Leaving work on time – norm or novelty?

Thursday February 2, 2017

What time is it? If it’s past your working hours and you’re still plugging away, the Working Families Group are today urging you to pack up your rucksack and switch off your computer for ‘Go Home on Time Day UK’! Aside from making sure that, today of all days, you get home on time; it’s also about employers and the workplace culture they create for staff, how it can affect productivity, and well-being.

UK workers are more so adopting the ‘longer hours’ approach to getting through their workload and meeting the expectations of employers. In fact, nearly two thirds of staff feel obliged to work overtime by their employer. More than a fifth report regular hours overtime. And although in many cases the overtime margins may be small, the impact of this over time may be severe to all parties involved.

Firstly to the job. Staff’s ability to think, react and deal with stressful situations massively decreases the more tired they get. So the longer they’re at work, the less effective they become. Overall it’ll take employees much longer to get the work done.

A wealth of studies also show that regular overtime can even damage health. 60% of heart related illness in one study occurred in individuals that regularly worked around three hours of overtime! Find that you get a little cranky when staying late? Turns out a late night at the office can even foster aggression, anxiety, and depression. A good work life balance improves well-being.

A prime reason why ‘Go Home on Time Day’ exists concerns families. Created by the Working Families Group, the day emphasises the importance of getting home to the family after work. 60% of working families have cited family as their number one priority, yet that same figure stay late to complete their workload.

Is it time for change? The ‘nine to five’ system – stable since the industrial revolution – has come under fire for its lack of flexibility, and for fostering a culture where employees neglect their lives outside of work. Big employers, sensing the benefits of being a flexible employer to staff retention and productivity, have implemented working from home days, and push staff to leave early on certain days.

So instead of staff burning the overtime oil tonight, ask them why they’re staying late and ask them to consider whether what they’re doing could be picked up the next day. Instead they could head home and spend some quality time with the family, get that pile of washing done, or just chill out on the sofa for some TV therapy! Or maybe catch some of the Rugby World Cup!

Whatever their plans, you’re sure to be greeted by some fresh faces the next day.  

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