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Work-Life Balance and Pay
41

Work-Life Balance and Pay

Work-Life Balance and Pay

(OP)
Hello
I've become a salary (field) employee now. Finding myself doing a lot of overtime that I'm not getting paid for. How do I address this with management? Find myself taking work home and working for additional 2-3 hours because EVERYTHING is "urgent" and "asap". I'm not getting compensated for the additional time, even though I'm billing the client for the time. What do I do?

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Start talking to them.

Note down everything you're being asked to do and by whom and ask them to help you prioritise or provide support. Then you might get some level of support or back up to deal with the flack from those whose requests you're not doing. Are the others at your level doing the same thing or are you being stress tested as a new employee?

Is this an ongoing issue or some sort of temporary blip? Some companies just have this culture which is to exploit their workers to the maximum until they break or leave. If your manager is of that ilk then start thinking about other options

Go with possible solutions. So something like, If these items could be dealt with by xxx, then I think I would have enough time to do all these other things.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Is this a situation where you have multiple bosses and each treats you like you only have to do their work? You probably have to bring that up every time you get a new assignment. Once you accept to do an assignment by a certain time, it is hard to back-paddle.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Agreed. it would be nice to flesh this out a bit so we can understand where the work is coming from and why you don't feel empowered to say no.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Learn the difference between urgent and "urgent".

My wife once worked in an understaffed daycare. One of their mantras was "If they're crying, they're breathing."

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I worked for a consulting firm once that required salaried employees to work at least 10 hours of billable overtime per week with no additional compensation. Even if you could get your work done in the standard 40 hours, you still had to work the overtime so that the company could bill the clients. It really played hell with projects that were short on budget and you were waiting for others to get information to you.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Do you have any underlings in this new position? If so, share the pain!

Good Luck,
Latexman

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

When you are given a new task tell your boss that you are currently full time working on tasks A, B, and C. Which task would they like to delay so that the new task gets done this week (or whatever time period they want it done in).

If the other tasks were assigned by other managers tell them that they need to make a decision together and let you know what they decide.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

8
Volunteering is a valuable service to society.

Please limit your volunteerism to not-for-profit causes, though.

We're not talking about occasionally needing to put in a little extra time to help out on a rush job for a good customer, to cover a screw-up you made, to learn something new etc.- we're talking about consistently being asked to work more than the number of hours you're contracted for.

Working that extra time is just fine IF you are offered compensation. It can be time in lieu that you can actually take, pay at regular or overtime pay, a bonus, shares, options, or whatever. That's between you and your employer to sort out. But if the only compensation offered is a) keeping your job or b) hope that you're buying brownie points with your boss, just don't do it. Somebody- other than you- is profiting from your effort, or else you're putting "sweat equity" into something you will not benefit from if it is later sold.

Most self-respecting tradespeople and even labourers have this figured out, but we engineers are sometimes slow on the uptake. Some have had it pounded into them that consistently working uncompensated overtime is the mark of a "professional". They have it the wrong way around- THEY are the MARK, i.e. the sucker- and professionals are people who provide services for hire, rather than being amateurs who work for the love of it.

Offering your services to the market for free, de-values your services and those of everyone else in your profession. Just stop doing it.

(www.spitfireresearch.com)

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I would say: "welcome to the world of the salaried".
I'm also surprised at the answers other engineers have given. Maybe it's just something expected of electrical engineers working industry-exempt(non PE) positions designing products. 42 years and 10 companies there has never been compensation for overtime. Privately owned to Fortune 500 to FTSE 100 in size. Maybe just a promise of 'comp time', but that was taken away at the end of the year along with unused vacation.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

2
I agree with Moltenmetal.

Unpaid and uncompensated overtime is sadly endemic in many industries, but it is corrosive to the individual and in many cases is a false long term benefit to the company as they end up with overworked, tired, burnt out people who end up taking sick leave or leaving. It's just a pity that so few people actually realise that, both workers and managers.

