kiwiHR

  • Workforce management
  • Insights
  • HR guide
  • Productivity

Why you should watch out for employee's overtime

Aude Creveau

Overtime has become normalised over the past years. Working beyond contracted hours has become a normalised way to prove loyalty and commitment to employers.

But while working overtime is socially accepted, according to a survey, only 10% of employees who work overtime do so “out of the love for the job”.

In fact, some employees are so eager to prove themselves as hard-workers, that some won’t complain about staying a little longer in the office. According to TUC, more than 5 million people in the UK put in an average of 7.5 hours a week in unpaid overtime during 2018. Out of all, employers are the ultimate winners, benefiting from free labour worth 2 billion.

This new norm in the workforce can have more negative effects than positive in your business, even if you’re cashing out from it.

Read on to find out what these effects are and how to guard against them by implementing a rock-solid overtime policy.

The problem with unpaid/excessive overtime

There are a few problems associated with employees working excessive overtime, as well as with cases of wrongfully unpaid overtime. Let's take a look at what these are.

There is the potential for labour disputes and litigation

While you might enjoy cashing out from unpaid work, you should keep in mind that unpaid work is a reason for pursuing legal action. Even if your employees log hours without charging, you should not turn a blind eye to this behaviour. After all, the consequences might be far more costly than if you actually paid them for their work, should they decide to pursue legal action later on.

Increases health problems among employees

Several studies across the globe have compared employees who leave on time and those who do overtime. They have found that overtime could cause increased risks for high blood pressure, mental health problems, back injuries that involve manual lifting, and heavy alcohol consumption.

Decreases employee productivity

Increased health problems and fatigue can contribute to high absenteeism levels. Therefore, lowering productivity and impacting employees' morale levels. Especially, when employees don’t see any benefit from working overtime.

High employee turnover rates

Sooner or later overworked employees will give up on your company. Tired of lacking a good work-life balance, they will look elsewhere for employment. This happens even more often when workers aren’t paid overtime.

High employee turnover rates are costly for businesses, onboarding can eat up budget allocations and time. Productivity can also suffer as new employees usually need time to get up to speed with their roles. 

Top tip: to take the stress out of onboarding, we have created a revolutionary onboarding tool. You can check it out here

How to manage overtime more effectively

Excessive overtime can cost a business in many ways. Fortunately, there are a number of things one can implement to ensure that overtime is managed effectively. 

Track employees’ working hours and overtime

A time tracking system will be your best friend in tracking working hours and overtime. Tracking employees’ working time will also help you visualise patterns company-wide and at an individual employee level. By getting the big picture, managers will also know when an employee is at risk of burnout and calculate overtime compensation better. Accurately tracking working hours also helps prevent time theft and rounding up of hours.

Get familiar with wage compensation laws

Laws are subject to federal and local regulation, which is why is essential you research which rules apply in your location. As mentioned earlier, failure to pay overtime can potentially result in costly lawsuits.

Clearly communicate your company's policies regarding overtime

Do set the specifics as far as what constitutes overtime in your company. Especially, regarding technology. While the digital era is great, it is almost impossible to completely disconnect from work during off-hours. As insignificant as it may look, checking emails and answering calls do count towards working time and can stack up to many minutes of overtime. This can set the ground for labour litigation. Make sure your employees understand the importance of recording overtime accurately to protect your company against legal action.

Always compensate employees for working overtime

61% of people feel they don’t have a good work/life balance. In efforts to fight this, many companies offer time off in lieu as compensation for overtime. Some others decide to pay 1.5x the normal hourly rate of an employee. Whichever you choose, compensating overtime will reduce the negative effects of overtime.

Steps you can take to reduce overtime

Besides managing overtime effectively, you can also take steps to reduce overtime. Here are some things you can do.

Assess employees’ workload

Over half of employees' work overtime due to too much work (53%). Make sure to distribute the workload more equally among employees. By clearly setting your employees’ responsibilities and storing them in a single system, you’ll have a better overview of how the workload is distributed.

Manage work schedules effectively

By having a clear overview of how time at work is spent, you’ll be able to spot if there are enough staff members during a shift, or at an office location. This will ensure employees are not overburdened or need to work overtime to meet deadlines.

Plan ahead

In some situations, you might be able to tell when a busy season is coming or a project will take longer. You could avoid overtime by working ahead of schedule and allowing employees to take time off before the busy season.

Monitor employees

Know exactly what your employees are working on by allowing them to enter comments on their time entries. You can also create a policy in instances where overtime work can be compensated with additional time off days.

Get on top of overtime

Overtime can either make or destroy your organisation. Keep in mind overworking staff hurts productivity and employees’ morale. Leaving workers stressed and exhausted will not only result in high absenteeism levels but also hurts your employer brand. Make sure you manage overtime effectively and have the tools at hand to track overtime effectively.


Simplifying HR processes is easier said than done. Know how we get it done by starting your kiwiHR free trial!

Start free trial

Join our mailing list

By clicking on "Subscribe" I confirm that I have read and accepted the privacy policy.

More from kiwiHR blog

  • Workforce management
  • HR guide
  • Insights

Everything you need to know about annual leave carryover

Only 62% of annual leave entitlement is used. What should you do with the unused days? Get an understanding of annual leave carryover to avoid costly fines and efficiently manage carryover leave.

Frank Mittag

Powerful features to help you streamline HR tasks

HR admin activities can be really time consuming, up to a staggering 700 hours annually. Having an automated system saves you time and gives you a competitive advantage. Start now and make a difference!

Smart and easy employee records management

All personnel data in one place

Transparent time off management with calendar

Manage time off on the fly

Modern time tracking with overtime calculator

Track hours in just seconds

Company documents and resources 24/7

Consolidate important information

Step by step employee onboarding

Make new hires' first day perfect

Ready to give it try?

Start your free 14 day trial and start saving time with kiwiHR.

Try for free