Many employees fear losing their jobs as a result of the pandemic and often turn to overworking to avoid redundancy. However according to Professor Argyro Avgoustaki from ESCP Business School, this has a negative impact on wellbeing and may make people less productive.

Well-being is defined as an individual’s state of mental, physical and general health. There are many factors that may negatively affect employee well-being, and managers need to be aware of these.

“Individuals who work extensively or intensively experience negative well-being outcomes such as stress, fatigue, burnout, exhaustion, illness, and reduced satisfaction” says Avgoustaki.

Working overtime reduces the amount of time an employee has available to take rest and recover, while work intensity reduces opportunities for recovery during the working day.

“Lack of recovery accumulates over time and ultimately decreases an employee’s ability to perform at adequate levels and deliver quality work. Tired employees are less alert and more prone to making mistakes” says Avgoustaki.

Yet despite the detrimental effects of overworking, people keep doing it. Employees often work excessively in order to have better chances at career advancement, gain social recognition and praise, and avoid losing their job.

To prevent this, managers need to lead by example. They should encourage environments in which excessive work is not a norm but only used by exception in very busy periods.

“Managers need to provide some discretion over how and when work should be done as well as creating meaningful work experiences will help employee well-being. This way, at times when employees have to work harder, their well-being, and in turn productivity, will be better preserved” says Avgoustaki.

If employees need to work constantly under pressure then their well-being will deteriorate, and an unhappy employee is a less productive employee. Essentially if we can understand employee well-being, we will also understand how employees can become more productive.

CEO Coach Peter Ryding, founder of AI Coaching and Performance Management System, VIC Your Coach, says stress and overwork can impact performance at all levels.  He says:

“I enjoyed a successful career as a CEO, turnaround CEO and C-Suite Coach before creating VIC, which uses AI to deliver the power of tailored coaching to all employees.  Tackling stress and overwork is one of the most important aspects of coaching – no matter what position someone holds, stress and overwork will stagnate performance and career progression, and if it is the CEO, the whole company can be impacted.  More importantly, overwork also impacts home life and makes people miserable, so it’s something we have lots of resources for on VIC.

“HR leaders recognise the need for better engagement, stress reduction and mental health support, while the CEO wants to see performance improvements – I look forward to the day where these objectives are recognised as part of the same process.”


By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.