When working in a salaried position, my view was always that you could do that (extra time), but only for limited periods or specific events / deadlines, surges in work. More than 6-8 weeks then it just becomes what you're then expected to do and not doing it becomes an issue instead of people realising you're doing more than you should.

I was always in the position of at least getting paid (at standard rate mind you) and also worked out that any carrot being waved in terms of "enhanced bonus" was easy to say and normally impossible to deliver.... I always booked and got paid the hours I got worked as this was indisputable.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

3
I'll pass along some advice I received early in my career: "The company will take as much as you give. You have to be the one to draw the line." As far as implementing that, I use hendersdc's approach of kicking back the prioritization to my manager (although if the priorities are clear I just point out that me changing projects will delay the previous top priority). It becomes easier to do if you operate under the assumption that your working time is a fixed resource and you can't transform leisure or sleep time into working time.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

(OP)
These are all great advices. Thanks.

One employee who recently became a project manager seems to be the problem. The other principals and other project manager are not. The one project manager wants everything urgently and the day of. So if I'm in the field, I'm expected to go home, put in extra hours, to get those additional things done immediately,because everything is "urgent". I think he's just a PM who wants every task completed urgently. Outside of the office, he's a good guy, no issues. While in the office, he reminds of of Louis Litt from "Suits" but not as dramatic. He speaks down to people below him, comes off condescending, and makes you feel stupid if you ask a question. I don't want to go over his head and talk to the principals about it. I'll just have to figure out how to talk to the principals about it without trying to put any blame or issues directed at him.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Sit down with him some time (when you don't have 'urgent' tasks due) and explain what his lack of planning is doing to you. If he's a new PM, he's probably nervous about meeting new expectations so he's passing it down the chain. In the military where officer turnover is almost constant, that's standard operating procedure. An important lesson I picked up there is that you have to learn to lead from the middle - or even the bottom. Sometimes it's just that they're a jerk and there's nothing you can do, but most of the time they want to do their best and just don't know what decisions to make or don't realize the collateral damage of those decisions. Figure out what they'll respond to - blunt honesty or subtle ego stroking - and guide them to a place where everyone is getting the job done and is happy.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Well if all the PMs are equal, one way is to say to this PM, Well XXX also want me to complete whatever it is as an "urgent" task" (He won't know if it is or not) so can you please talk to him and agree which one is more urgent than the other.

Or start sending messages to the other PMs to say, I know I said I would do xxx by yyy, however mr up his own arse PM has requested I do this in front of your tasks. Can you please discuss this with him and let me know which is to take priority??

When you start sending those every day the other PMs will start to be on your side instead of throwing rocks at you. Get some allies.

Also I am alarmed a bit by this "I'm expected to go home, put in extra hours, to get those additional things done immediately, because everything is "urgent" No, No and No again. You are doing it to yourself. Use the tactics above and of they don't work go see the princples and explain your predicament.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Concur with LittleInch.
You do not need to cover for this PM’s obvious p*** poor planning.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

You're a salaried professional. Don't whine about overtime. It's part of it. If you want an hourly paid job, go somewhere else.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

10

Quote (Ron)

You're a salaried professional. Don't whine about overtime. It's part of it. If you want an hourly paid job, go somewhere else.
And you're the problem, Ron... "salaried" does not mean "indentured servant". There must be a reasonable definition of what is expected. If you can't (normally) get a job done within a typical 40 hour work week, then either you're too slow or there's too much work. When it becomes standard practice for everyone to be pushed for more than 40 hours/week, then it should be obvious the problem is with the expectation of work, not with the worker.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Salaried or not, it's all hourly paid.

For a salary you accept to work a set number of hours / day & days a year. That's one of the purposes of a contract.

Now that contract might say some thing like You are expected to work more than this if required to complete something.

