Working less than 40 hours a week? Here's why your boss doesn't care

Overwork or underwork? There's a toxic culture on the rise, regardless

Working less than 40 hours a week? Here's why your boss doesn't care

Would you ever let your employees dictate their own working hours? Well, according to research from Robert Half, it’s the one of newest HR trends sweeping across the globe. Data released this week found that 48% of employers are giving their teams the total flexibility to pick and chose when, where, and how they work – with 31% of managers adding that they ‘don’t mind’ if their workers put in fewer than 40 hours a week.

Balancing employee burnout

However, this new-found autonomy isn’t really as effective as you’d first think – with employees still reporting a poor work-life balance and immense burnout over the past few months. According to the research, 61% of employees say they need to work eight hours or more every day just to get their jobs done, with 52% of staff admitting that they never fully disconnect from work – even during breaks.

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“It’s important for managers to be aware of the workloads of their teams, especially when offering flexible schedule options,” Koula Vasilopoulos, district president Western Canada and South America for Robert Half, told HRD. “Support from employers will help ensure workers benefit from having flexibility and can also mitigate burnout. Companies should consider bringing in extra staffing resources to take some of the load, and better prioritize current projects and critical business tasks. They can also encourage their staff to disengage outside of regular working hours and strongly encourage time off, including modelling work-life balance by taking vacation themselves.”

Technology fatigue in HR

What’s more, the research highlighted a very dangerous trend in digital fatigue – especially around virtual team meetings. The data found 52% employees attend more video calls now than they did sixth months ago – with the majority of staff claiming that one-third of the time spent in these meetings is wasted. And this data certainly chimes with other reports HRD has seen recently. Speaking to HRD, sleep specialist Dr Adam Fletcher warned employers of the impacts of too much screen time and virtual meetings on employee wellbeing.

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“I think we need to level up in terms of setting healthy boundaries, making sleep a priority and turning devices off because those are life skills that seem really basic, but the truth is that a lot of us don't have them,” he told HRD. “We should be going back to our roots, back to basics, and really ensure that HR leaders are providing very good quality information so people can develop these new life skills.” 

Managing dipping morale

The last few months have been rough on all of us. However, if employers continue to ignore the rising, not to mention toxic, culture of overwork they’ll soon have another pandemic on their hands - a mental health tsunami. To avoid this, and really help supercharge your employee morale in hybrid work, HR practitioners need to lead by example. After all, if your team sees you overworking, they’ll think that’s exactly what you expect from them. 

“When it comes to avoiding burnout, workers should make it a priority to protect their time by speaking up if they feel overwhelmed, setting boundaries with their working hours and being judicious when scheduling and attending meetings. In addition, it is important that they take breaks throughout the day to refocus and schedule time off to allow themselves to truly disconnect for a more extended period of time.”

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