5 Tips to Help You Ask your Team to Work Overtime

Filed under Leadership | Posted by MMeloni

5 Tips to Help You Ask your Team to Work Overtime

Contributed by Ashley Wilson

When project deadlines are tight, you might have to ask your employees to work overtime, which isn’t always an easy task.

Your request puts even more pressure on your team.

To help you minimize this risk and promote a healthy working environment, here are five tips to help you ask your team to work even longer hours.

Use this advice and avoid stressing out your project team members.

1)  Honesty Is the Best Policy

When asking people to work overtime, be honest and explain why.

If you want someone to work long hours, you need to take the time to discuss why that’s necessary in the first place.

Otherwise, they might think overtime is the new standard, which won’t be motivating at all.

Instead, explain what exactly happened, whether it’s a deadline you have to meet or a problem you have to fix.

You’ll show your team that you trust them to get the job done while giving them a timeframe for how long the situation will continue.

Explain to the team why the hours are necessary, why you chose them, and let them decide whether they want to work. Or how and when they will work those extra hours.

The last point is often overlooked, and many people are dissatisfied when working long hours. Employees do have a say. Do not treat them as if they are your servants.

If it feels like they have to say yes, your employees will do what you want but they won’t be happy about it.

Take their feelings into consideration when you ask for overtime hours and explain how precisely their skills can help you get the job done.

Be honest about why you need the employees to work overtime—it works!

2)  Incentives Work Best

What can you offer when asking someone to work overtime?

Clearly, some of your team members may earn more when they agree to work overtime, but sometimes, money is not enough for someone to sacrifice their time. And salaried employees are rarely paid for extra hours.

If possible, consider offering comp time – allow your team to exchange overtime for days off.

For example, when they have eight overtime hours, allow them to take a day off, which will surely be a good perk for those who want a shorter workweek. If you cannot offer an hour-for-hour match, then be honest. And advise that eight hours of overtime will equal four hours of comp time. You also want to be clear as to when they can take that extra time off.

If overtime is completed on weekends, introduce a new work policy for those days, such as casual attire weekends, complimentary food and beverages in the kitchen, or flexible work hours.

Find ways to make overtime a bit more exciting, or at least more appealing.

On top of that, you can give bonuses to employees who often work overtime. That way, they’ll get an extra benefit.

When asking someone to work overtime, explain the perks that are available.

3)  Employee Well-Being Comes First

Consider your team members’ well-being before asking them to work overtime.

Many team members agree to work overtime to earn extra cash, but others are already overburdened with work.

They have too many tasks and are under constant stress, so asking them to work overtime puts them under even more pressure.

To motivate someone to work overtime, employ kindness and empathy. Think of your team, their workload, and their daily tasks. If they’re already doing too much, pick someone else.

In fact, 76% of employees are more effective and engaged when shown empathy at work.

If you have no choice but to ask a team member to work overtime, make them understand that their well-being is essential to you by offering flexibility in other ways.

4)  Flexibility Is Key

If you have to ask your team to stay overtime, adopt a flexible approach.

Overtimes are not regular work hours, and you shouldn’t treat them as such.

Instead of asking your workers to stick to their daily routine when they come to work on a Saturday, offer some concessions to show them you appreciate their effort.

For example, if possible, give your team the chance to do their work from home instead of wasting time commuting.

This will allow them to create a better work-life balance, without losing productivity.

Another way to be flexible is offering your employees the chance to work an hour a day longer instead of five hours at once, giving them more freedom.

Employees won’t feel like they’ve wasted an entire extra day on work.

Instead, they’ll sacrifice an hour or two each workday when they’re already in the right mindset, and get the job done, which will make them more effective.

If asking someone to stay overtime, remove some of the usual on-the-job limitations to increase their motivation.

5)  Lead By Example

Leading by example helps you convince workers to work overtime.

Expecting your employees to work over 40 hours a week to meet your company goal isn’t fair when you’re not doing the same.

Such behavior shows that you expect them to give it their all while being unwilling to do the same.

It will result in negativity towards you and a lack of engagement from the employees.

After all, if the bosses aren’t working overtime, the impression is that the situation is not as bad as they make it out to be. Or it gives them the impression that you think of them as servants, there to do your bidding while you go off and play.

Besides, imagine being stuck at the office yourself while the manager is relaxing and recharging for Monday!

You want to promote team spirit without making distinctions between yourself and them.

Therefore, always join your employees in working overtime.

Since you’re asking them to work because you have to meet a deadline or fix a problem, you should be there too.

When you show a willingness to join them, your team will be more motivated to do the same.


When asked to work overtime, team members might feel like they must do it, leading to dissatisfaction and exhaustion.

That’s why you should always allow them to choose whether they want to work overtime and explain why you need them to do so in the first place.

You get bonus points if you work overtime as well, showing them, you care about the company goal too.

Always consider your employee’s workload and well-being while offering them as many options as possible and extra perks for those who sacrifice their free time to help the company.

Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.