Are Americans Overworked & Underpaid?

How Changing Times & Technologies Are Affecting How Employees Work & How Employers Pay

It’s a frequent topic on the nightly news: Americans are working harder while they watch their paychecks get smaller. Companies are cutting hours and getting rid of monetary incentives for high performance. Sectors are being outsourced to countries with cheaper labor standards—but for Americans who are able to hold on to their current positions, it doesn’t look like things will be improving anytime soon.

A Brief Look at Better Paying Times

Before the invention of remote server access and mobile devices, employers were often required to pay their employees overtime when they had to stay late to complete a task. Managers and supervisors were put on salary to avoid having to pay employees overtime, but the salaried employees are paid at a much higher rate to make up for the extra hours they would have to (or potentially have to) put in.

The invention of remote access and mobile devices has changed the way people work. Fewer companies are offering salaried positions because they don’t know how long they can keep employees before the next wave of cutbacks. In addition to cutting salaries, organizations are also being forced to cut hours for all of their employees. The only way that they are now able to maintain their customer service or efficiency is to bite the bullet and keep their staff, or have employees work off the clock.

This mentality has led to a wave of lawsuits against companies in the last few years, as Human Resources law struggles to keep up with the changing times.

How Technology is Affecting the Way Americans Work

The rise of the mobile device is the most widespread issue facing American workers. Cell phones and tablets are wonderful for social media, keeping up with friends, and sharing photos, but they also make employees more readily accessible to their employers outside of business hours. This is particularly an issue for supervisors who receive calls, emails, and text messages from employees needing assistance when they are out of the office. Ignoring the message could mean a problem to clean up when the supervisor returns to work, but answering it means working off the clock.

For many people, periodic check-ins may not seem like a big deal. However, employees in sectors such as IT, medical, and law enforcement are being contacted several times an hour, and even all through the night. This can easily add up to several extra hours of unpaid work each week.

The Business World is Changing

Today’s businesses are seeking better solutions when it comes to employee time management. Many companies are cracking down on clocking in a few minutes early or leaving a few minutes late. Others are choosing to cut the salaries of more senior employees or eliminate salaried positions altogether. The truth is, until employers and employees can come to terms on how to best deal with mobile devices in the workplace, Americans will continue to be overworked and underpaid.

Robert Gray is the President of Insightlink Communications, providing the most effective employee survey tools to organizations of all sizes and types. Since 2001 he has been committed to employee retention strategies, exit strategies and more.

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