Overtime work is best reserved for last minute changes. Turning it into a desperate scramble for more time to complete a task only leads to a skewed work-life balance for your staff. If you're managing an overseas team or you're working for an outsourcing company, overtime work is practically useless to you and your employees. In fact, it should be discouraged in the workplace. Here are the reasons why.
#1 Overtime work has been proven to reduce productivity and the quality of one's work.
A closer look into doing crunch time in the software development industry revealed that the optimal work schedule for long-term productivity is only 8 hours a day for 5 days each week. Going beyond that will decrease productivity.
Productivity varies over the course of the workday, with the greatest productivity occurring in the first four to six hours. After enough hours, productivity approaches zero; eventually it becomes negative.
According to the IGDA report, an employee's level of productivity tends to decrease as soon as he or she starts working more than eight hours per day. Work being produced will continue to drop in quality and quantity "until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks." So, those extra 20 hours were practically useless to you and your outsourcing staff.
#2 Too much work has been proven to negatively affect one's health.
Many studies have confirmed that doing excessive overtime work can lead to many health problems, which include hypertension, lower-back injury, and alcoholism. Employees who worked longer hours have more mental health issues, and they're at greater risk of committing suicide than any other group.
A Canadian study in 1999 revealed that women who worked long hours are at greater risk of being diagnosed with depression, and men are likely going to gain weight at an unhealthy rate. Both men and women smoked more while women drank even more.
Because employees who do overtime work tend to go to bed later and lose a couple of hours of sleep each night. The IGDA report also concluded long hours of work and the subsequent lack of sleep among workers will "drastically reduce cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error. In both the short- and long-term, reducing sleep hours as little as one hour nightly can result in a severe decrease in cognitive ability, sometimes without workers perceiving the decrease."
What's even more alarming about overworking is the certainty that your staff will experience burnout sooner. This leads to frequent instances of absenteeism and tardiness, and a high turnover rate.
#3 Overtime work is a costly option for the outsourcing provider.
If you're outsourcing to the Philippines, your service provider may be paying 25% more than your staff's regular wage for overtime work on ordinary days. On a rest day or holiday, overtime pay increases to 30% more than the employee's regular wage.
Although clients are not obliged to pay extra for overtime work, it's still not practical and it will not sustain your provider's business for long. If you're happy with the results of your outsourcing decision, it's good form to work with your service provider in continuing to make your partnership profitable.
#4 It takes away time that's better spent with family and friends.
Long hours spent at work have been associated with increasing work-family conflicts, which refer to situations wherein the employee's role in the family becomes incompatible with his or her role in the company.
The number of children at home, and how young and vulnerable they are, can exacerbate the work-family conflict experienced by the employee. However, women who work long hours experience reduced work-family conflict when their husbands help them with housework and taking care of the children.
Aside from sharing their familial responsibilities, couples who work less than a total of 60 hours each week experience less work-family conflict:
In a study on couples, Hill et. al. (2006) found that the division of work hours between the partners is not as important as the combined number of hours worked by the couple. Couples who work no more than a total of 60 hours per week report significantly greater job flexibility, improved work-family fit, enhanced family satisfaction, and less work-to-family conflict.
#5 Overtime work leaves your staff little to no time in learning a new skill or indulging a hobby.
Sometimes, your outsourcing staff may have to work on weekends for various reasons. This takes valuable personal time away from your staff, and prevents them from enjoying their days of rest. Rather than work, your staff could have invested that time on learning a new skill or taking post-graduate classes. If that's not their intention, they could have spent that time on a hobby that stimulates their creativity and helps them innovate at work.
It's good that your employees receive additional pay for overtime work, but the extra pay may not seem worth it for those lost hours. They could have been relaxing at home instead of toiling away in the office.
Will Your Outsourcing Staff Benefit from a Compressed Workweek?
Early this year, a Philippine congressman filed House Bill No. 5068, which is an act amending the Philippine labor code to include a compressed workweek. If this bills becomes a law, companies can offer employees a four-day weekly schedule, which may seem the optimal choice for parents with young children or single parents.
According to the Federation of Free Workers (FFW), however, working 12 hours each day for four days in a week can take a toll on one's health. In the first few months, it may seem to work well for the employees because of the 3-day weekend they would be enjoying. But, the labor group believes the compression will push workers to their limit in those four days.
On one hand, productivity will not be affected that much if you scheduled short breaks every four hours for your staff. This gives them time to rest and recover their energy and passion for the work they do. It also gives you time to check on them, see their progress, advise them on which direction to take, and help them overcome the challenges of working longer hours.