Is Working Overtime Worth It? (Pros, Cons and FAQs)

Is Working Overtime Worth It? (Pros, Cons and FAQs)

By Jennifer Herrity

Working overtime can be a great way to prove your dedication to your role and company while also earning higher pay. Before you commit to overtime work, however, you should make sure you’re maintaining a healthy work-life balance and that your overtime will be productive. 

In this article, we explain what working overtime is, its pros and cons, how to decide if you should work overtime and other tips.

What is working overtime?

Overtime refers to the hours an employee works that exceed their regularly scheduled work hours. Some employers pay you more for working extra hours, and the amount often varies between companies. The rate of pay most employers provide for overtime is double your regular pay rate or time and a half for the hours you worked. 

There are some instances where salaried employees are exempt from receiving overtime pay, usually if they earn a certain salary amount. Meet with your human resources manager or review the company’s policy to learn more about what they allow in terms of overtime pay.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Overtime provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employees covered by FLSA must receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek at a rate of at least 1.5 times their regular pay rate. For example, if you earn $20 per hour, you would receive at least $30 per overtime hour. The FLSA also mandates extra pay for overtime on Saturdays, Sundays, holidays or regular rest days. However, some professions are exempt from overtime pay.

FLSA states that a workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It may begin on any day and at any hour of the day. Averaging of hours over two or more weeks is not permitted. Usually, overtime pay earned in a particular workweek must be paid on the regular payday for the period when the wages were earned.

Why working overtime might be needed

Here are some of the main reasons why employees work overtime:

  • Work overload
  • Too many meetings
  • Office distractions
  • Excessive emails and notifications
  • Poor time management
  • 24/7 workforce needed
  • Seasonal production fluctuations

Advantages of working overtime

Working overtime has potential advantages and disadvantages for employees, including:

Extra money

Working overtime means you earn extra money for extra hours, usually 1.5 to two times your hourly rate. Overtime pay could allow you to bulk up your salary and have more money for living expenses, vacations or savings. 

Career boost

Working overtime may also help advance your career—and potential earnings—by proving you’re reliable and motivated in your role. Volunteering to work extra hours shows your current employer that you’re dedicated to doing a good job. 

Gain experience

Overtime is an opportunity to gain job experience and polish your skills. Typically, the more you work at something, the better you become. 

Disadvantages of working overtime

Here are some potential disadvantages of working extra hours:

Focus loss

You will likely want to take breaks while working overtime, and you may lose focus and productivity naturally as your working hours increase. 

Safety and health risk

Working longer hours also can be dangerous, depending on the job. Working overtime regularly can also disrupt your work-life balance, lead to burnout or create health risks, such as sitting at a computer for long periods. Due to these risks, more companies are limiting the number of hours worked in certain positions, such as truck drivers. 

Less work-life balance

There are only 24 hours in the day, and working overtime reduces the time for a good work-life balance. More work hours mean fewer hours for family, relaxation and sleep. 

How to decide if you should work overtime

Follow these five steps to determine if working overtime is right for you:

1. Review company policy

Some companies have certain restrictions or guidelines on what they consider overtime pay and whether they’ll allow employees to work additional hours beyond their regular schedule. For example, a company may limit you to working 10 overtime hours a week. Carefully review and keep these rules in mind as you decide to work overtime, and meet with your human resources department if you have additional questions.

2. Strategize your overtime hours

To help you decide if you should work overtime, build your work schedule and plan your daily tasks. Doing this can help you pinpoint when you have larger upcoming projects with tight deadlines or have too many necessary tasks to complete during regular hours. Strategizing your potential overtime hours allows you to carefully consider how much you need to work rather than working too much, which may lead to stress or burnout.

3. Determine when you’re most productive

If you realize you’re more focused and usually complete a majority of your tasks early in the morning, you may put in additional hours during that time. Mapping out your naturally most productive times of day can help you stay focused during both your regular and overtime work schedule.

4. Decide if you need extra money

Overtime work can be a great alternative to a second job if you want to earn extra money. You can continue completing your work without having to apply to another role or feeling overwhelmed about a particular job with potentially different duties.

5. Analyze if your manager rewards extra work

Before you commit to working overtime, you might want to determine whether your manager seems to value other team members who work extra hours. If you’ve noticed coworkers earning promotions after regularly putting in overtime, then working overtime could also be an excellent way to receive recognition for your hard work.

Tips for working overtime

Use these tips to help you remain efficient and enjoy working overtime:

Consider extra hours over the holidays

When the holiday season approaches, you might want the extra income for personal purchases, like gifts for friends and family. Your company may need to reach quotas at the end of the year and encourage overtime to hit those goals. Fitting in most of your overtime work toward the end of the year can help accomplish both.

Stay productive

Although working overtime means a lot of hours to handle in a day, you’ll want to ensure you’re staying productive throughout your entire shift. Take regular breaks on the days you work overtime to give your eyes and brain a rest so you can stay focused and on task.

Maintain a healthy work-life balance

It can be great to earn extra income, but balancing your work and personal life is essential. Try only to work overtime two or three days a week and use the remaining days to relax, spend time with friends or family or focus on your hobbies. Doing so helps your brain feel refreshed, energized and ready to return to your regular and overtime work schedule.

Ask for recognition

If one of your main goals of working overtime is to receive a promotion or raise from your manager, it’s important to ensure you get the recognition you deserve. Communicate with your manager and take the time to acknowledge your own work.

Jennifer Herrity is a seasoned career services professional with 12+ years of experience in career coaching, recruiting, talent acquisition and leadership roles with the purpose of helping others to find their best-fit jobs. 

This article first appeared on the Indeed website

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