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Who has the Friday Feeling” It’s nearly time to clock off!

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According to the Trades Union Congress, employees gave away £27.4bn in unpaid overtime in 2009.

To put it into context, this means that if everyone who worked unpaid overtime did it from the start of the year, they would only start getting paid on Friday 26 February (today, incidentally).

Shocking, but it won’t come as a big surprise to anyone: most employees work overtime. In fact, Britain often tops the list as working the longest hours in Europe.

Do you pay your employees for their extra work” If so, good on you, as most bosses don’t. Research by business management software provider Sage UK shows that 40 per cent of businesses never pay for overtime.

“In the current economic climate, many employees feel the need to work long hours,” says Brendan Flattery, MD of Sage’s small business division. “But it’s important that people continue to strike the right work-life balance.”

We wholeheartedly agree: a healthy work-life balance is vital to maintaining a productive and happy workforce.

But when it’s 5pm, and your staff have that important pitch to finish, what do you do” Send them off home, or see if they’ll stay a little later to get it done

Real Business supports a common-sense approach. By no means are we advocating that you should chain your staff to their desks until 7pm every night, but you shouldn’t have to kick everyone out at 5pm either. Sometimes work just takes a little longer to get done than anticipated.

If your employees actually enjoy working with you and are passionate about what you’re trying to achieve, they won’t mind.

The key is making sure that you keep them happy, rewarding them in other ways. LOVEFiLM.com, for example, always offers free fruit to its employees, and often throws barbeques for staff in the summer, cooked by Simon Calvert himself!

So although sometimes your team has to work a little later, make sure you thank and reward them for their efforts. It’ll pay off in the long run.

Related articles:How to stay saneShorter working hours, less common sense

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