The 5 Most Compelling Reasons to Tell Your Boss You’re Going Home on Time Today

It’s no secret that many Australians don’t do so well when it comes to work-life balance.

If you’re like the average worker today, you’ve likely clocked in a couple hours of overtime already in this past week alone.

Overtime work is already a work health and safety issue because putting in excess work hours is a risky and not always rewarding habit to have.

Whether it’s because of unfinished work, the pressure of not being the first person to head home for the day, or simply waiting for the boss to leave, many Australians struggle to achieve work-life balance and it’s not getting any better.


Overtime is a workplace health and safety issue


As of 2015, more than 4 out of every 10 workers in Australia say that their work-life balance has only gotten worse over the past 5 years, according to new research by the Australia Institute.

A worrying amount of these overtime is unpaid since a quarter of employers don’t provide extra pay or even time off in lieu.

This means that millions of Australians today are working longer hours than they signed up for, sacrificing their home time, and risking their health and safety to donate $110 billion in volunteer work.

In other words, we’re massively more generous to our employers than we are to charities or ourselves.

Safety Hazards and Health Risks: The Problem with too Much Overtime

The average full-time worker clocks in 6 hours, almost an entire day’s worth of overtime, each week.

This sounds great for your productivity and career on the surface. After all, more hours in the office equals to more work done and feeling more accomplished or fulfilled right?

Surprisingly, this isn’t always the case.

1. Overtime can drastically increase anxiety, stress, and depression

A massive number of Australians say that their work arrangements, including their daily hours, are drastically affecting their health in a bad way.

3.2 million Australians show symptoms of stress or anxiety because of their work arrangements, while 2.9 million are literally losing sleep or have sleep disorders. An additional 2.2 million said it is now more difficult for them to meet family commitments, which may intensify their stress even more.

Working overtime is also associated with higher risks for depression and anxiety disorders.

Men and women who work more than 41 hours each week were found to have more symptoms linked to depression than those who worked 40 hours or less, according to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

2. You’re exposing yourself and those around you to more safety hazards and injuries

If you’ve worked long hours before, then you know that constant overtime is extremely tiring.

This doesn’t just sour your mood and make you irritable. Fatigue is huge safety risk to you and others when you start to lose focus and concentration, making accidents and injuries more likely.

Workers with overtime schedules have a 61% higher injury hazard rate compared to those who do not clock in regular overtime hours, according to a study that followed more than 10,000 adults for 13 years.

This means that you are more likely to suffer from an occupational injury or illness when routinely stay in for overtime.

Safe Work Australia even has a guide on preventing and managing staff fatigue before your workers fall into an accident or cause fatal errors due to a lack of alertness.

3. Extended hours don’t always make you more productive

Employees who stay late in their workplace aren’t necessarily doing extra work in that extra time, says researchers from the Australia Institute who surveyed 1,000 workers Australia-wide.

They may be doing regular work more appropriate for their normal hours or even simply wasting time.

Many studies also indicate that your productivity takes a dive the more overtime you do. Your performance can suffer by as much as 25% if you work at least 60 hours every week in a white collar job. In manufacturing, every time you increase your overtime length by 10%, your productivity takes a 2.4% dive down.

This means you may not be using the full time you spend at work in the best possible way.

4. Overtime can make you more likely to miss work

Overtime also pulls down your productivity in the long term when you are forced to take time off work to deal with the added work health and safety problems it causes.

In another survey of 97 organisations employing 220,000 Australians, more than half reported that members of their staff did not report to work because of stress, anxiety, and depression in 2015. Instead of reporting to work, these workers are forced to stay at home or seek medical help.

This employee absenteeism costs the country $32.5 billion in lost wages and productivity.

5. Staying late nights may contribute to faster turnover rates for your organisation

It’s not hard to imagine how constant late nights at your workplace, missed family events, and low social interaction outside of work can catch up to you as an employee.

Burnout, severe work fatigue and impaired health and well being are only some of the effects of overtime that can cause turnover rates to rise.

These are particularly critical in work where employees are not being paid the appropriate amount for their extra hours.


If you’re like millions of Australians today, you struggle to achieve work-life balance because of the extra time you stay at work.

Overtime may seem like it makes you more productive, but it is also known to have dangerously crucial consequences including:

  • Increase in stress, anxiety, and depression levels that can lead to serious medical conditions
  • A false sense of productivity when you extend your hours for your regular tasks instead of completing extra work
  • Loss in productivity and higher absenteeism when you are forced to take time off work because of its health impacts
  • Extreme fatigue that makes you lose focus and makes you more prone to committing
  • High turnover rates among staff

As you can see, constant overtime doesn’t necessarily mean ‘getting more work done’ as much as it can affect your health and well being.

Instead of staying behind, it may be better to go home on time and start fresh, energised, and focused tomorrow.


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