Taking Care of Business and Working Overtime

Taking Care of Business and Working Overtime

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The article contributor is MachinistMaker.com


I used to joke that the reason I liked overtime was because I was finally being paid closer to what I was worth to my employer.  Additional weekly hours can be a fact of life in manufacturing plants and machine shops. It’s a nice way for companies to flex up their hours to deal with increases in work load without having to hire extra employees who may have to be let go when workloads go back to normal. Overtime is great when it is convenient to your life situation. This usually means you have the time to work it and are in need of some extra cash; other times it is not so desirable. It seems like we notice an uptick in hours during the nicer months of the year when you would like to be off, or perhaps right after you committed to something major outside of work. There are no easy answers regarding overtime. This article addresses the benefits, drawbacks, reasons, approaches, and methods regarding working extra hours.

Benefits:

Working extra hours has something to offer everyone.

  • For the employee, you get to earn extra money. This money can help you pay down debt, start accumulating savings, buy dinner and a movie, or take a much deserved vacation.

  • For the company, they are able to meet customer demand. This makes for a happy customer, which can lead to more business.

  • For the customer, they are then able to satisfy their end user demand. This makes their customers’ happy, which can lead to more business.

Below I describe potential business circumstances and how companies can deal with increases in demand.

If you ask anyone in manufacturing to describe the business cycle they usually say it’s either “feast or famine”. Out in the shop that means there can be wide swings in the amount of work that needs to be done on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

A company has a variety of options to handle an increase in work load. Those plans vary based on the reason for the increase in business. Every plan usually involves overtime.

  • When a single hot project comes up, the simplest and easiest way to deal with it is to work some extra hours either during the week or on the weekend. The problem goes away in a relatively short amount of time, perhaps only a few days or weeks.

  • If the demand is seasonal based on a customer’s products, a plan from the past may be utilized. That may involve working overtime during the week and weekend. Perhaps a few temporary workers will be added as well. This overtime could last a few weeks or a few months.

  • If it is a more sustained increase caused by a rise in demand across the board for the products your company provides, the need for overtime may last a bit longer. This may involve overtime during the week and half or full shifts on the weekend. The company would probably be looking to add additional full-time workers and, perhaps, new equipment as well. This overtime would last until demand drops or enough new workers are hired to keep up with demand.

Drawbacks:

There can be some potential issues that arise when working a great deal of overtime.

  • While overtime in the proper amounts can be beneficial, there is always a danger that working too many hours can “burn out” a CNC operator or machinist.

  • Lower productivity on the shop floor may occur. The production rate can suffer when long hours begin to affect energy levels and attitude.

  • Higher scrap rates can occur when people lose focus as they become fatigued. They may be just going thru the motions and their head just isn’t in the game as it should be.

  • There may be lower morale. As people get tired or burnt out, patience can run thin and tempers can flare.

Best Practices:

  • If you can’t meet a certain overtime schedule, offer an alternative. If you have a family function planned for a weekend you are scheduled to work, perhaps you can offer to work an hour or so every day during the week. Ideally, your company would accommodate that request, but even if they can’t, it shows you are dedicated to putting in additional hours and offering options to achieve it. Never commit to working overtime and then not come in to work it.

  • Hopefully the company you work for realizes that if overtime is being worked on a long term basis, some planned time off from the overtime hours on a rotating schedule would go a long way to keep an employee fresh and motivated.

  • Free your mind. Don’t worry about work when you are not on the clock. At this point/level in your career you are allowed both a mental and physical break from thinking about your job during off hours.  For committed employees, sometimes that is easier said than done.

There is no simple recipe for the right amount of overtime or its duration. Companies need to try various approaches, tactics, and schedules to find what will work best for all.

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