Most people on a salary take the rough with the smooth - I did. So yes when the heat was on, you worked more hours than your contractual position - the rough.

but then with the tacit approval of those in charge you came in late a few days, went home early if needed, but you weren't docked any pay - the smooth.

The issue here is that it is all "rough" by the sound of it and that's not the bargain most people sign up to when they become annually paid staff.

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

3
I think it's important to note that we're not all coming from the same place here.

For some of us it's a generational thing. There is a long standing "tradition" of salaried employees working 7-10 because it's what you do. Younger generations aren't as willing to accept that - and that's okay. It's their prerogative so long as they can take the possible consequences (they can no more dictate terms to the employer than the employer can dictate terms to the employee - the balance of power in the relationship shifts with the prevailing market conditions).

There's also some difference in industries and countries/regions and the labor laws and practices in each. LittleInch - you're talking about a contract. I've been a salaried employee since I graduated college and never once have I had a contract. I've been an at-will employee in a position exempt from many of the labor laws that dictate working hours, overtime compensation, etc. Expectations were laid out in the employee manual, but those were subject to change. So if you have a contract to fall back on, great. But most consulting engineers - at least in the US - do not.

If it's a case of cyclical work load, hang in there - most engineer firms are very cash flow sensitive, so if you turn away a bunch of work when it's busy so your employees can come in at 9 and be home by 5 every night, they'll have to lay a bunch of people off every time it slows down or cut pay for everyone.

Bottom line - clarify the expectations. Make sure your employer understands your expectations in the relationship, and make sure you understand your employer's expectations. If they don't match, change your mind, convince your employer to change his mind, or change employers.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I signed a contract with my employer. In it I agreed to donate a certain number of hours per week, from my unknown but limited remaining time on earth, working on stuff they want me to do, in return for a certain amount of money, from their limited, but easily calculable pile of gold coins. That is in black and white. Now, I am quite happy to work a lot of extra hours for months at a time to get around a manpower planning issue that they have caused, but I expect to reclaim that time.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Consider moving to Canada / Australia / New Zealand. In the later two the minimum is 4 weeks annual leave and outside of mining and major projects kiwi's and aussie engineers seem to perpetually be able to disappear to go surfing or rock climbing or whatever at 3pm on friday

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

3
My mind was blown moving to NZ from north america. They enjoy life-work balance. Not work-life, in NZ life comes before work well and truly. Not at every office of course, but this in general rings true.

If employers in north america treated their staff the way the average run of the mill NZ company treats their staff, they would experience no turnover.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Yeah mate, I live in New Zealand now and it's been such a nice change. 4 weeks holidays, usually easy to buy additional annual leave, good sick leave policies (and no questioning it unless you're really taking the piss).

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

LPS for phamENG for a good explanation of the US' standard. IME most white-collar management stateside are the aforementioned salaried-exempt (from OT pay), at-will employees. The reason for that is simple - we do NOT want our pay limited by arbitrary measures. Top paying employers all require proof of your work ethic so graduating early, working long/difficult hours, willingness to travel, etc are all big levers to pull in salary negotiation. 40/week and/or paid OT both come with mediocre pay, so hopefully the rest of the employment package is worthwhile to those considering that. Also, an interesting irony worth noting is that the folks decrying "unpaid" OT usually also decry executives for their high incomes and blame their own lack of success on others.

Call me odd, but I dont understand the obsession with 40/week. I spend an hour in the gym/pool/running daily, cook and/or enjoy two formal meals with family, spend 4-5 hours nightly in my shop, and can still work 10/day without feeling busy. How much free time does one need? Usually when I hear gripes about being overworked, its from folks who are pretty lethargic and dont have much for hobbies beyond television.

