and getting paid for it or being able to take comp time — is a good opportunity for some workers who say they need the extra cash...

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Working overtime — and getting paid for it or being able to take comp time — is a good opportunity for some workers who say they need the extra cash or the earned leisure.

But many workers don’t like additional hours for any reason at all because, they say, overtime wears them out, causes stress and reduces time off for their personal lives.

And there’s one expert who says overtime probably isn’t necessary in the first place.

Chris Ortiz is a quality-engineering supervisor for a manufacturing company in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ortiz, author of “40+: Overtime Under Poor Leadership” (AuthorHouse, $24.95), stresses that “bad, inefficient management” usually is the reason overtime is needed in the first place.

The industrial engineer, who has a staff of 25, points out that a closer look at the need for overtime reveals that the emperor — in this case, the manager — is indeed naked.

“There are instances where you do need overtime, for instance to expedite a huge, unexpected order, but in most cases, with good time management and balancing workloads, overtime can be avoided,” said Ortiz, who also lectures on the subject.

“The problem is an inability on the part of managers to identify skill sets and avoid time crunches.”

He says the problem is that in corporate America, “every quarter has to be better than the one before, so there’s a huge drive at the end of each quarter to make shareholders happy — and the result is that employees have to work far longer hours in relatively unorganized situations.”

And overtime is not harmless. “It causes family problems because you’re not at home,” said Ortiz. “It causes stress because you’re not allowed to enjoy the fruits of life.”

Many employees, he notes, automatically say yes to overtime.

“People are afraid to say no; they’re scared because the company hangs their jobs in front of their faces,” he said.

Ortiz says a good manager should know what his employees’ interests are outside work and try to accommodate them.

On those “very small, brief moments” when he needs someone to work overtime,” Ortiz makes sure time off with pay is offered at the same time as the request — not an order — to work.

Ortiz’s own disillusionment with overtime arose when he met his future wife in 2000 and wanted to spend more time with her.

“I was single, happy, making a lot of money and didn’t care about the hours,” said Ortiz, now married and a father. “But very quickly I wanted more time off.”

He didn’t get it and had to leave that job, which required 12-hour workdays, taking work home and skipping lunches.

His advice for employees who are asked to work extra hours: “Recognize what you’re giving up and decide if that overtime is going to hurt the things that really are important to you in life.”

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.