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.
Today in Massachusetts we're experiencing our 3rd nor'easter this month, with up to 24" of snow expected in the Boston area. People who don't need to go to the office to do their work are hunkering down at home, laptop in lap and cocoa in hand. That is, as long as they still have power. If school is cancelled, as it is almost everywhere in Massachusetts today, working parents are juggling childcare alongside their work responsibilities.
For many workers, though, there is no work-from-home option. Workers in emergency services, healthcare, public works, and other professions don't get a pass for inclement weather. In many cases, they are not only working, but working overtime.
What can employers do to balance the needs of their business with the needs of their employees when extreme weather strikes? Here are some strategies to cope:
Workers appreciate it when their employers put their safety first. Employee engagement and loyalty starts with a trusted relationship with their employer. When the employer makes it clear that they are committed to protecting their workers' safety by allowing them to stay home in bad weather, that goes a long way toward building that trust.
Encourage working from home (where possible) when the weather is severe. Many employees are already armed with laptops and can do their jobs from home. Employers are already leveraging this reality to meet their talent requirements with geographically dispersed workers. For those mobile workers who normally report to an office, managers can make it clear in advance that working from home will be supported when the weather makes it dangerous and/or unproductive to commute.
Special considerations for hourly employees. For employees paid on an hourly basis, the issue arises about how to pay them (or not) when the business is closed due to weather. While many companies can't afford to pay people when they are closed for business, they might consider creative strategies to help people make up for lost time. Consider the option of including non-paid time lost on account of weather in daily and weekly overtime threshold calculations. This ensures that people will reach overtime thresholds sooner, without having to pay them for the time lost. Small concessions like these let employees know that you recognize their need to make up the lost pay and can help to build loyalty.
Leverage data analytics to plan staffing. For many businesses, weather that makes it tough to commute will make it equally likely that fewer customers will show up to be served. Companies using automated time and attendance, scheduling and analytics tools can leverage historical data to better plan for anticipated weather related disruptions to their business. Those businesses can plan for fewer staff, and work with their employees to staff necessary positions with the workers who are more willing and able to brave the elements; i.e. those who live closer, don't have child care or elder care issues to manage, etc.
Leverageflex time. Allow people to work around the weather. You may not need as many people on the bad weather day (see #4 above), but you may need more to catch up in the days to follow.
Provide transportation alternatives. In truly extreme circumstances, companies may need to provide their employees with transportation to and from public transportation hubs and/or from home.
Have anextreme weather contingency plan. The plan should detail standard operating procedures during extreme weather including: how to contact personnel; prioritization of skills and roles needed; how personnel can contact their workplace; how to assess the staffing needs given the weather to avoid under- or over-staffing; how to account for the weather event in the time and attendance/ payroll system(s), etc.
What does your organization due to help employees - and the business - to cope with severe weather?
And just like that, 2016 is [almost] behind us.
A lot has happened in 2016, in and out of the workplace. But when it comes to topics we covered on this blog, you all had some specific areas of interest. Some of the topics you found most interesting this year included the FLSA overtime changes; employee engagement tips and best practices; part two of our survey regarding how managers, employees, and HR differ when it comes to who owns company culture; and how the SuperBowl affects the workforce the day after the big game, to name a few.
As you enjoy your well-deserved holiday downtime, we hope you'll take a few minutes to read through the top 10 most popular posts we published here at The Workforce Institute in 2016. And if you have topics you'd like us to write about in 2017 - or even better, if you're interested in contributing to this blog yourself - please let us know by commenting on this post.
Thank you to all of our guest authors in 2016, and Happy New Year!