way toward providing some type of work-life balance in your office.

Eric Friedman, Author

Eric Friedman

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills testing for pre-employment assessment and benchmarking. Eric has degrees in Psychology and Business, and a fascination with matching people with roles they’re best at, and that they enjoy.

A company built on exceptional talent from Internet technology, test development, and iterative product development, eSkill leads as an independent assessment company helping HR departments with relevant and accurate job-based tests.

To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com, or contact him on LinkedIn.


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