FYI for folks overseas, four weeks paid vacation is pretty standard stateside for engineers who have been in industry more than a minute, and 6-8 arent uncommon. If someone wants additional time off then a simple request for unpaid leave is usually quick and easy. Sick days and appointments are usually just a quick call or email to the boss, nothing formally documented. If I am in the state, I usually attend my wife's appointments. I haven't lived in Oz, but after living on four continents I honestly find both the pay and benefits stateside far better than anything overseas.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Well said phamENGr!

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

CWB1, this sounds like classic American-style thinking where you all think you're a decade of 60 hour weeks away from a job in the C-suite.

Most engineers aren't going to make it past middle management type roles, assuming they make it that far, and the ones that make it past that aren't going to have their ability to negotiate salary limited by normal engineers not being salaried-exempt / only working 40 hr weeks.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I read this and this sketch came to mind from you guys...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYtYBI6eZ3E If you don't want the subtitles it's called the "Four Yorkshiremen sketch" search it on YT.

To be fair phameng does say that the younger generation (I'm pushing 60) are not as prepared to accept things the way it was 20,30 or 40 years ago. And I for one don't blame them. There are now many opportunities for people in various IT and online roles where this sort of thing is not so common.

The requirement for a written contract of employment is so long written into legislation in the UK and other European and non US countries that I was surprised by this "at will" expression and for the way you seem to think it's a good thing? I really don't see how having a contract would limit any of the things you suggest. You can still try and "catch the eye" of the overpaid execs by doing unpaid O/T, be willing to sacrifice evenings and weekends, travel and move all over the place. It just allows you some level of comfort that they can't automatically EXPECT you to do that. The only people, IMHO, who are seeing their pay reduced due to these practices are those that don't work them and somehow have ended up the "C" suite.

We've gone off track a bit here, but maybe a bit of a response from the OP?

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Landen,

You seem to like one line answers - are you sure you haven't actually turned into a computer?

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I could swear I've seen a near-identical post somewhere before. Old algorithm?

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

HAL 9000....

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote:

CWB1, this sounds like classic American-style thinking where you all think you're a decade of 60 hour weeks away from a job in the C-suite.

Quite the opposite actually, despite the fact that I keep being pushed into management I prefer the technical track and could care less about future promotion. My employers also have had 8k-150k employees so making the executive level would be a rather unrealistic goal.

IME high performing/paying teams/depts/employers dont tolerate the 9-5 40/week crowd, they'll move or let those folks go quickly. Even in the "standardized" mega-corp world salaries and bonuses vary a LOT by role. Folks working or traveling longer usually have higher base salaries plus incentives and bonuses not available to others with the same title/grade just the same as ex-pats doing an overseas tour. I have been hired at 120% of the "max" corporate base for my grade several times and received role specific incentives and bonuses that added significantly on top of that. JMO but if you're in a demanding role its not difficult to negotiate a straight salaried-exempt package that surpasses any 40/week + OT rate because management usually wants to keep top performers and realizes you will get hit with a truly lousy project/situation/hours eventually.

Opinions of at-will employment like anything else will depend on your perspective. My skill set is in demand and I am not tied to the major metro I live in, so I dont need govt or even HR to protect my position thus I'd rather management have the power to quickly/easily cut the fat/problems/etc when needed to keep us surrounded by high-performing people and an awesome culture. I have seen more than one company ruined by complacency and being "too nice" to the old dead-wood.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Again, if you work overtime with COMPENSATION, you're good. The compensation just can't be non-contractual promises of future consideration for promotion or salary increases. If you accept such worthless compensation, you're a sucker.

Compensation for extra time and effort can be any of the things I mentioned and it's 100% legit.

For the past 27 yrs I haven't worked 1 hour of uncompensated OT. I've done just fine, thanks. Never been without work. And I've worked LOTS of O/T- and received LOTS of very real compensation for that time. Not 1:1: not a fixed $/hr, and no promises. And yes, there were some dry years when the extra compensation was pretty low- but subsequent years more than made up for it.

