We all know that person who always gets their work done on time, and even manages to leave early some days. But the reality for a lot of Australians is that they're working overtime. In fact, a study by the Australia Institute found that, on average, Australians work just under six unpaid hours a week, which equates to eight working weeks a year.
As an employer, you have a duty to ensure your staff have a healthy work-life balance. You might think those extra hours are benefiting your organisation, but in reality they're probably harming productivity.
Preventing burn out
A highly stressed, overwhelmed employee is going to do a lot less work than one who feels on top of things. In fact, the Corporate Executive Board, which represents around 83 per cent of companies on the Fortune 1000, found that employees in companies that manage their work-life proposition effectively work 21 per cent harder than those who don't.
So, while you might think that those staff members who always stay late are the hard worers, in reality they're probably doing less than those that always leave at 5 pm.
The hard truth about working late
The stress associated with having a poor work-life balance accounts for a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. The Australia Institute report bears this out. It found that just under a quarter of Australian workers (24 per cent) experience a negative impact on their physical health as a result of their long working hours. Not only will poor health impact on the quality of work, many of your employees will also start taking more sick days if it continues.
What can you do to help?
Sit down and have a frank discussion with your employees about their work-life balance. If they're struggling, find out exactly which aspects of the job are causing them to stay late, and work out a plan for how you can help solve these.
Make sure you're actively discouraging your staff from staying late. As soon as one person starts doing it, others might feel that they should work late too, creating a cycle that's hard to get out of. Encourage staff to take mental health days when things are getting a bit much for them, and allow for flexible working hours so that, if they need to book a doctor's appointment, they can do so without feeling behind.