Extra Hours Mean Work/Life Balance Suffers


This report from Workplace Options was written last fall, but remains true today as the economy slowly recovers. If your company has reduced staff, then your existing employees are likely being pushed beyond what they’re used to. Just something to keep in mind — and perhaps more socializing together or even added benefits and appreciation events/rewards might be in order to boost morale.

According to a recent survey by Workplace Options, a leading global provider of work-life programs and employee benefits, more than half of American workers (62 percent) say their employer is trying to do more with less as a result of the national economic situation – stretching resources, postponing hiring and trying to get more work out of each employee.

According to a recent survey by Workplace Options, 42 percent of workers are extending their workdays by coming in early or staying late in order to avoid distractions. But what happens to those who contribute to the constant interruptions? According to the survey, nearly one in four employees (22 percent) are aware of someone in their workplace who has been fired for wasting time in the office, disrupting other employees or partaking in other distractions.

“Worker intensification” is a phrase commonly used to refer to the increasing demands placed on workers – asking them to more with the same amount of time and resources. In most instances, worker intensification occurs with little to no reward. According to the Workplace Options survey, more than half of the respondents (55 percent) have taken on additional job responsibilities as a result of the recession, but 70 percent have done so with zero pay increase.

“In times of economic uncertainty a lot of the burden falls on workers. Employers are forced to make ends meet with fewer resources and turn to their staff for help,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. “It’s important for managers to recognize the size of their requests and the weight of added responsibilities for their employees.”

Sacrificing health, wellness and benefits

Additional responsibilities usually mean extra hours at the office and a struggle to maintain work-life balance. More than half of survey respondents (51 percent) say the increase in responsibilities has negatively affected their well-being and 37 percent said they wouldn’t be able to sustain their current workload in the long run.

According to the 2010 American Time Use Survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35 percent of workers are no longer working for the weekends, they’re working on the weekends. Is this a continuing trend? Or is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Debnam says, “Regardless of the state of the economy, employers must recognize the impact of their resourcing decisions. If you aren’t able to hire more resources and you instead ask your current employees to take on that extra work, some productivity is bound to suffer.”