As Scott Adams of Dilbert fame put it, every sacrifice of any kind you make on behalf of your employer will be accepted. Not compensated for, acknowledged or even noticed, but it will most certainly be accepted!

(www.spitfireresearch.com)

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

@Jacob Henry: the expectation to consistently work uncompensated overtime is NOT "part of the job". It is exploitation and professionals shouldn't tolerate it.

(www.spitfireresearch.com)

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Being salaried means defining and enforcing boundaries. That is also "part of the job".

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

By definition a salary is a fixed price contract whereas hourly wage earners are on T&M. Consequently, many employers will expect you to work the hours necessary to complete your projects on time. Fail to complete them on time and management should be looking to replace you. Fail to complete them on time due to lack of effort and management should be firing you for-cause due to unprofessional behavior. Legal exceptions aside, there's no such thing as OT much less uncompensated OT in this scheme. Going down the rabbit hole a bit, I have been told by employers that their "normal" business hours were anywhere from 35-50/week but as a salaried engineer I've never been held to them so tying OT to anything beyond 40 seems muddy at best.

When someone is interviewing and considering offers they should be asking the appropriate questions needed to intelligently evaluate total compensation against total expectations. Given X you'll do Y, for each of us that varies. I know folks who refuse work that isnt part time, isnt work from home, and even one engineer that refuses work if he has to wear more than jeans and a polo. To each their own, I'm sure somebody would claim I'm a sucker for being among the best-dressed daily. Promises/potential compensation pose a risk but aren't necessarily a bad thing. If an employer has consistently given big bonuses for many years then they likely will continue. Similarly, both govt and private industry have employee development programs with structured promotions. Having been an hourly tradesman for years prior to engineering, $$$/year is my bottom line critical criteria amd I could care less if that's broken down further.

Getting back to the OP, griping about not being paid OT probably won't help. They may succeed in getting a raise or additional vacation however by pointing out how hard they have worked in addition to a history of service. OTOH, if theyre new and the "OT" simply involves meeting the same standards as everybody else then management might view such requests as disrespectful or ungrateful.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I have to agree with CWB1 on this. As an at-will, salary employee, you have to do the job. If that's the job, so be it. It's up to you to make sure you have the appropriate compensation. If they won't give you what you feel that job is worth, then go elsewhere or renegotiate the scope of the job.

Now there are some firms out there that are playing with a modified salary scheme. You have a base salary and an hourly wage. The base salary is figured on the hourly wage at 40 hours/week, and you're guaranteed to get it. Work 35, get your salary. Work 45, and you get paid straight time for that 45 hours (salary + 5 hours worth). Most have other stipulations - the hours have to have been billable, all project schedules met, etc.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote (You're a salaried professional. Don't whine about overtime. It's part of it. If you want an hourly paid job, go somewhere else.)


I disagree, Ron... If I'm working, I'm getting paid for my effort.

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I think a big issue here is the word "overtime". Please note that this post is for the US, international law varies.

Overtime is a legal construct for hourly employees or for employees contracted to work a specific number of hours. As such, a salaried worker exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act rules for overtime pay (engineers meet the exempt professionals job duties test for that one) doesn't 'technically' work overtime - at least not in the legal sense of the term.

I agree 100% with everyone who is saying you shouldn't give your company "free" work or do things that are uncompensated. The problem is, the work you're doing is being compensated. It's up to you to determine the appropriate level of compensation for you based on the amount of work/time you are selling to your employer and convince your employer of the same. So if you think $60k is an appropriate salary for doing your job 40 hours per week, would you think $90k to $105k is appropriate for 55 hours per week? If so, negotiate for it. You won't get it, so you probably want to negotiate for less time.

