In an ideal world, nobody would have to work – but we live in a different kind of world. In fact, from time to time, you’re going to have (or, perhaps, want) to work more hours than usual. When that time comes, you’ll have to ask for more hours.
So, how can you politely ask your boss for more hours?
Explain why you need the extra hours, commit to working harder than before, and be sure to ask at the right time. If you follow these three rules, you have a higher chance of getting what you want.
There’s more to it than just asking for more hours. Sometimes, you’ll have to wait until you get an answer – and then deal with what happens later, for better or worse. Read down below to find out.
Before you ask
You shouldn’t ask for more hours right away. In fact, you need to be on your best behavior for a little while before you try to get the overtime you desire.
It’s not that difficult to improve your chances of getting extra hours at work:
Get to your job on time every day, fulfill every task, show initiative to do extra work, don’t start nor participate in office drama, and maintain a good relationship with your coworkers (who may or may not have to vouch for you if you want to get extra work hours).
The gist is to lay the ground before you walk to your boss’s office. The better you do before, the better your chances are of getting what you want after.
How to ask
1. Explain why
Saying why you need more hours is crucial. Doing so will help you bond with your boss on a human level, and that might tip the scales in your favor. For example:
“I need a little extra money because I have a baby on the way”.
The reason can be frivolous too:
“I wanted to buy a car for so long, but I need extra money to make it happen.”
The key here is to avoid sounding like the company pays you too little but, instead, that you need more money for external reasons.
2. Make a commitment
You’re going to ask for more hours because you need more money, not out of the kindness of your heart.
Show your boss he’s going to get a good return on his investment.
Pinpoint how you can improve the company by working more hours. For example:
“When I’m doing overtime, I’ll make sure to take care of…”
…and list possible improvements.
3. Time it right
When you ask is as important as how you ask. You’re not going to get more hours if you ask during a crisis or a hectic time for upper management.
Try to ask when everything is doing well – or, at least, not doing too bad.
4. Ask, don’t push
The right way to ask is a gentle one. Getting more hours or not depends on your boss alone – and that could mean your tone will decide whether you get what you want or not.
“I was wondering if I could get extra hours at work”
“I need more hours starting this Monday”
is too bossy – and not the right tone when talking to your boss.
5. Go through proper channels
Worrying about such a thing might seem like no big deal, but it’s crucial.
If you work for a big company, you probably have to ask for more hours in writing; if not, you can ask your boss in a one-on-one conversation.
Either way, be polite, civil, and easy-going.
What to do while you wait for your answer
After you ask for more hours, the real work begins.
Under no situation should you take a break or show carelessness.
You have to put your game face on and play like you’re on the world championships.
Why do you need to do that? More often than not, your boss will pay extra attention to you right after you ask for more hours. As you know, a boss wants to be sure whether the extra work is needed and the extra pay, worth it.
Imagine you’re the boss and someone asks for extra hours, then takes a two-hour lunch from twelve to two, and a one-hour break at three. After that, he goes home early. Will you give that person more work? No, because he wouldn’t do it right.
So, try to give it your best. Get there early, leave late, and give it your all in between.
Try to look for ways to improve your work
Being there at the office is only half.
You need to prove your worth by being proactive.
That means that not only should you be there, but you should also try to go the extra mile while you’re there.
What does that mean? It’s simple. If you’re on sales, try to sell 20% more. If you’re on customer service, make sure every client leaves with a smile. If you’re a driver, get to locations on time (or, even better, earlier than expected). And so on and on.
Once again, put yourself in the shoes of your boss to understand how important doing this part is. Would you be willing to deny more hours to a valuable worker? That would mean assuming the risk of losing him.
Even if the numbers are tight, you might move things around to grant his request.
Dealing with the aftermath
So, you have asked for more hours and now the decision has been made.
If you get more hours
Congratulations! You have what you wanted!
Now it’s time to get to work. Try to show your commitment by working extra hard. And, when things are slow and you have a second, approach your boss and thank him.
Why should you thank your boss? Because you need to show appreciation. And it doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing.
Simply approach your boss and say:
“Thanks for the extra hours, boss. If you need anything, let me know.”
You never know when you’re going to need something else. Perhaps, when a promotion is available, you’ll be the one who gets it – but only if you have a good relationship with your boss.
And, in order to create a good relationship, you need to show appreciation.
If you don’t get more hours
There was a fifty-fifty chance of getting more hours – and, unfortunately, you got the rough side of the deal. Don’t let that throw you off-balance, though.
In this scenario, there are two routes you can take: one, staying at your job; two, looking for something else.
If you decide to stay at your job, keep the same work ethic you used so far. You never know. Perhaps, your boss can’t give extra hours this month, but he can the next.
“Excuse me, boss. I don’t mean to pry, but could you tell me the reason why I didn’t get the extra hours I requested? Was it due to poor performance?”
Never shift blame onto the company, or else you’ll come off as rude.
Should you quit if you don’t get more hours?
On the other hand, you can also consider quitting if the money isn’t right for you. Ideally, you wouldn’t have to quit your job – but, as you know, we’re not living in an ideal world.
So, whether to quit or not is entirely up to you. Nobody can give you any serious piece of advice without fully knowing and understanding your situation. The only piece of advice anyone can give you is to avoid rushing in any direction.
If you’re going to quit, take a week or two to think about it.
You can use this time to look for another job.
When you know what to do, do so – but, as always, do so in a polite manner.
How to quit your job the right way
Have you decided to quit your job? Alright! Time for a new chapter in your life.
Remember: even though you’re starting a new job, there’s no need to burn any old bridges.
What does that mean? Well, don’t overreact when it’s time to quit. Don’t insult anyone, don’t disrespect anyone, and don’t ghost your previous employers. Make sure they know you’re quitting and when that will happen.
Doing so is important for two reasons: one, being polite is always the right choice; two, you never know if you’re going to need your old job back. So, why risk it?
Say goodbye to everyone at the old office, so you can start fresh at the new one.
At the end of the day, being polite no matter the scenario will benefit you in many ways. Whether you get the extra hours or not (and whether you decide to stay at your job or not afterward), always do so politely.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.