Use the new overtime rules to your advantage

May 25, 2016 | Downloadable Tools for Leaders, Executive Coaching Blogs, Pro Troublemaker Nation

Recently the Department of Labor announced new overtime rules that affect employees making around $48,000 per year. Currently employees who make less than $23,000-ish per year must be classified as nonexempt (i.e. hourly) employees who track their time and get paid over time for more than 40 hours per week.

Over the years, most organizations have worked to ensure that hourly employees aren’t working overtime via checking their work email after hours (and other technology access).

For those do-gooders out there, you’ve probably been checking email or managing social media after hours and not counting it as work. You know who you are.

Now these same rules (for being hourly and tracking time) will apply to earners making less than $47,476 per year. This covers a much bigger group of people in our nonprofits and small, purpose-driven businesses.

My friends at FirstPerson have done a fantastic job of articulating the organizational implications of this rule change: cultural, emotional, and financial.

Why this matters to youtime is money

I took a look at the most recent  survey data from Charitable Advisors here in Central Indiana. These positions are typically salaried/exempt and making $48,000-ish. So you may have some changes coming your way, based on what your organization decides.

  • Program directors/managers
  • Bookkeepers
  • Directors of communication
  • Membership, special events, and volunteer coordinators
  • Office managers and executive administrative support

Any staff person who is currently exempt and making less than this new threshold should anticipate having their job and salary reviewed. For organizations that rely on employees to work 45 to 50 in a normal week and are facing overtime, there can be significant cost ramifications, which means you could earn significantly more. Your employer is going to need to make some careful decisions and here’s what may happen for you:

  • You’ll receive a raise above $47,476 and your job description will be updated to include duties that require independent discretion (if they don’t already).
  • You’ll be prohibited from earning overtime.
  • You’ll be asked to take an hourly pay cut and earn overtime, but at a reduced rate, so that you can still work those 45 to 50 hours. This means you’ll make the same amount of money, but be working more.
  • You’ll have limited access to email or databases, e.g. can’t log into your donor database outside of normal working hours.
  • Your time-off policies and other policies may change.

Assume leadership for your time

A recent study from the Center for Creative Leadership found that employees with smartphones end up working about 13.5 hours every day and as many as 72 hours each week, including weekends. It also revealed that, “Aside from sleeping, people only spend about three hours a day doing other activities like exercising or spending time with their families.” You can read more about this through the Society for Human Resource Management’s recent article.

“While technology may be a logical scapegoat, it is actually just a new-age mask for an age-old problem: poor management and poor leadership,” the same report stated. While they’re referring to organizational management and leadership, I want you to consider how you’ve poorly managed yourself and how you may need to exhibit more personal leadership in order to be more productive, take on less work, and have a meaningful work-life balance — and get your work hours back in check.

As your organization is addressing these changes, this is your opportunity to review how you work, too. Find ways to become more productive, and you’ll get back many hours in your day. Pinky swear.

  • Do you begin and end your day with clear priorities? Or is your inbox and messaging systems dictating what work you do?
  • Do you budget time for each project and manage others’ expectations for deadlines?
  • When working on a project or task, do you really focus in on it or do you check social media, shuffle papers, and answer the phone?
  • What are the ways you use technology to leverage your productivity while at work?
  • Are you spending more than 3 hours a day with those you love doing activities you love? How can you increase that?

If you’ll soon be moving from salary to hourly, or vice versa (new rules apply Dec. 1, 2016), use this as a time to re-establish your work and home boundaries and make your workload manageable again. Talk with your manager and HR Director to let them know what needs to change for you. Just this morning I had a conversation with an HR Manager who repeated what so many other managers have told me: We want people to come to use and tell us when they’re overworked, over stressed, on the verge of burnout. We don’t want them to just leave. We want to work with them.

By assuming leadership for your time, you can be brave enough (and articulate enough) to tell your boss that too much is too much. The saying, “Do more with less” is bullhockey. And nonprofit directors need to understand when they’ve committed their organization and people to too much work. As an employee, you can help them understand that by working a healthy amount of hours, staying focused and productive, and communicating when too much is too much.

Everyone loses when  you work too much. Your productivity goes down; your stress goes up. It’s a vicious cycle. Choose something different; choose focused leadership.

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