There are workplaces like CWB1 describes where they will demand a high level of performance and time from their employees. Some of them even offer appropriate compensation. Others will provide you with an environment that is less demanding - some in terms of performance, some in terms of time, and some in terms of both. The compensation is nearly always lower there, and for good reason. The trick is to find the place and position that fits both your needs and temperament.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote (CWB1)

By definition a salary is a fixed price contract whereas hourly wage earners are on T&M. Consequently, many employers will expect you to work the hours necessary to complete your projects on time. Fail to complete them on time and management should be looking to replace you. Fail to complete them on time due to lack of effort and management should be firing you for-cause due to unprofessional behavior.
But who decides what "on time" means? What if a manager comes to you and says "I want an entirely new machine built, and I want it done by next month." Given this might normally be a project that would take a team of 50 engineers 3 years to handle, are you at fault for not being to meet your manager's expectations? Of course not, and to think otherwise is ludicrous.

So we're back to the original point... there should be a reasonable expectation of the amount of work involved for a 40-hr work week. Poor managers (company owners?) will continually push their workers with more and more work until they're forced to work late days and long weekends to achieve the end goal. This primes the pump for abuse by the manager who can then treat the engineer like an indentured servant.

If a worker is obviously/significantly lagging behind compared to others (who also work 40 hrs/week), then there is potential justification to release the engineer back into the wild (or pay him a lower salary). But if the average engineer cannot reasonably accomplish the assigned task in the allotted time frame, there is potential justification to release the manager back into the wild (or reset his expectations as to what is an acceptable work load). The total man hours for a project is the same, but we're talking about cramming more of those hours onto each engineer's plate for the same amount of payout.

This means managers will now be dealing with projects that take longer from a calendar perspective, but the man hours haven't changed. Want to improve the calendar time? Have the engineers work more than 40 hrs/wk... but compensate them for that extra time! Straight-forward economics. That's what an open market is all about. But forcing engineers to work longer and longer hours for the same pay is a downward spiral.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Dan - it is an open market. So I expect the owners to push for as much out of the employees as the employees are willing to give. The employee, in return, needs to push for as much compensation from the employer as the employer is willing to give. Each side has a line they aren't (or shouldn't) be willing to cross. The employer will only pay so much, and the employee will only do so much. They have to negotiate a balance that they can both live with. Perhaps I'm spoiled: I worked at a firm with demanding schedules and long hours, but the pay was decent and when we'd go through a bad stretch, at the end of it I'd often find an envelope on my desk with a sizeable wad of cash in it.

The idea is that the average worker won't have the wherewithal to do this as the balance of power is skewed too far in the employers direction - it's not hard to find another person to flip a burger, fold clothes in a store, add a sprocket to a widget in a line, etc. But professionals should have the ability to stand up for themselves. Now I do think that it would make sense to limit the "Professional Duties Test" to only licensed professionals and/or professionals working in a managerial capacity. If you're an EIT, your bargaining power is very limited. So the added protection could be a benefit to many. I'm not entirely sure how this would apply in license exempt industries - the definition of 'managerial' may have to be a little loose to fit properly.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

The professional associations should be enforcing a minimum standard...

Rather than think climate change and the corona virus as science, think of it as the wrath of God. Feel any better?

-Dik

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote:

But who decides what "on time" means? What if a manager comes to you and says "I want an entirely new machine built, and I want it done by next month." Given this might normally be a project that would take a team of 50 engineers 3 years to handle, are you at fault for not being to meet your manager's expectations? Of course not, and to think otherwise is ludicrous.

Under any normal lean or agile PM organization, team members doing the actual work create the timeline as part of project planning. If the team's plan doesnt meet management's request then adjustments need to be made. Ultimately the individual team members agree to their workload and are expected to fulfill their commitment. Obviously this puts the onus on them to give due diligence to spotting issues asap and reacting to keep the project on schedule. In a 40/wk + OT scheme you're going to struggle with keeping projects on time and on budget because employees will be financially motivated to ignore minor issues until they become large enough to provide OT.

