Survey reveals increase in overtime

Overtime increased in 35 per cent of organisations across Australia last financial year, according to new survey.

Overtime increased in 35 per cent of organisations across Australia last financial year, according to recruitment and workforce solutions firm Hays.

The survey by Hays found that just 7 per cent of organisations decreased overtime work. According to the findings, overtime was unpaid in 31 per cent of organisations, while 30 per cent rewarded staff non-financially, such as with time off in lieu. The final 39 per cent paid staff for overtime.

Of the organisations that increased overtime, 30 per cent did so by five hours per week on average. Another 36 per cent increased overtime between six and 10 hours per week.

Furthermore, 62 per cent of employers said the skills shortage has led to increased workloads for existing staff.

Of those professionals who are currently looking or planning to look for a new role this financial year, 25 per cent cite poor work-life balance as a motivating factor and 21 per cent cite the negative mental health and wellbeing impacts of their current role.

This news comes in the wake of the Ryan-Rugg settlement in May, which put the spotlight on what is considered a ‘reasonable’ level of overtime.

The hidden cost of overtime and how to counter it

“In recent times, it’s clear there has been an increase in the number of organisations requiring employees to work overtime,” says Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific at Hays

“While a reasonable level of overtime may be expected in certain roles and industries, it should never become excessive.

“Excessive overtime can negatively impact employees’ physical and mental health and wellbeing. It can lead to stress and burnout, and adversely affect work-life balance, job satisfaction, productivity and staff turnover.

“Unfortunately, perceptions of what constitutes ‘excessive’ overtime can vary from person to person. As a result, overtime expectations differ between organisations.

“We urge employers to recognise the hidden costs of overtime and take a proactive approach to better manage it.”

To counter rising overtime rates, Hays encourages organisations to:

  • Leverage tools and software to track working hours, detect overtime patterns and identify predictors of burnout
  • Ask employees what they consider to be a reasonable level of overtime and whether occasional overtime would negatively impact their personal circumstances
  • Encourage staff to report excessive overtime to their manager
  • Use employee pulse surveys to measure employee health and wellbeing
  • Review your resource model and embed agility so you can scale up for seasonal peaks without negatively impacting employee wellbeing and satisfaction
  • Automate and streamline processes where possible
  • Consider hiring additional temporary or permanent staff or redistributing tasks to employees with lower workloads
  • Offer additional flexible working arrangements to help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance
  • Encourage staff to take time off immediately before or after seasonal peaks

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