TMRW SG | Blog | Overtime Culture


Me: “Darling, have your dinner with Mum, ok? I’ll be back slightly later today, have some work to finish up.”
D: “Again?”
Well, that’s how my message to my partner is these days. But is this considered overtime?

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, overtime has become a norm in many workplaces. Although it may increase productivity or may be financially rewarding to some, it is crucial to know when doing overtime becomes detrimental to one’s well-being.

How much overtime is too much?

Many of us have been conditioned to associate putting in the extra hours with work performance and productivity. The more hours we are seen in the office, the more productive we must be. Which in turn would make us look favourable in our bosses’ eyes.

While overtime can assist in clearing deadlines and achieving goals, sometimes it can become an obsession. Or even counter-productive. But, just how much overtime is too much? This varies from person to person. In considering overtime, we need to factor in the job demands, individual capacity as well as the work-life balance we seek. A healthy balance could prevent burnout, physical and mental health issues. The organisation we work in also has a part to play in adhering to the regulations and industry standards, ensuring employees’ are well taken care of.

The gains of working overtime

Both employers and employees can benefit from overtime. For employees, spending extra time at work could showcase their dedication to completing given tasks, and may lead to them achieving personal growth. Employers will enjoy increased productivity during critical periods at work, reduced backlogs and improved customer relationships.

The downside of overtime

Overtime can lead to fatigue, stress, and diminished work quality. If employees continuously rely on overtime to complete a given task, it may be an indication of inefficiency in the work process or understaffing issues within the organisation.

This could disrupt work-life balance; affect personal relationships and ultimately, the overall wellbeing within the organisation. Excessive overtime can also lead to higher margin of errors or increased absenteeism. Recognising these issues will help both the individual and organisation to make better and more informed decisions regarding the need for overtime.

Working at your own time

Some employees take it upon themselves to complete their assignments by working later than their usual office hours. This is an indication of their self-discipline to reduce bottlenecks. I believe overtime is fine as long as it doesn’t create a toxic culture in an organisation where staying late becomes a habit, and employees think it’s their way to get noticed, and promoted.

Overtime gets lesser over time

Although there are days when working overtime is inevitable, we can always plan better for the days to come.

Here are some pointers I’ve taken note of to minimise my overtime. Try them if you will:

  1. Plan and prioritise the importance of tasks given.
  2. Assist colleagues if you can, but not at the expense of your work, which is bound to suffer when you take on the extra load.
  3. Be a better team player — get things done together.
  4. Focus and zoom into your ‘Things To Complete’ for the day.

Ok, it’s nearing the end of my workday, time to pack up.

Amran Abdul Majid