You do raise a good point about "spiraling." Change in expectations over time is definitely something employees should be on the lookout for. If compensation does not keep up with it then employees need to go elsewhere.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

As employees transition from hourly to salary where we look back at the employee's past history of number of hours worked, efficiency, etc... With the transition to salary there is a bump in pay so that the employee will not lose money overall in the transition. Sure, the employee could then immediately stop working any overtime, but that is a rarity. Then in the future, the employee's performance is evaluated and their annual bonus takes into account factors such as number of hours worked, efficiency, performance, etc.... Don't expect the bonus to cover everything, unless it is an exception year, but at least it is something.

At the very leas you should compare what you may have been able to make if you were hourly vs. what you are making now, and have that conversation with your manager.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Interesting and humorous read.

The problem with "overtime" is, even it's paid, it never stops. I personally feel, its ok if I am putting those extra hours occasionally as a work deadline is approaching and there's so much to do.

This post has very serious issue and tone, lot of humor in those responses and some interesting and serious tips. But one thing I missed here. Health implications of continuous stressful OT hours. The time you want to enjoy with family/leisure time is now consumed by work which not going to end even if world is ending. The stress takes toll on your health before you notice anything abnormal. Also whenever I take a proper break from day's work, I feel refreshed/replenished to do my work next day. How am I going to feel normal, lets say not wonderful/passionate, working next day, when yesterday was hell.

Another thing, OP's situation suggest there maybe problem in time estimation of work to be done which I don't know everyone faces working in project. Some experienced estimation engineer puts some benchmark hours for project tasks based on his perspective and then for cost reduction/winning the project/for happily ever after client, those hours are cut to short making the life of working engineer "stressful". But anyway this is established procedure across companies and people/system will not amend, easily.

Just imagine-You decided to go for that Star Wars movie/Marvel Cine-verse movie with friends/watch that Netflix's interesting series/any leisure time hobby which you planned in advance and your boss/wife/parent tells you to do this work immediately today instead of doing that. How much stress you get from only notion of this thought? How one is going to do better work under stress continuously without health implications? Will that hamper the work quality as well as health of an engineer? I am guessing, oh yes. Is that then recommended? Occasionally, yes. Continuously, no.

As the stress in life due to daily routine work/office politics/government policies/relationships/family/wife/life's decisions, indecisions, choices is not sufficient, working overtime continuously will be cherry on top. Why would one want to tighten the bolt, if its already yielded?

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

(OP)
Thank you all for the reply and suggestions.

It appears it's only one PM that demands everything to be urgent. As long as I'm not working for that one PM's job, I'm not always working very late.

However, I've noticed I've been put on a lot of jobs that require overtime, forced overtime, or long commute, simply because I'm salary whereas some of the hourly employees don't get put on those jobs. So I do feel getting taken advantage of at time. Often time there's forced overtime whereas the job is scheduled and budgeted for a 3 day job but on the second day I'm asked to work 3 hours extra to finish the job up so they don't have to do a third day. The PM and company benefits from this, and the sub contractor benefits from it, however I do not, as I don't get paid overtime or I don't get to leave early the following day. No compensation in time or money. Again feels like I'm getting taken advantage of at times like this because they don't do this with hourly employees.

In 3 months I have worked 64 hours of overtime. That's at least one week salary worth of pay. If you average it out per week, it's not a lot, but it doesn't spread like that in real. Some weeks it's just 40 and then some weeks it's 55 hours. I haven't made too much of a deal out of it with management yet because we are VERY busy and get short-staffed but I do feel the projects and jobs I'm given is strategic because I'm salary and others are hourly. I've also come to found out employees in other branches get compensated for their overtime with PTO time instead of pay.

I had my review and received very positive feedback on my performance. I mentioned how they haven't made good on the promises they made when they hired me and they said they'll do better. Meeting was cut short so couldn't bring up overtime. Brought it up later in passing but was brushes off. Trying to have another meeting so I can force a discussion on it among other promises they have made because I'm getting a lot of companies reaching out to me from employment and I'm hoping I'm not passing up on something better. They gave me a bonus but it was $1k short of what I would have been paid straight pay for my overtime. And it's what others got who haven't worked overtime.

