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Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance


Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is a financial metric used to measure the difference between the actual labor hours used in production and the standard labor hours allocated for that production, multiplied by the variable overhead rate. It helps in determining how effectively a company utilized its resources during the production process. A positive variance indicates efficient resource usage, while a negative variance highlights potential inefficiencies.


The phonetics of the keyword “Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance” are as follows:Variable: ˈvɛəriəb(ə)lOverhead: ˌəʊvəˈhɛdEfficiency: ɪˈfɪʃ(ə)nsiVariance: ˈvɛərɪəns

Key Takeaways

  1. Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance measures the efficiency of a company’s labor or resource usage in the production process. It indicates the difference between the actual variable overhead usage and the predetermined standard variable overhead usage for actual output.
  2. When the Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is positive, it means the company is spending more on variable overhead than planned. A negative variance indicates that the company is spending less on variable overhead than projected, and the production process is more efficient.
  3. Management can use the Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance to identify and analyze the reasons for differences in efficiency, such as employee productivity, machine breakdowns, or resource wastage, and take appropriate actions to optimize production.


The Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is important in the realm of business and finance because it enables organizations to identify and analyze discrepancies between the actual labor efficiency and the standard or budgeted efficiency for variable overhead expenses. This key performance metric highlights areas where businesses can optimize their resource allocation and increase productivity, driving financial gains. By monitoring this variance, companies can pinpoint operational inefficiencies, develop targeted solutions for improvement, and make informed strategic decisions to enhance overall cost management and profitability.


Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is a critical financial metric used by businesses to analyze their production efficiency and cost management. It helps companies evaluate and understand the efficiency with which they utilize their resources and workforce during the manufacturing process. The purpose of variable overhead efficiency variance is to identify discrepancies between actual resource utilization and the standard or budgeted resource allocation. A favorable variance indicates efficient use of resources, whereas an unfavorable variance highlights inefficiency and potential areas that require improvement to optimize production costs. The variable overhead efficiency variance serves as a valuable decision-making tool for organizations, allowing them to detect and address inefficiencies in their production processes and, subsequently, enhance their overall financial performance. By closely monitoring and addressing variances, management can implement targeted cost control measures, resulting in lower operational expenses and improved profitability. Furthermore, it sheds light on the effectiveness of workforce planning, with a focus on analyzing workforce capacity, skill sets, and training initiatives to ensure optimal alignment with business goals and objectives. By using the variable overhead efficiency variance, businesses can swiftly identify areas in need of strategic intervention, thereby promoting efficient resource allocation, cost control, and organizational success.


Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance refers to the difference between the actual variable overhead incurred and the standard variable overhead that should have been incurred based on the actual production levels. This concept is used in cost accounting to measure the efficiency of a production process. Here are three real-world examples: 1. Manufacturing Plant: A manufacturing plant for electronic gadgets has budgeted its variable overhead costs at a standard rate of $10 per labor hour, expecting to produce 10,000 units in a month. If the plant produces 11,000 units in a month using the same number of labor hours, the variable overhead efficiency variance would be positive, indicating that the plant was more efficient than initially planned. 2. Food Packaging Factory: A food packaging factory has estimated that it would produce 20,000 packages per month, with a variable overhead cost of $5 per machine hour, assuming 4,000 hours of machine operation. However, the factory was able to produce the same number of packages in 3,600 machine hours. In this case, the variable overhead efficiency variance would be $2,000 favorable (400 hours saved * $5 per machine hour), as the factory reduced its machine operating hours while maintaining the same production level. 3. Textile Mill: A textile mill plans to produce 40,000 yards of fabric in a month at a variable overhead cost of $3 per direct labor hour, expecting 8,000 labor hours to be utilized. However, due to improved labor skills and new machinery, the mill is able to produce the same output in only 7,500 labor hours. The variable overhead efficiency variance in this case would be $1,500 favorable (500 hours saved * $3 per direct labor hour), as they achieved the target production level using fewer labor hours than anticipated.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance?
Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is a metric used in management accounting and financial analysis to determine the difference between the actual hours worked and the standard hours allowed, multiplied by the variable overhead rate per hour. This metric helps companies evaluate how efficiently their workforce and resources are being utilized in production.
How is Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance calculated?
The formula to calculate Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is:Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance = (Actual Hours Worked – Standard Hours Allowed) * Variable Overhead Rate per Hour
What does a favorable Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance indicate?
A favorable Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance indicates that the company efficiently used its resources and workforce during the production process. This may be the result of higher productivity, more effective resource allocation, or improved processes.
What does an unfavorable Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance indicate?
An unfavorable Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance indicates that the company was less efficient than expected during the production process, leading to higher variable overhead costs. This can be caused by increased resource wastage, procedural problems, or reduced workforce productivity.
How can a business improve their Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance?
There are multiple ways a business can improve their Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance. These include optimizing resource allocation, reducing wastage, increasing workforce productivity, streamlining processes, and investing in better technology or machinery.
In what industries is Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance commonly used?
Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is commonly used in industries where production processes are heavily reliant on labor and resources, such as manufacturing, construction, and agriculture. It is especially relevant in businesses where variable overhead costs can significantly impact profitability.
How does Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance relate to other financial metrics?
Variable Overhead Efficiency Variance is often used alongside other financial metrics that assess overall cost efficiency and profitability, such as Fixed Overhead Variance, Direct Labor Efficiency Variance, and Material Cost Variance. Together, these metrics provide a comprehensive overview of a company’s production cost-efficiency and profitability performance.

Related Finance Terms

  • Production Efficiency
  • Variable Overhead Rate
  • Actual Input Quantity
  • Standard Input Quantity
  • Resource Utilization

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