It’s pretty miserable to work overtime. I know this because I’ve worked plenty of overtime in my life. In fact, I worked overtime during my summer jobs throughout school and in several of my early HR jobs.
While it was okay to earn time-and-a-half for my efforts beyond my typical 40-hour workweek, I would’ve appreciated a higher base salary and more coworkers.
For me, it’s a quality of life issue.
First of all, a higher base salary would have meant that my wages were in line with the rising costs of my housing, utilities, and student loan debt. I wouldn’t have been so desperate to work overtime if my employers paid me what I deserved instead of nickel-and-diming me to death.
Second, more coworkers would have meant that more people were employed and available to cover shifts. That’s good for the economy, although expensive for business owners when you’re in a recession. I would have welcomed more colleagues during peak HR events such as open enrollment or the time of year when we’re crunching numbers to calculate executive bonuses.
(Oh, the irony of working overtime and earning $22.50/hour to calculate, gain approval for, and distribute seven-figure bonus checks for dudes who never knew what it was like to earn an hourly wage!)
I understand that overtime is the lifeblood of working class Americans, including hourly HR professionals. But I don’t like overtime pay on principle. I believe that OT represents a failed state of broken incentive systems, poor planning, and weak talent pipelines.
And municipalities and industries that rely on overtime to address talent shortages are poorly served by short-sided leaders and HR professionals who aren’t thinking strategically.
So I’m not a fan of overtime pay, but there’s a caveat: if you’re going to allow some workers to get overtime and prevent others, you should at least make sure the system is fair and equitable.
While some HR nerds don’t like the overtime rules that were implemented by the Obama administration (and now blocked) because it’s an expensive solution to a complex problem, I’m yet to hear a better idea. Few alternative solutions provide a reasonable pathway forward. And someone needs to watch out for employees who are locked into a job where they work 60 hours each week as “managers” or “supervisors” and have no power or authority but are paid a salary.
I can see why some business owners find the new rules daunting. However, if you’re going to run a business and be tight with your workforce, you shouldn’t run a business. Run a robot factory where you never have to look an employee in the face, instead.
But if you employ people, pay them properly. Guard their schedules, and don’t make anybody work overtime unless it’s required.
And, for those of you who work in HR, stop being a sycophant with no dignity who wants to impress her boss at the expense of the workforce. Just because your CEO has tight pockets doesn’t mean that you can’t work on behalf of America to pay people what they’ve rightfully earned.
It’s HR professionals like you — the ones who spit out lines from Fox News and argue the wrong points about overtime pay — who give the rest of us in HR a bad name.