Costs of construction overtime
People working overtime are usually paid 50%, or even double their normal rates. Are they 50 to a 100% more productive? Definitely not. In fact they’re probably less productive. Manual work is physically exhausting. Even operating a machine for extended hours is tiring. I found that production after working 9 hours fell dramatically. Working an extra hour possibly only yielded an additional half hour’s production. In effect the company is paying an hour for half and hour’s work – or double time. Add the premium for overtime and it becomes a very expensive additional half hour’s work.
But overtime can become even more expensive. Often overtime isn’t controlled properly. So people say they’ve worked the extra hours (and are paid the time) but they haven’t. Workers are often not supervised properly after hours, workers slack off, or they’re left waiting for instruction, so productivity is lower. Sometimes key workers, perhaps like a crane operator, aren’t there, which means that other workers can’t operate effectively. When equipment breaks down afterhours there often isn’t anyone available to repair the items, and without the item the team can’t work properly.
Problem of working excessive hours on construction projects
Sometimes workers enjoy working overtime to earn the additional overtime rates. But, to compensate they may take another day as a rest day, so they work the same hours, but some hours are paid at the higher overtime rate. On the days when they’re absent it impacts the efficiencies of their team – especially if they’re a critical component.
Working excessive overtime can lead to tiredness and result in mistakes and even accidents.
The right balance on construction projects
Unfortunately some projects get into a routine of working overtime. Those are the hours that were worked on the last project, or those are the hours that were instituted at the start of the project. In fact, some workers become used to earning the additional wages earned from working overtime so they even object when the overtime hours are cut.
Often employing a couple of extra people and hiring additional equipment will negate the need to work overtime and it will be cheaper than working the additional hours.
Sometimes overtime is essential to catch up lost time, or to complete a critical task, but it might not be required that the whole project works extra hours. Check who should work overtime, ensure only those workers stay longer. Then ensure that they will have all the necessary support services and supervision so that they can work efficiently and safely.
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This article is an extract from the book 'The Successful Construction Supervisor and Foreman'.
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The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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