This is a unique situation to other questions here, which are all in regard to unpaid overtime policies that are already in place.

We have the opportunity to nip it in the bud but need to do it safely and professionally. What we need are preventative measures. This idea is being discussed openly, so there is no cloak and dagger here - I've not been made privy to information that I shouldn't be sharing.

The company is around 30 people, about half are technical. This company isn' t in the general habit of screwing over its employees - I would rather stay there, so quitting isn't on the table. This question is with regard to those of us who are on fixed salaries, and wouldn't be receiving any additional compensation for working overtime.

I am a developer, and I get consulted for technical decisions, but not so much in general business ones like this, so I won't get a veto. I have to rely on my powers of persuasion. I am happy to speak out on behalf of the general team, but I am not in HR, so once again I must be persuasive if I am to affect policy.

We are on an efficiency drive and one of the ideas that pops up regluarly is the idea of people staying behind after work to do unpaid training or overtime. It's still in the discussion stage and hasn't yet been announced.

I can navigate around this, but I'm concerned for more junior staff who won't have the courage to speak out or set the ground rules. On the other hand, I don't want to lead a rebellion, or undermine the general strategy.

We need to make it clear to those in charge that they are in dangerous territory and that bullying won't be tolerated - how do we respond while we have this window of opportunity?

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    "people staying behind after work to do unpaid training or overtime" is not an "efficiency drive". It's a "how do we screw our employees drive". It seems like your management has a very skewed view on "efficiency".
    – brhans
    Mar 22, 2018 at 20:24
  • 3
    Is this "efficiency drive" a temporary thing until times get better? Or is it intended to be permanent? If the former, then management must attach a hard date to the end of the program... and "When things get better" is not a hard date. If the latter, see @brhans comment. Mar 22, 2018 at 20:25
  • 4
    It's hard to address this without knowing the specifics of the company's situation. If an employer I loved needed a few extra hours here or there in order to stay viable, that would be a different story than forced overtime without pay for all staff in order to let ownership line their wallet a little more. Are there other policies up for debate? Do you have other "efficiency" ideas? Also, it's hard to address your concern for the junior staff. Are you looking for ideas on how to mentor them and teach them to have the courage they don't have? Or ideas for how you can speak out on their behalf?
    – dwizum
    Mar 22, 2018 at 20:33
  • 2
    dwizim, I understand, but stackexchange isn't a per individual question and answer site, if a question is to be valuable to people viewing it later with a similar problem, it has to be a little bit generalised. Mar 22, 2018 at 20:36
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    As you are salaried do you have the potential for a bonus or other compensation? I'm in IT and have been on 'death-marches' before (60+ hours a week for months on end). If you're not getting additional pay or comp time (time off in exchange for working OT) then the only thing you can do is find a new job. Health (physical and mental) will suffer.
    – JazzmanJim
    Mar 22, 2018 at 20:58

1 Answer 1


Gently inform your employer of the downside

Be careful not to be threatening in your explanation. Don't make it about you, make it about your colleagues.

Setup some time to talk with your boss one on one, and let him/her know about your concerns for the team. Adding forced overtime can be a huge morale killer, even when it is paid overtime. Unpaid overtime will be especially problematic, and is likely to foster resentment on the team.

Burnout will be an ever more present threat, and will likely further detract from productivity.

There are a lot of drawbacks as I'm sure you know, but it is a very common problem. The topic of overtime and unpaid overtime has been discussed at length here at the Workplace. While we have yet to address the specific question you have posed, we have talked a lot about the adverse affects of too much overtime, and how to handle the intricacies of this difficult situation.

For that reason I feel that the answers to these questions would be really beneficial to you:

Is doing unpaid overtime a bad thing?

Working late without overtime pay, good idea or not?

How do I maintain a work-life balance when company culture tends towards frequent overtime?

How to prevent my boss from forcefully making my team work overtime

Being asked to do work "on your own time"

How common is overtime in programming field?

How (and if) to ask to be paid for overtime (Ontario Engineer)

Workplace is starting to turn into a toxic environment. How can I improve it?

  • 1
    On point answer, make it about your concern for the team. List of relevant links is great too, very nice! Mar 22, 2018 at 21:02
  • Yes, this is good, focus on the whole team not just an individual. Really focus on COMP TIME.
    – Neo
    Mar 23, 2018 at 2:09

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