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Employee overtime adds ‘significantly’ to SME energy costs

Employees working overtime can significantly add to an organisation’s energy usage and costs. With research showing three quarters of employees at Britain’s small-to-medium sized businesses (SMEs) clocking an additional 1.9 hours a day on average, the potential cost to business is immense.

The average SME employee works overtime three days a week, and almost a quarter (22%) admitted that most or all of the lights are kept on when they are the last person in their workplace, independent research carried out amongst 2,000 professionals for energy company E.ON has found.

Responsibility for switching off at the end of the working day is left to individuals in most cases, with only a small number of workplaces operating timer systems for lights (5%), air conditioning (9%) or heating (25%). Most people (62%) believe switching the heating and lighting off is the responsibility of the last person in the office, but a quarter (23%) see it as the specific responsibility of others including office managers, cleaners and security staff.

Anthony Ainsworth from E.ON said: “At an average of two hours a day, three days a week, it’s clear Britain’s workforce are going significantly beyond the call of duty – and while this can be good for business there are also negative implications.

“Working very long hours can impact on employees’ wellbeing and lifestyle, preventing people from achieving a healthy work/life balance, but it can also prove costly. Our results show many businesses remain fully lit, heated and air conditioned after hours – sometimes for just one employee. With the extent of overtime being carried out across the UK on a daily basis, this has the potential to add significantly to energy bills.”

Ainsworth added: “Introducing heating and light timers can aide efficiency but by simply remembering to switch off lights in empty rooms and corridors, especially at the end of the day, we estimate businesses can save up to 15% on energy bills.”

According to the latest Eurostat report on full-time employment, Brits work more hours per week than any over European nation. At an average of 42.2 hours the UK is well above average, outstripping other big economies such as Germany (40.7), France (39.5) and Italy (38.8).2


Most overtime worked by company role – highest percentage working overtime five days a week 1.     CEO/Owner
2.     HR
3.     Line Manager/Senior manager
4.     Junior executive
5.     Office manager
6.     Administration


Most overtime worked by sector – highest percentage of employees working over three hours a day 1.     Hospitality
2.     Manufacturing
3.     Retail
4.     Transport/logistics
5.     Education


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