Overtime increased in 29 percent of workplaces last year

Overtime increased in 29 percent of organisations in New Zealand over the past 12 months, with 51 percent of staff unpaid for their extra hours, according to a study.

Recruitment company Hays says, in a statement, that based on its findings in its FY21/22 Hays Salary Guide, just 13 percent managed to decrease overtime over the past 12 months.

It says that of those organisations that increased overtime:

  • 31 percent kept the average weekly additional hours to less than five percent.
  • A further 40 percent increased overtime by between five and 10 percent
  • While 26 percent increased it by 10 to 20 percent.
  • The final three percent saw overtime rise by more than 21 percent of the standard weekly hours worked.

“Last year, tight budgets forced employers to try to achieve more with less as they navigated their way through the crisis and back to growth,” says Adam Shapley, managing director of Hays in New Zealand.

“But rising overtime is not a sustainable solution, especially when we know that further pressure will be placed on workforces in the year ahead. Seven in 10 employers say skills shortages will impact the effective operation of their organisation or department in the next 12 months. 

“According to employers, one major impact of the skills shortage will be increasing workloads for existing staff. This is a dangerous indicator for employers, who risk their employees’ engagement, retention, and physical and mental health when overtime becomes excessive.”

The solution to rising overtime

As for how to reverse rising overtime rates, the employers Hays spoke to have an idea. “One of the main factors behind today’s skills shortage, they believe, is a lack of people gaining the necessary qualifications or experience,” says Shapley. 

“Encouraging more people to gain the qualifications and skills in demand and offering apprenticeships, traineeships, graduate programmes and entry-level roles can help organisations overcome the skills shortage in the long term and, in doing so, reduce pressure on existing teams.

“In the meantime, employers could revise their sourcing strategy to attract skills in demand – whether they wish to add a new permanent team member to relieve the pressure on existing staff or a temporary candidate to assist at times of peak workloads.

“It’s also important to offer genuine work-life balance initiatives so that employees can focus on their health and wellbeing after periods of lengthy overtime.”

The Hays Salary Guide is based on a survey of close to 600 organisations and more than 500 skilled professionals in New Zealand.

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