Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Enterprise Worst Practices: Overtime

Nowadays, very few companies pay knowledge workers for overtime and therefore believe that any net advantage gained by extraction of overtime would be a cost-free benefit. This violates the ages-old adage that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch...

There are four reasons why overtime hurts enough to offset the effect of the added hours. These are the invariable side effects of extended overtime:
We can all acknowledge that knowledge work is, by definition, think-intensive yet we never ask ourselves why we are not so quick to acknowledge is what increases or decreases the quality of thinking during the day. Common sense would indicate that fatigue would be really high on the list.

Sadly, extended overtime is not just something that companies do to their workers, as many employees do it to themselves! Overindulgence in work, like overindulgence in anything else, will eventually lead to burnout. Over time, burned-out workers have no heart for anything - not for more overtime or even putting in a sensible eight hours a day.

Have you ever thought of your coworkers as zombies who wander to corridor but otherwise have never given it a second thought? There are way too many people nowadays simply going through the motions but otherwise not contributing.

Organizations with a lot of burnout begin to have a weighty, lethargic feel, just what you'd expect of a staff made up largely of the living dead. While many enterprises have attempted to awaken the zombies via various "leadership" tactics, they haven't dealt with reality and figured out how to not work hard but to work smart.

Sadly, way too many managers are blissfully ignorant to the costs of employee turnover and myopically look at cost solely in terms of a salary paid. Did you know that the cost of turnover in most IT shops is often second or third in the cost category.

Recent studies within several universities and think tanks have proven that working longer days doesn't accomplish more than shorter ones. The best predictor of how much work a knowledge worker will accomplish is not the hours that he or she spends, but the days. Way too many people I and you both know have come to realize that we are working longer hours but otherwise are delivering less. What prevents us from doing anything about it? Inquiring minds would love to know.

Anyway, in conclusion you should come to understand that twelve-hour days don't accomplish any more than the eight-hour days and that overtime is a wash...

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