If You Think Overtime Sucks, You Should Think Twice

Jeff Cuellar



I don’t blame you for wanting to mutiny HMS Bounty-style every time your boss mentions he needs “all hands on deck” to work beyond the 8-hour mark. Yeah, it sucks missing out on things like your favourite Channel 5 show, or “happy hour” whenever you work late.

But overtime isn’t really as black and white as people think – it’s a grey area that can help you achieve better career payoffs, or turn your working life into a not-so-humorous version of Office Space. If you want to make overtime work for you, you’ve got to minimize the grumbling (I know it’s tough!) to focus on what YOU’RE getting out of it.

Here are 3 reasons why you should see the occasional bout of overtime not so much as a chore, but as an opportunity to attain the following benefits:


1. Show Me the Money!

The biggest short-term benefit to working overtime is the increased pay. For many of us, this is the only reason we put up with staying past the 8-hour mark – and it’s a good one! According to the Ministry of Manpower, if you work more than 44 hours a week, you’re entitled to 1.5X your hourly salary.

For example:

If you’re making $3,000 a month – that roughly $15 dollar-per-hour wage jumps to almost $24 with overtime. That means that if you push past the 6pm mark and work an extra 5 hours, you’ve already DOUBLED the amount of money you’ve made that day! And if you work 25 hours of overtime that month, you’re essentially making an extra week’s income that you can use towards paying down debt, investing, or taking a quick holiday somewhere.

Of course, that’s assuming you’re working for an MNC that strictly follows Singapore’s labor laws.

But if you’re working for an SME that likes to handle things under the table, you have good reason to gripe about your boss asking you to stay late – but essentially, money is still the benefit but in a… different sort of way.

Maybe you really like working there, but the company is still growing and has some trouble with revenue at times. Working some overtime to make sure the company makes enough to pay you your FULL salary on time is motivation enough to put in some overtime hours each month.


2. About that Promotion…

This is more of a long-term benefit of working overtime, if you’re smart about it. The idea is that if you’re asked to work overtime, you shouldn’t just give the automatic “WTF!” response, but impress your supervisor by doing the opposite – nodding your head with some enthusiasm and saying “I’ll get it done!”

You’ll definitely stand out with your employer is you show some dedication, and actually back up your enthusiasm by completing your project sooner than they expect it. In many work places, this sort of approach to handling overtime will get you noticed when it comes to performance evaluations and more importantly – promotion!

And if your supervisor is about as oblivious to your contributions as certain political parties are to public opinion, then you should kindly remind him/her about it. But if that doesn’t work, then you should prepare to find a better job.


3. I’ve Got the Time, So Why Not?

This one is more for the 25-30+ year old high-flyers who want to rise quickly. Volunteering to work an extra hour or two a day (even if it’s “unpaid” overtime, it will pay off eventually), you’ll show your supervisors that you want to get up to speed with the job as quickly as possible. Employers love this kind of initiative because it shows that you’re a bit more dedicated than employees who see the job as simply as “paycheck.”

Taking this approach to overtime is also a quicker approach to attaining points 1 & 2 above, and can even help you land extra time off if you play your cards right. Let’s say you spend a few extra hours each day trying to finish a project – if you know you’ll finish a project a day or two before the deadline, you can ask your boss about giving you a day off. That way, you get a 3-day weekend AND the extra overtime pay as your reward!

Just be weary that this is also called “spoiling the market,” and might not make you too popular with your co-workers. If you’re facing the dilemma of choosing to between being “popular” or “successful,” ask yourself this question: “Who is paying my salary?” That should make your choice pretty clear.



Overtime can be useful if you’re looking to improve both your short- and long-term bottom line. But again, it’s a “grey” area that can easily make your working life hell. Let’s compare overtime to say… being a galley slave from the movie Ben Hur.



A regular work day might be the same as rowing at “attack speed.” But once you move into overtime at “ramming speed,” working at it for too long may leave you burned out, unmotivated, and unproductive. In this situation, unless your boss has a good reason for making you work late or the financial benefit still motivates you, it’s best to take a break, or find another job.


How have you benefitted from working overtime? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.

Comments (1)

  1. No. It blows. I work an office job and sitting on my ass 8 hours is long enough. I want to get home, get my exercise done, and relax. No way in hell would I ever stay FIVE hours over in a day…I want a life yet.

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