Working overtime: Not unavoidable!

Today we sense that an increasing number of people are complaining about increasing workloads. This frequently results in burnouts, high absence rates, and inefficiencies. The question that arises in this context, especially in times of growing digitization and automation of work, is: is it really inevitable?

According to the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research, Germany’s working population worked a total of 15.36 billion hours during the third quarter of 2017. That’s 1.3 percent more than during the same period of the previous year. Compared to the second quarter of 2017, this is a 0.3 percent increase due to seasonal and calendar effects. More hours were last worked 25 years ago.

If you’re going to work overtime, do it right!

Today, we’d like to talk about something everyone does even though almost no one wants to: work overtime. Why? There’s almost no other country on earth where workers log as many overtime hours as they do in Germany. According to statistics portal Statista, we accrued around a billion unpaid overtime hours in 2014. And 608 million paid hours on top of that. That’s almost 50 million more than in the previous year. And in the current year, roughly one in five employees believes they are expected to be available and flexible to work past their contractually obligated working hours.

Let’s look at a few more figures, In 2016, Germans actually worked more overtime than the previous year. According to the Nuremberg Institute für Marketability ind Foreshortening, or Institute for Employment Research, the number of extra hours throughout Germany rose to a total of 820.9 million hours. That’s 56 million hours more than in 2015, with nearly 21 hours falling to each employee. Sounds frightening? Well, here’s some more: these figures just refer to paid overtime. Unpaid overtime amounts to 941.2 million hours, 24 per employee, and 1.6 million hours more than the previous year.

Heavy Briefcases? An Anachronism

The number of uncounted hours is tough to estimate – but let’s set that aside for a moment. In this kind of working environment, it’s par for the course that a company’s workers will need to take files home with them to finish up in their home office that they didn’t have time for during the day.

Keeping an eye on data security?

Here’s what many people don’t know: anyone who does take files home with them could be violating the company’s data security guidelines – and unwittingly giving their employer a grounds for dismissal. Companies with a personnel policy that expects employees to take office files with them when they leave should adjust their data security guidelines accordingly and set up a secure procedure for doing so. A procedure that conforms with the Federal Data Protection Act and prevents the loss of important or confidential files as effectively as possible.

There is a better solution

Of course, if you want to set things up right from the start, you should invest in an Enterprise Content Management system. It allows employees access at home to all important data and files without these needing to physically leave the company or be stored on your employee’s laptop hard drive. Working at home is also more efficient with an ECM, meaning employees don’t need to invest as much effort and time. And if that’s not enough: carrying around all those files is bad for your back – and “good” for a few extra days of sick leave.

Record sick leave

Against this backdrop, this hardly comes as a surprise: the first half of 2016 was already a record year with regards to sick leabe, at least according to German health insurance company DAK. That company had the highest rate for 20 years. Approximately 40 percent of all employees were on sick leave at least once – with an increasing number of mental sufferings being the reason. Even if the figures for the entire year 2017 are still outstanding, there are no signs that this situation has changed within the last two quarters.

On the contrary, the old adage is still true: chronic stress weakens our immune system Even overloading or the sense of being unable to cope with your work obviously foster burnouts. So why don’t we change this situation, although we are aware of it?

Countering it through Collaboration Tools

There are quite a few possibilities. On the individual side, this begins with programs for reducing stress, or seminars for executives on how to conduct a team efficiently and well. But there is also the organizational side – collaboration tools make collaboration easier, even with widely scattered teams. Enterprise mobility helps making better use of your time. Digital files, document management and workflows take over stupid and inefficient processes, and accelerate searching for documents and information. If you measure and combine such tools correctly and individually, you can no doubt reduce the number of overtime hours – and thus also stress and, possibly, the number of sick leave days.

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