5 Dangers Caused by Too Much Overtime
Employees working overtime can provide great benefits to employers and to themselves. Overtime allows employees to receive additional pay at a higher rate than their normal wage, and it can keep employers’ deadlines on track. However, employees who work overtime consistently and excessively can also face dangerous outcomes. The following are some of the dangers of working too much overtime:
1. Health Concerns
Excessive overtime can lead to long-term health consequences. Often, employees who work overtime frequently are unable to cook healthy meals, exercise frequently enough, and get sufficient rest. As a result, employees who consistently work overtime are more likely to experience health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Additionally, excessive overtime can take a toll on an employee’s mental health. Studies show that those who work too much overtime are often more likely to struggle with mental health concerns, such as increased substance use, higher depression rates, and increased suicide rates.
2. Increased Workplace Accidents
Employees who work excessive overtime typically experience increased fatigue, which can lead to workplace accidents. Shift workers especially are at risk since they typically work fewer days per week but long hours on their workdays. Shift workers may include individuals in hospitals, oil refineries, factories, and warehouses.
Studies have shown that employees who work 16 consecutive hours or more are three times as likely to be involved in an accident on the job. They are also 61% more likely to experience injuries compared to employees who do not consistently work overtime. Fatigued workers are also more likely to be involved in a car accident on their way to and from work.
3. Decreased Productivity
Fatigued workers often experience decreased productivity. When an employee is struggling with burnout and fatigue, their cognitive functioning and efficiency decreases. An employee may simply be “putting in the hours” for the increased pay, resulting in fewer productive hours worked.
Studies have shown that productivity decreases by 2.4% with every 10% increase in the number of hours worked. Other research demonstrates that productivity decreases significantly in white-collar sectors when an employee works more than 50 hours per week.
4. More Absences
When employees experience burnout from working overtime too frequently, they may require more rest time. Additionally, if employees are struggling with health problems and injuries, they may need more time off to recover. This may create a cycle where employees who seek overtime begin taking more frequent days off, resulting in other employees needing to work overtime in order to make up for the lost productivity.
5. Higher Turnover
Companies may see higher turnover rates from the cycle of burnout, as employees are unable to keep up with their heavy workload from excessive overtime. Employees also may choose to search for jobs with a better work-life balance.
This high turnover rate may contribute to a cycle of excessive overtime, as companies struggle to fill vacant positions and require their current employees to continue working overtime to meet deadlines.
While overtime can be a useful tool to increase productivity, it is important that companies and employees use it sparingly and wisely. Excessive overtime can have a profoundly negative effect on both employees and employers if utilized too frequently.