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Australia – Temporary staff could relieve pressure in workplace

14 August 2013

More than a quarter of employers report that their people are clocking up increasing amounts of overtime and more than 60% say that those extra hours are unpaid, according to Australian recruitment firm Hays.  

Pressure on organisations to increase productivity means that existing teams are being asked to do more work with the same number of staff. If not managed carefully, this has the potential to cause workplace stress and employee burnout, therefore costing a lot more in the long run.

Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand, commented: “There could be a very good business case for adding permanent headcount or using a temporary staffing solution instead and there are some fantastic candidates available right now. Employers need to keep monitoring not just overtime but absenteeism and attrition rates so they know what all that overtime is really costing.”

In a survey conducted for the annual Hays Salary Guide, 1,600 employers were asked about the amount of overtime or extra hours being performed by their employees over the past year. Only 11% had managed to reduce overtime with 63% saying that the level of overtime or extra hours being performed inside their organisations had continued but had not increased.

Mr Deligiannis added: “Of particular interest was the 26% of employers who told us that the amount of overtime being performed by their employees had increased in the past year. Of those, 37% said the amount of overtime had increased by up to five hours a week and 35% by five to 10 hours a week. A further 10% reported that the level of extra work had increased by more than 10 hours a week.”

The Hays Salary Guide also revealed that 62% of the overtime, or extra hours, was unpaid.

Mr Deligiannis commented: “Employers are looking for maximum productivity from their existing workforce. The fact that so much of the overtime is unpaid creates the potential for issues around employee engagement and even rising absenteeism due to illness or stress.”

Hays recommend that employers take a number of steps to help manage employee engagement during sustained periods of increased overtime.

These include:

  • Actively monitoring the amount of overtime being performed and by which team members as well as absenteeism and general employee wellbeing;
  • Remaining open to adding permanent headcount as a way of increasing productivity and reducing the risk of existing employees leaving;
  • Using temporary staff to relieve pressure on overtime hot spots;
  • Actively encouraging managers to use regular feedback, paid rewards and unpaid rewards to recognise those employees putting in the extra time;
  • Monitoring business activity so staff can be given time off in lieu where possible. 

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