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Toll Free: 877.880.

Phone: 281.880.6525

Are You Burning Out Your

Salaried Employees?

Is the concept of a 40-hour workweek too

radical for your company? In one survey the
2015 Workplace Flexibility Study 65% of
participants said they believe their employers
expect them to stay connected to the office,
long after they leave for the day. Naturally,
workers who are paid an hourly rate often
welcome extra hours for extra pay, but at some
point, many salaried workers feel exploited.

In some industries, 40-hour workweeks are now so unheard of that, when it

happens, it's newsworthy. Take for example, the financial services company
that was profiled in a business publication because, at the end of an eighthour workday, they send their people home.

Of course, companies and industries differ in their needs. Academic research

shows that beyond a certain point, additional hours cease to add incremental
productivity. Depending on the work and other factors, that point may be 40
hours for some companies, and higher for others. Stanford University labor
economist John Pencavel has explored this topic extensively.
In a study entitled "The Productivity of Working Hours," Pencavel analyzed
findings from earlier research on the subject and concluded that in general,
productivity per hour worked begins to fall off at 50 hours. So, for example, if
hours are cut from 55 to 50, employers may see little change in overall
production, but five additional non-working hours could make a big difference
to an overworked employee.

Not all workplaces and working conditions are equal. In fact, Pencavel's
analysis looked at studies of manual laborers in a munitions plant in wartime
The physical demands of that job, and the potentially devastating
consequences of an accident caused by a fatigued worker probably don't
match the work environment at your company. But even in a service business
environment, if long hours don't enhance productivity something needs to
Here are some specific drawbacks of letting employees work too long, and
how your company, as well as your dedicated employees, may benefit by
telling workers to unplug from the job.

Wheels Spinning
People vary, but when they work too long, many simply get tired, have
difficulty concentrating, and either spin their wheels trying to be productive,
or just give up. It's not unusual for an employee who feels he or she has to
appear busy to do non-work activities, such as browsing Facebook, or coming
up with make-work tasks that aren't helpful. Not only do tired employees not
add to productivity, but fatigue may result in more errors and accidents.
While neither of these issues is new or surprising, Pencavel observed that
employers often disregard the negative impact on employee morale and on
the bottom line. It might be better, he said to consider cutting back overtime
hours and to view those limits "not as damaging restraints on management,
but as an enlightened form of improving workplace efficiency and welfare."

Divided Loyalty
There are certain jobs which, by their nature, make it critical for some
employees to be reachable most of the time. Usually those jobs involve
special knowledge or expertise that is essential to keep other employees and
equipment from being idled.

Apart from those exceptions, setting an across-the-board policy for employee

hours may be a tough task. What feels right to one employee may feel
restrictive to the next one and result in divided loyalty. Those who feel you
expect them to work too many hours may already have one foot out the door,
looking for an opportunity that encroaches less on their personal lives.

Then again, employees who thrive on long hours may still be revved up to
work after eight hours. Rather than having such an employee take that energy
to moonlight at a second job you may need to make exceptions.

If you decide to limit work hours for most or all of your staff, you may find an
unexpected bonus. Once word gets around that you send workers home and
don't expect them to stay connected at the end of eight hours, you may find
recruiting new blood is far easier.
One administrative services company in Pennsylvania highlights its strict 40hours-a-week policy, which may explain why they were recently swamped
with 663 applicants for three openings.
Not only were there plenty of quality candidates, but many of those job
seekers placed a higher value on limited hours than on the related pay.

What Should Your Company Do Now?

Sorting this all out may require that you take a fresh look at the mood climate
among your salaried staff. Here are some questions you might want to ask to
determine what specific changes would be helpful.

How many hours are salaried employees currently working?

Do salaried employees (or particular worker categories or departments)

feel overworked?

Whether real or perceived, do employees feel pressured to work more

than 40 hours a week?

Among employees who often work more than 40 hours per week, can you
quantify how many additional hours they are working on the average

Asking the questions and getting reliable answers can be tricky. Employees will
want assurance that they can answer honestly and still remain anonymous.
You may need to enlist the help of survey professionals to craft a
questionnaire that gives you useful information before you embark on a
meaningful policy change.

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