Fight the Clock: Preventing Overtime

by EnvirOx
Fight the Clock: Preventing Overtime

There are many reasons why overtime becomes necessary, and they might not all seem within your control as a manager of a janitorial staff. But there are things you can do to help prevent overtime. It's essential to control overtime because it can lead to a variety of issues that will impact your staff and how effectively they can do their job including:

  • Increased health issues: High blood pressure, mental health problems, and back injuries are just some of the issues related to working excessive overtime.
  • Safety risks: More errors can result as people work longer hours because of fatigue.
  • Decreased productivity: After 50 hours, productivity falls off a cliff. In fact, a Stanford University study found that someone who works 70 hours doesn’t produce more than someone working 55 hours.
  • Decreased morale: Companies with higher overtime have more morale problems as staff becomes more worn down and frustrated.
  • High turnover rates: Fatigued and frustrated employees are going to start looking for another job with better work/life balance.1

What contributes to overtime for a custodial staff? How can you prevent it? Here are three areas you can look into:


Are cleaning staff held accountable for not finishing their work on time? If they don’t finish something, are they asked why? Is the reason investigated to improve the situation? Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day activities and forget to examine these issues. Just remember to approach this in a way that makes the staff member understand that you’re not asking the question to accuse them of anything. It’s very possible that the issue is some factor out of their control and in your control. Make it clear that you’re just trying to help them do their job better.


Wait, you’re asking, wasn’t this one of the results of overtime too? Yes. This is one of the factors that can be a deadly cycle where low morale leads to overtime which leads to even lower morale. It’s a spiral you want to correct as soon as possible. We’ll go more into moral in a future blog, or you can sign-up for our free E-book with the form on this page to get the info now.

Cleaning Methods

Are the products and procedures your staff is using to clean the best they can be? If you’re using products that aren’t effective or require a lot of reapplication or rework, then that could be eating into a custodian’s work.

Take a holistic approach to what might be causing too much overtime. Even if there are other factors not in your control, taking steps to correct the areas above can make a difference and help compensate for those.

Want to find out more?

Request a free copy of our W.I.S.D.O.M. e-Book. It goes over this material, as well as covers five other issues that face facility managers. It's focused on higher education facilities, but the issues themselves apply to many kinds of custodial staff.

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  1. Shaw, J. (2017). 6 Negative Effects of Making Employees Work Overtime. Newsmax. Retrieved from:

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