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The title will make more sense with these statistics – a research conducted revealed that 62% of those surveyed brought work home, even if it was only one weekend. Another 12% admitted to taking work back home every weekend and the average response to the number of hours worked every week was 47 hours. This national survey, developed by an independent research firm, spoke to around 400 employees via the phone and these respondents were a random selection from various companies.

Working weekends does not seem to be the exclusive domain of the senior leadership anymore. It seems to be the culture in a number of offices – not putting in extra hours or not working week-ends labels one as being lazy, unproductive, and ineffective. There are a number of reasons for this phenomenon – but whatever the reasons, working weekends can, over time, be the cause of burnout, exhaustion and loss of productivity.

One of the main reasons for staff working weekends is the fact that companies are downsizing in a bid to stretch their limited resources and counter the ever-increasing competition. Low staff numbers means that existing staff must work longer hours and over the weekends in order to keep their job. This is turn puts increased pressure on them and this pressure on a sustained basis could lead to physical and mental exhaustion. Worse still, people who oppose this often find themselves caught between critical bosses and sniggering colleagues. With a tough economy and good jobs hard to come by, people find it tough to take a stand and refuse to working weekends.

As companies grow and take on a global face, the cross-section of employees has changed too. While the older workers (age wise) are more relaxed with their jobs, working weekends is not something they bother with or do. The younger generation on the other hand are more adaptable but even they are not happy to dedicate all seven days of the week to their office. Work life balance is something that many companies are realizing as being important not only for high morale, but also to retain their employees since the costs of rehiring are exorbitant. The fact is that companies cannot force employees to work weekends – there is no contractual obligation of this.

Companies that are serious about maintaining a happy workforce must ensure that workloads are manageable and employee policies friendly enough to motivate them to complete all their tasks within the number of stipulated working hours and days. A company culture that support working weekends would have reduced productivity and lax employees during the week – especially since many companies pay over-time benefits to employees that do work long hours and weekends. It is a great way to make some extra bucks and goof off during the week. This is the real irony of this situation – companies are shelling out more money without actually gaining through increased productivity. To make matters worse, the employees that actually work conscientiously through the week also need to comply with the working weekends culture just to fit in. Over time, they suffer burnout through exhaustion and stress and both their personal and work lives take a beating.

  • Companies that seek to break the ‘curse’ of the working weekends must encourage employees to be creative and look at different ways to start and spend their weekends. Encourage your employees to forget work, deadlines and the frenzied life of the office and take the weekend to indulge, pick up a hobby and generally break free from the mould of working like machines. This in turn will benefit the company – employees come back to work energized and produce output and quality of work that would be far superior.
  • In order to ensure growth and success, a company must look inwards. They must treat their employees as individuals and give them the respect and appreciation they deserve. By providing them two days in a week to relax and unwind, companies can grow their relationship with their employees. The employees can focus on their personal lives, look at opportunities aimed at self-development and completely unwind before they come back to work. This in turn would encourage a growth mind-set in the entire organization, without which a company cannot expect to succeed.
  • Forcing employees to work on weekends by paying extra translates to rewarding non-performers and laggards and punishing those that work hard and effectively the entire week. Over time, the company will lose their best workers who would much rather work in a company that has structured and appreciates efficiency. It is best to do away with a culture that support late hours and working weekends and encourage efficiency and high productivity during the week.

In the rush of work and trying to achieve tough targets and deadlines, it is easy to forget that employees are people and they need time to disengage from their job for a while. A happy and relaxed weekend would serve to be the ‘recharge’ their mind and body need. Inculcate a culture of caring, delegating tasks, equally distributing workloads, providing recognition for good work and remedy lax workers. Working weekends is not the solution to increase productivity – allowing your employees time-off is.