June 20, 2016 — The practice of working outside standard work hours is so ingrained in American culture that a majority of full-time salaried employees in the U.S. would work off-the-clock even if it was against company policy. The finding comes from a new survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, conducted online by Harris Poll in May 2016, following the Obama Administration’s recent update to the overtime rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Starting Dec. 1, the updated rule requires that organizations pay overtime to full-time salaried workers who make less than $47,476 per year for working more than 40 hours per week.
The “Obsessed with Overtime: Prepping for FLSA’s New OT Rule” survey is the first in a two-part series exploring possible unintended consequences of the regulation. It was conducted from May 25-27, 2016 among 845 full- and part-time employed U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, to explore America’s obsession with after-hours work; if white collar organizations are prepared to track time and attendance; and the impact that the new regulations may have on workplace flexibility and employee engagement.
- Work is life: America’s obsession with working. As the line between work and life continues to blur, a staggering 81 percent of U.S. salaried employees report that they conduct work outside of their standard work hours – and it happens far more often than once a week.
- Over a quarter (29 percent) admit they conduct work outside of standard work hours three or more days per week, while 16 percent confess to being workaholics who put in extra hours five to seven days per week.
- The updated FLSA rule might not do much to end this after-hours practice: 63 percent of full-time salaried employees admit that they would work “off-the-clock” even if it were against company policy.
- Only one in four U.S. salaried employees (25 percent) say they conduct work outside of standard work hours less than once per week, while a mere 19 percent say they never do.
- What’s so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow? The primary cause for working beyond standard work hours, according to salaried employees who admit to working outside of standard work hours, is that they simply have too much on their plates. However, that’s not the only reason:
- For 40 percent of salaried employees who claim to work beyond normal work hours, a heavier-than-usual workload was cited, while 37 percent needed to meet an urgent deadline.
- Nearly one-third (31 percent) feel they have too much work on an ongoing basis to complete it all during their work day.
- However, 27 percent state they work outside of work hours because their employers offer that flexibility.
- Additionally, 17 percent reported that they prefer to work outside of normal work hours to get things done, and 15 percent stated they preferred to work after hours to prepare and stay organized.
- Keeping track of the time: Are employers ready? Under the updated FLSA rule, any full-time salaried worker making less than $47,476 will become eligible for overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week. Tracking employee time will present profound engagement, operations, and, ultimately, compliance challenges for ill-prepared organizations, of which there are many:
- The “Obsessed with Overtime” survey found that 39 percent, or almost two out of every five salaried employees, are not required to track and report their time today.
- Among salaried employees, the most common time-tracking method is computer software (39 percent), while nine percent still fill out paper time sheets. Only four percent use a mobile application to track their hours. Nine percent report using another method.
- Of those employed by organizations that do not require the tracking and reporting of hours worked, 77 percent stated they have conducted work outside of work hours.
- Always connected, always working. The ubiquity of mobile phones is the primary reason salaried employees simply can’t unplug, and the adoption of text messaging for business has become commonplace.
- More than half of all employees (55 percent) who conduct work outside of standard work hours blamed checking and / or sending work email.
- While phone calls may be falling out of favor as a form of communication, 24 percent reported speaking on the phone with colleagues, clients, or customers outside standard work hours.
- Text messaging is joining the ranks as a tool to do business, with 23 percent of salaried employees admitting they send after-hours work texts to colleagues, clients, or customers.
- One reason for this may be that 18 percent of full/part-time employees reported that they don’t consider it “work.” That’s slightly ahead of work email (17 percent), and well ahead of a telephone call (10 percent).
- Is a 40-hour work week even possible? Yes, with a little help. Surprisingly, seven in 10 full-time salaried employees (70 percent) think they could get the job done in 40 hours per week – if their employer helped out.
- When asked what change they would propose to their employer to be more productive and complete job duties in under 40 hours per week, 30 percent suggested a flexible start and end time to the work day, such as choosing between 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Fewer meetings (27 percent) and shorter meetings (18 percent) were popular suggestions by full-time salaried employees to get the job done without working after hours.
- Streamlining workflows and processes (25 percent), hiring another team member (24 percent), and redistributing job duties (22 percent) were three of the more popular suggested changes.
- Although FLSA regulations could result in more oversight and tighter scheduling by managers, one in five full-time salaried employees said more autonomy would actually help them get more done in 40 hours.
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of Kronos Incorporated from May 25-27, 2016 among 2,023 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, of whom 845 are full- and part-time employed U.S. adults, including 354 who identified as being a salaried employee. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.