How Does Overtime Affect Employee Performance?

Excessive overtime can have a negative impact on employee performance.
Excessive overtime can have a negative impact on employee performance. (Image: clock #4 image by Adam Borkowski from

Overtime can have a negative impact on employee performance, whether the overtime is wanted or not. While the occasional late night at the office might not have much of an impact on performance, consistent, long-term overtime can affect workers in a variety of ways. While employers might believe they are cutting costs by having employees work overtime rather than hiring additional people, the loss of productivity ends up costing the organization more money in the long term.

Health Consequences

Excessive overtime, both wanted and unwanted, can have a variety of negative consequences for worker health. Overtime can cause worker fatigue, anger and mood disturbances such as depression. These aspects all have a negative impact on performance. Overworked employees are generally slower, have difficulty concentrating and are more likely to take additional breaks. Workplace accidents are more common when employees work longer hours. This can lead to loss of productivity and lowered employee performance.


Excessive overtime leads to low morale and job dissatisfaction. Workers can begin to feel angry at their supervisors and employers. They sometimes also feel anger toward coworkers who are perceived as working less and not doing their fair share of the work. Employee burnout also leads to high turnover. Additionally, overall performance is affected when workers must be replaced regularly. In such cases, more time is spent training new hires than actually getting work done.

Client Dissatisfaction

The employee dissatisfaction that results from working excessive hours also affects how employees interact with clients. This is especially important in customer service industries and career fields such as nursing, where a worker’s performance relies on successful interactions with clientele or patients.


The most effective way to avoid negative impacts on employee performance because of excessive overtime is simply to keep overtime to a minimum whenever possible. It is also important to develop employee-management communications so workers feel comfortable addressing their concerns about excessive overtime with supervisors. Managers should also take steps to ensure work is performed correctly the first time to avoid working extra hours to make up for time lost to correcting errors. Offering job flexibility also provides workers with the feeling that they have more control over their work lives, which leads to greater productivity. By searching for ways to improve employee performance, employers can often reduce the necessity for overtime, thus reducing the impact of overtime on performance.

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