If you’re one of the many people in management positions who consistently work well beyond ‘normal working hours’ you may not be doing your company or yourself any favours. Organisational behavioural models often overlook the productivity costs of reduced workplace health and happiness – factors associated with extended working hours.
Jeff Kennett, Beyond Blue chairman and former premier of Victoria said on ABC NewsRadio that the performance bonuses of top executives should be linked to the mental wellbeing of their staff.
He supported his argument with a big number – that close to $11 billion was lost in productivity each year because staff were not happy at work.
Today, Wednesday November 23rd, is the Australia Institute’s annual Go Home on Time Day. This year the Institute’s annual survey found that half of the people surveyed had worked more than their contracted hours the previous week – six hours of unpaid overtime on average.
“This is just some of the information that’s painting an ugly picture of the inefficiencies of the typical Australian workplace,” said Melinda Fell, Managing Director of Melinda Fell Consulting, an Australian executive search and coaching company.
She explained that the higher up the corporate ladder people climbed, the expectations of longer working hours generally increased – while mentioning that extended hours were also often expected of graduate and junior staff in professional positions.
“People and their families adjust to their working hours and become inured to the effects – the reduced time spent with families, friends or simply enjoying recreational activities,” she said, “the long-term damage can take years to emerge, and the worker at the centre of it all is not the only one who can suffer – partners and other family members are all vulnerable.”
So will corporate Australia actually encourage their staff to go home on time and work fewer hours?
“It’s looking ever more likely,” Ms Fell said, “smart employers are aware of all the factors that affect the happiness and satisfaction of their people and they are implementing strategies to optimise productivity and engagement on both individual and company levels.”
If you are experiencing undue workplace stress that you find difficult to discuss with your employer or colleagues, we suggest you visit beyondblue.org.au for helpful strategies, advice and online or phone chat.