Obsessed with OT: Americans Would Work Off-the-Clock Even if Bosses Ban the Practice, According to FLSA Overtime Survey Conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos

CHELMSFORD, Mass.--()--The practice of working outside standard work hours is so ingrained in American culture that a majority of full-time salaried employees in the U.S. would work off-the-clock even if it was against company policy. The finding comes from a new survey commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, conducted online by Harris Poll in May 2016, following the Obama Administration’s recent update to the overtime rule under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Starting Dec. 1, the updated rule requires that organizations pay overtime to full-time salaried workers who make less than $47,476 per year for working more than 40 hours per week.

The “Obsessed with Overtime: Prepping for FLSA’s New OT Rule” survey is the first in a two-part series exploring possible unintended consequences of the regulation. It was conducted from May 25-27, 2016 among 845 full- and part-time employed U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, to explore America’s obsession with after-hours work; if white collar organizations are prepared to track time and attendance; and the impact that the new regulations may have on workplace flexibility and employee engagement.

Survey News Facts

  • Work is life: America’s obsession with working. As the line between work and life continues to blur, a staggering 81 percent of U.S. salaried employees report that they conduct work outside of their standard work hours and it happens far more often than once a week.
    • Over a quarter (29 percent) admit they conduct work outside of standard work hours three or more days per week, while 16 percent confess to being workaholics who put in extra hours five to seven days per week.
    • The updated FLSA rule might not do much to end this after-hours practice: 63 percent of full-time salaried employees admit that they would work “off-the-clock” even if it were against company policy.
    • Only one in four U.S. salaried employees (25 percent) say they conduct work outside of standard work hours less than once per week, while a mere 19 percent say they never do.
  • What’s so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow? The primary cause for working beyond standard work hours, according to salaried employees who admit to working outside of standard work hours, is that they simply have too much on their plates. However, that’s not the only reason:
    • For 40 percent of salaried employees who claim to work beyond normal work hours, a heavier-than-usual workload was cited, while 37 percent needed to meet an urgent deadline.
    • Nearly one-third (31 percent) feel they have too much work on an ongoing basis to complete it all during their work day.
    • However, 27 percent state they work outside of work hours because their employers offer that flexibility.
    • Additionally, 17 percent reported that they prefer to work outside of normal work hours to get things done, and 15 percent stated they preferred to work after hours to prepare and stay organized.
  • Keeping track of the time: Are employers ready? Under the updated FLSA rule, any full-time salaried worker making less than $47,476 will become eligible for overtime pay for working over 40 hours per week. Tracking employee time will present profound engagement, operations, and, ultimately, compliance challenges for ill-prepared organizations, of which there are many:
    • The “Obsessed with Overtime” survey found that 39 percent, or almost two out of every five salaried employees, are not required to track and report their time today.
    • Among salaried employees, the most common time-tracking method is computer software (39 percent), while nine percent still fill out paper time sheets. Only four percent use a mobile application to track their hours. Nine percent report using another method.
    • Of those employed by organizations that do not require the tracking and reporting of hours worked, 77 percent stated they have conducted work outside of work hours.
  • Always connected, always working. The ubiquity of mobile phones is the primary reason salaried employees simply can’t unplug, and the adoption of text messaging for business has become commonplace.
    • More than half of all employees (55 percent) who conduct work outside of standard work hours blamed checking and / or sending work email.
    • While phone calls may be falling out of favor as a form of communication, 24 percent reported speaking on the phone with colleagues, clients, or customers outside standard work hours.
    • Text messaging is joining the ranks as a tool to do business, with 23 percent of salaried employees admitting they send after-hours work texts to colleagues, clients, or customers.
    • One reason for this may be that 18 percent of full/part-time employees reported that they don’t consider it “work.” That’s slightly ahead of work email (17 percent), and well ahead of a telephone call (10 percent).
  • Is a 40-hour work week even possible? Yes, with a little help. Surprisingly, seven in 10 full-time salaried employees (70 percent) think they could get the job done in 40 hours per week – if their employer helped out.
  • When asked what change they would propose to their employer to be more productive and complete job duties in under 40 hours per week, 30 percent suggested a flexible start and end time to the work day, such as choosing between 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
  • Fewer meetings (27 percent) and shorter meetings (18 percent) were popular suggestions by full-time salaried employees to get the job done without working after hours.
  • Streamlining workflows and processes (25 percent), hiring another team member (24 percent), and redistributing job duties (22 percent) were three of the more popular suggested changes.
  • Although FLSA regulations could result in more oversight and tighter scheduling by managers, one in five full-time salaried employees said more autonomy would actually help them get more done in 40 hours.

Supporting Quotes

  • Joyce Maroney, director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos
    “Updating the FLSA’s so-called white collar overtime provision represents the most significant change to workplace wage and hour regulation in more than a generation. The fact that 63 percent of salaried workers who participated in our survey admitted that they would still work after hours even if it were against company policy goes to show how ingrained this practice is in today’s professional culture. Organizations who wish to be compliant come December 1 must be proactive in developing policies and procedures that leverage modern technology to ensure people are paid fairly for their hours worked and provide a defensible audit trail for both the employee and employer in the event of a complaint. FLSA is poised to fundamentally change how – and when – salaried employees can get their work done. Managers should be open and transparent about what is changing, why it is changing, and what it means for all employees to ensure confusion does not undermine engagement.”

Supporting Resources

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of Kronos Incorporated from May 25-27, 2016 among 2,023 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, of whom 845 are full- and part-time employed U.S. adults, including 354 who identified as being a salaried employee. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact daniel.gouthro@kronos.com.

About The Workforce Institute at Kronos

The Workforce Institute provides research and education on critical workplace issues facing organizations around the globe. By bringing together thought leaders, The Workforce Institute is uniquely positioned to empower organizations with the knowledge and information they need to manage their workforce effectively and provide a voice for employees on important workplace issues. A hallmark of The Workforce Institute’s research is balancing the needs and desires of diverse employee populations with the needs of organizations. For additional information, visit www.workforceinstitute.org.

About Kronos Incorporated

Kronos is the global leader in delivering workforce management solutions in the cloud. Tens of thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries — including more than half of the Fortune 1000® — use Kronos to control labor costs, minimize compliance risk, and improve workforce productivity. Learn more about Kronos industry-specific time and attendance, scheduling, absence management, HR and payroll, hiring, and labor analytics applications at www.kronos.com. Kronos: Workforce Innovation That Works.

About The Harris Poll

Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Contact us for more information.

© 2016 Kronos Incorporated (no claim made as to The Harris Poll survey). All rights reserved. Kronos and the Kronos logo are registered trademarks and Workforce Innovation That Works is a trademark of Kronos Incorporated or a related company. See a complete list of Kronos trademarks. All other trademarks, if any, are property of their respective owners.


Kronos Incorporated
Dan Gouthro, +1 978-947-7310

Release Summary

In a new survey from The Workforce Institute at Kronos about the FLSA update, 63 percent of full-time salaried employees admit they would work “off-the-clock” even if it were against company policy.


Kronos Incorporated
Dan Gouthro, +1 978-947-7310