Few employees put in extra hours without receiving something -- tangible or otherwise -- in return. Companies strive to create a positive work environment where employees feel valued, but many are finding that increasingly long hours are contributing to employee burnout and job dissatisfaction. Whether in recession or recovery, long hours at the office have become more common and are often unavoidable.
According to a recent survey of more than 1,200 professionals conducted by Seamless Corporate Accounts, GrubHub Inc.'s leading online food-ordering and billing service for offices, nearly half (48 percent) of respondents surveyed indicated they work late nights and weekends some or all of the time. A recent poll by Manpower Group showed similar findings. When asked if employees work longer hours than five years ago, more than two-thirds (67 percent) responded "Yes, a great deal."
From providing time management training and limiting non-essential meetings and administrative tasks like expense reports to fostering a culture that values contributions over face-time the most effective way to combat the challenges related to overworked employees is to help employees work more effieciently during regular hours.
But when long hours can't be avoided, here are five impactful tips that can make your employees feel valued and comfortable when putting in extra hours.
- Leave the lights on. For employees working long hours this summer, do what you can to keep the office vibrant, comfortable and engaging. If you have lights and HVAC systems that go into energy saving mode after hours, make sure the systems don't shut down on employees putting in extra hours.
- Consider employee safety. Buildings and parking lots should be well lit, shrubs and trees kept to a minimum, and security guards alerted that employees are on site after hours. If your office is in the city, consider reimbursing workers for after-hours cab rides to avoid late night travel on foot or public transportation.
- Keep employees fed. Food increases energy levels and can play an important role in motivating employees to work more effectively while retaining a positive view of the workplace. The Seamless survey indicated that more than half (57 percent) of employees said food-based perks would make them feel more valued and appreciated by their employers. Have healthy foods on hand in the break room, or allow employees burning the midnight oil to be reimbursed for meals.
- Acknowledge those who work late. While it may be difficult to track employee overtime, the investment made in uncovering who is putting in extra time can pay off. Let them know the extra effort is appreciated--but be mindful of employees who may be on the road to burnout. If overtime is ongoing, examine other employees' workloads and shift responsibilities, if possible, to provide better support to those who are especially stretched thin. Consider how you can offer public recognition in front of peers and find rewards meant to encourage time out of the office, like tickets to a day-time baseball game.
- Remove the stress of personal chores. Along with overtime comes increased stress for employees trying to meet needs at home. According to the American Psychology Association, sixty-nine percent of employees report that work is a significant source of stress, and fifty-one percent said they were less productive at work as a result of stress. Consider ways your company can help employees better meet work and life demands, such as flex-time, a mandatory vacation policy or a personal concierge service.
Stressed and disengaged workers are never good for your organization. Making overworked employees feel comfortable and valued will increase engagement, satisfaction, and happiness, leading to higher productivity levels and increased profitability for your company.
Check out this great infographic on overworked employees.