What are the main reasons people work long hours for no extra pay?

If you work consistently long hours, it’s likely to be for one of the following five reasons:

There’s a ‘long-hours culture’ at work. Is yours the kind of workplace where no one wants to be the first to go home or the last to arrive? Where managers judge people on how long they stay, not how effectively they get things done? Where people who have plenty of time to chat, surf the web or take long personal phone calls  drag things out just to look busy? (That's not to say that's there's anything wrong, of course, with regular well-earned breaks, particularly during genuinely hectic days at work.) How to tackle a 'long hours culture'

You have too much to do. There are not enough hours in the working day to complete your work. The less say you have over how you do your job and how you organise your work, the more likely it is that this is the reason for your extra hours. It is quite likely that you won't be the only person affected, and it will mean your colleagues are putting in extra time too. On the other hand, it may be because you are the only specialist who can do your job – and there's too much work for just one of you. How to deal with unmanageable workloads.

Your boss is disorganised (or just diabolical!). Some workplaces are badly organised. You can end up with too much work, while your colleagues sit twiddling their thumbs. Or your manager makes you stay late with no notice to meet an urgent deadline for work you could have started last week. Your manager may have been promoted because they are good at their job, not because they know how to manage people. On top of that, they may have just too much to do themselves to get things sorted. Others are, unfortunately, plain inconsiderate. How to manage a disorganised manager

You aren’t managing your time effectively. Do you tend to procrastinate and put off jobs you don’t like? The reason you are still in the office when security are going round switching off lights may be because you don’t prioritise your workload and get on with the important things. The crucial thing is to understand and change your own behaviour. See our detailed advice and information on time management.

You’re a workaholic. Maybe you can't get enough of your job and are always happy to put in the extra work. If that’s what makes you really happy, that's great (although don't assume your colleagues will share your excitement quite enough to match your hours). If, however, you are working so hard in order to avoid something else in your life that's not working out, it may be time to be brutally honest with yourself. Is all this extra work good for your health and social life? Do you really need to work these hours? Are you working inefficiently? How is it affecting your colleagues, friends and family? More advice for workaholics


Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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