Metrostress: Is overtime becoming the norm?

When you go to work, do you feel the unspoken pressure to work over your contracted hours? You aren’t alone. Many workers, especially those in high-level, high-stress positions, feel that if they are paid well, they are expected to give more time to their job when asked by their manager than their employment contract requires.

In a time when we are legally protected in the workplace more than ever before, in some companies and professions, the expectation that staff will go that extra mile is very much in evidence. Working longer hours over an extended period of time can have serious health implications for employees and, ultimately, the business.

Money vs Health: is overtime worth it?

Many employees find themselves in the situation where their manager indirectly puts pressure on them to work more than their contracted hours. It may be that they put additional pressure on their employees by micromanagement to complete their tasks, reach targets or just that they don’t manage their staff correctly, but the result is ultimately the same: additional pressure on their employees.

When working overtime gets too much

Working longer hours on an occasional basis can be absolutely fine, but if you are working overtime regularly, not eating correctly, or even sleeping properly, you could be setting yourself, or if you are an employer, your staff, up for a multitude of problems and burnout.

The physical effects of stress are well documented. Stress has been known to cause: mental health problems: anxiety, panic attacks, depression, as well as many physical illnesses: Hypertension (high blood pressure), headaches, lowered immunity, insomnia, heart problems, and many more conditions. Plus the damage which these conditions do to your body can be permanent.

If you find that you are in this situation, take a step back and ask yourself why you are being expected to work unrealistic hours. If your boss is a workaholic, sometimes they can expect their staff to be working as hard as they are. In any case, being unable to live up to your bosses unrealistic standards is a path to stress-related illness and likely dismissal.

If work is getting unmanageable and the balance of your job and home life isn’t right, it may be time to take advice from your HR manager or even your union representative before you do anything.

The union ACAS has comprehensive advice for employees with regard to stress management and employee rights on their website. For advice on mindfulness and other stress-busting tips, check out our other blogs.

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