Working off the clock -The Imperfect Org

I recently stumbled across this article called “Why You Shouldn’t Work off the Clock” and my first impression was “who the heck does that nowadays?” and then my second thought was “Hey I use to be that person!” In the sense of Organization Development (OD) someone who works off the clock is a nightmare. Usually, the employee has the best intentions in mind however as the article states it throws off the implementation of a new program, process, or procedure to the point the project manager may need to scrap the entire thing and go back to square one.

The reason for the article was due to the new regulation coming “December 1,” 2016 stating that organizations who have employees who earn less than “$47,476 per year” and work over 40 hours a week will need to pay them overtime; time and a half(Green, 2016).
This no doubt will present a new challenge for organizations and OD professionals to overcome when constructing the basis of their projects. However, that is another blog to write for the future.
The article has three points, regarding those employees industrious enough to work off the clock and really good points related to what encompasses the field of OD.
The first point was that “it is illegal” for employees to work off the clock. Many managers will not mention this point especially if they are behind in regards to production or a major deadline, (as they are more than happy to receive all the help they can).
These managers would rather you finish than bring up this point. However for the sake of insurance purposes, if anything happens to that employee while completing tasks outside of their scheduled work hours, there can be a legal problem that the organization may not want to deal with.
Keeping managers aware of such rules and regulations is imperative to the organization running as smoothly as possible and without any distractions (or legal issues) that may occur as a result of skipping a few “things” (i.e.: rules).
The second point is that working off the clock can be that unannounced outlier that will throw off a project’s metrics, thereby rendering the majority of the data useless. As the article states it will give your manager or anyone else who is trying to determine how productive you are, a false “reading” and as a result, you might walk in the next day with a ton of work and unacceptable deadlines that you will never reach.
What generally happens to people who cannot meet the deadlines set by their managers? They are usually fired. Unfortunately, the manager will not be at fault here, it would actually be the employee for not speaking up or working their actual scheduled hours to give the project manager the factual data needed to accurately assess and assign one’s workflow. As the article states you are deterring the organization from hiring someone new (if this is a more viable solution), thereby giving yourself more stress and cheating someone else out of a job (Green, 2016).
Greens’ (2016) third point, being “bad for your co-workers” is a sensible tie in with the second point from an OD standpoint working off the clock not only ruins the metrics but ruins the morale of the team working on a specific project. If one person is doing more in an undisclosed time, then the expectation is that everyone should be able to compete with those stats.
No matter if the undisclosed number of hours for one employee is 10 hours for example and everyone else on the team is working just their scheduled 8, the same amount of work completed is expected. It can become the “team vs one”, and from an OD perspective that is a hard thing to overcome.
The fourth point, getting paid!!! Yes, why are you working off the clock? You should be getting paid for what you do and in fact, from an Organizational Development standpoint trying to compensate employees as best as we can and putting up the good fight to get workers, their due is what OD is all about. As the article states, in the past, unions have gotten through very bloody (literally) battles to gain workplace protections such as a 40-hour work week, and to get paid a decent wage. By working off the clock you are demeaning their sacrifices, your true worth to the organization, and the worth of your coworkers as well.
As I stated before I was one of these people. When I worked at a printing shop (long ago), I would work off the clock for a manger who was also a friend of mine. I did not mind helping her out as she was a nice person and in her 50’s. Meaning I had a soft spot to help this manager lift huge 30lb boxes of paper around to copier to copier to complete the various jobs we had during the day. I usually made up the difference in profit sharing, so at that time it did not bother me.
With profit sharing we as employees received a percentage of the pie after the company took out its piece of the profits; so there was an incentive to do well and work hard. However, when you figure that there was only about three or four of us (out of 15 employees) that were doing this we were being cheated out of our money. Because none of the other employees worked OVER their scheduled time, it meant that their pay on average with profit sharing included, (divided by the hours they worked) was 1.5 times more when compared to mine!
Trust me, this is that time in my life professional life that I stopped working off the clock, in fact, the other employees were then at the point that they EXPECTED me to work extra hours, not only work the extra hours but work off the clock to help get their work done! When I decided not to, I became the bad guy, and my fellow coworkers wondered “why not?” (Yes they were that cocky about it). It just created a fractured team that no one in the field in OD would want to deal with, or try to repair.
The article touches upon this as well in a different light but the main thing here is getting paid for the work you do. Organization Development is a field that tries to help compensate the employee in many ways for the work that they do, in fact, it is probably thanks to workers (the past me) who worked off the clock that helps create this field.
There will always be someone who does not think they are getting paid the right amount for the job they do, for their loyalty to the organization when they are scheduled to work. By working off the clock, you increase the probability to include yourself in that number and the only one at fault will be you.
Green, A. (2016, July 11). “Why You Shouldn’t Work off the Clock”. US Today Inc. Retrieved from

Author: theimperfectorg

“Joi Su”, has been diligently working to help bridge the gap between what people expect in any organization and what they receive. Joi Su has earned a Master’s degree in Organization Development and a Bachelors in Psychology with an emphasis on Applied Behavioral Analysis.

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