If there’s one ultimate truth in business and work in general, it’s that “there’s always more work to do”. Every entrepreneur needs to follow the “grind don’t stop, work don’t end” principle to be successful. But when is too much work truly too much? Where does the fine line lie between driven and borderline abusive behavior?
There’s an old quote that states there should always be “a fair day’s pay, for a fair day’s work,” This will always be the basis for how we pay our employees for overtime work. But when does overtime work become unsustainable? When does it become harmful? Is it truly worth it?
To answer that question we need to look at things from specific viewpoints:
The Number of Hours Employees are Actually Productive
First of all, we need to determine how many hours in an 8-hour shift are workers really productive. Times are definitely changing.
During the Industrial Revolution, factories needed to be manned and managed 24/7. This was deemed too brutal and hence, the 8-hour work shift, 8-hour rest period was implemented thanks to Welsh activist Robert Owen. According to this article, most people are only productive for 3 hours of an 8-hour work shift. By this finding alone, we can then already presume that financial compensation, as found in overtime pay, can never truly motivate an employee to reach optimal productivity levels.
Don’t even think about using this data to remove or even lessen overtime pay just because you recently learned that most employees are only productive for three hours. According to this New York unpaid overtime attorney, that can land you in some serious trouble with the law. Never forget, “a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s labor”.
Burnout and Attrition
Overtime will eventually result in burnout. Never forget that you’re asking your team to work outside of the 8-hour work shift. These are hours that are designated for rest hours in order for the employee to regain strength and focus in order to perform well at work the following day. Now if you take that recovery period out of the equation, you might as well liken it to only being able to exhale and never inhale. You run out of breath eventually, and well, you won’t be able to function as efficiently.
Burnout will often lead to attrition. And every employee that leaves means that there’s a void left in terms of who’s going to pick up the resignee’s work. Not only that, but you might also be facing new training expenses as well when you could be focusing your resources toward on important endeavours.
The Rule of Diminishing Returns and Proper Task Delegation
Now, we aren’t going to leave you without an alternative to asking for overtime work. First off, you need to look at your processes and tasks. Eliminate unnecessary, frivolous processes to free up more people to delegate tasks to. Sometimes there may be more people than necessary working on a single task. Ascertain and redistribute accordingly.