$71.2bn in unpaid hours detrimental all round

Employers may unwittingly be undermining their businesses, according to new research that suggests Australian employees are putting in $71.2 billion worth of unpaid hours at work.

The staggering figure was revealed in HR and recruitment firm Randstad’s employer branding research, which showed that full-time employees are working an average of 42.25 hours a week – 4.25 hours more than the standard contract of 38-hour weeks.

Part-time workers are putting in an average of one hour per week in unpaid overtime.

While this may seem like a positive for business owners in terms of reduced labour costs and a high level of employee engagement, Randstad’s Australia and New Zealand CEO Frank Ribuot said that over time this can affect the business’ productivity and reputation.

“On the surface, employers may see the additional hours staff are putting into their job as a positive indicator they are engaged and invested in producing the best work possible. But the reality is, the benefit of any increased output comes at the expense of workers’ personal time,” he said.

“Allowing and even encouraging staff to consistently work additional hours for ‘free’ during what should be leisure time, with no real acknowledgement of the extra time investment, will have a big impact on a company’s employer brand, particularly in regards to employee attraction and retention.”

Mr Ribuot said his firm’s research showed just over a third (34 per cent) of Australian workers cite work/life balance pressures as a factor in their decision to change employers. Meanwhile, 62 per cent said a good work/life balance is their primary motivation for staying where they are.

“An employer brand determines the quality of the workforce. It drives the level of engagement, motivation and retention of top talent – all factors which are ultimately linked to higher revenue, profit margins and overall returns on investment,” Mr Ribuot said.

“Organisations capable of attracting the best talent will have an edge over their competition. In fact, organisations with a strong employer brand have 28 per cent lower staff turnover and 84 per cent of people would leave their current job to work for a business with a better reputation, according to Randstad research. So establishing good work/life balance is key.”

He added: “If your people feel they are working in a culture where work and personal time is respected, you will have satisfied, productive and more engaged employees. But if they are regularly working overtime, something which might have become ‘the norm’, it’s time to review why that is and find solutions.”

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