Side note. Really glad I found this forum. A lot of really helpful people on here and reading your inputs have been fantastic. Thank you all.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

If they didn't give the opportunity to talk about it during the review meeting, you know what their motivation is.

If you can't have them talk to you and commit with specific timeline to fulfill promises, you should look at other jobs. There will be nothing better coming from them, IMHO.

Obviously all our advice is based on what you stated and we don't know and feel your every day life. So don't do anything because of some random guy on the Internet smile

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I'd entertain some of those calls from other firms. Find out what they're offering. I found that to be a good motivator for my boss at my old firm. Every time I got a LinkedIn message, or an email, or a phone call from a recruiter on my office phone, I would find a way to bring it up in conversation (even if the phone call ended in me telling the recruiter off for their lack of professionalism in contacting me at my employer's office). That way my boss was always aware that I was in demand and was not beholden to him or the firm. It paid off - frequent raises, bonuses, nice projects, etc.

I eventually left because one of those calls was way too nice to pass up. So if you love where you work, reminding them of your worth to the outside world could benefit you there. If you're ambivalent toward your current employer, it could show you what else is out there.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I side with Ron on this. 64 hours across 3 months averages out to 5 hours per week extra. I've never worked a salaried position that included a lower average, but the compensation package covered that extra time. My paycheck never changed, but there were tradeoffs, and I have generally had rational employers. They worked with me when something came up at home. I've also worked 17-hour days to get the job done.

It's a give and take, but only if the boss is reasonable.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I think like I've said before, there is an element of taking the rough with the smooth. The rough bit no one likes, but is there sufficient "smooth" to compensate.

Only you can decide, but the cutting short of the review and brush off from your next attempt I think tells you where they see this issue. If you really do know the bonuses were equal and not related to additional time then that's a bit of a pisser.

I wouldn't be quite so obvious about taking calls or letting it be know you're looking elsewhere, but talking to people who ask you is never a bad thing, just don't bad mouth your current location too much - word gets around and no one wants a whining employee. You might find in reality they are all the same...

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

For the record I wasn't advocating telling your boss you're looking...I would just mention that "firm XYZ reached out to me last week, I guess they need people"..."a recruiter contacted me on LinkedIn last night"..."I keep getting annoying recruiter calls on my office line - is there a way we can get the front desk to screen those better?"...that sort of stuff. Just not-so-subtle hints that other firms want me, so you'd better keep me happy if you want me, too.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I left my first job for the exact same reason - uncompensated overtime and worked for a PM that was a "workaholic" and didn't want to go home at night because he hated his wife.

I just left work after my 8 hours, but then they gave me a cell phone. When I got reprimanded for not answering on a Saturday I quit the following week.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

If the compant isnt paying you for the hours but is billing the clients - what costs are they incurring? To me thats fraud. and why not make the working week 20 hours and have you work the rest for free.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

ukengineer58 - That's a pretty serious accusation. Fraud might be the company billing the client for hours and telling the client that you're getting overtime as a condition of the contract but not paying you, or telling them that they're saving a puppy from being killed for every 5 over time hours and not doing it. But billing a client based on hours worked in accordance with a contract and then paying the salary of an employee based on the terms of that employment agreement (whether contractual or not) is honest business and decidedly not fraud.

And what costs are they incurring? Plenty. Fuel for the truck being used. Wear and tear on the truck/equipment being used. Risk exposure for doing the work. There are numerous hard and soft costs involved in every hour worked whether direct labor costs are considered or not.

I'm not saying the OP got a good deal or that they shouldn't seek better compensation, they didn't and they should. But I am saying that accusing the company of fraud is a bit over the top. Unless, of course, you consider that employees are committing fraud when they collect full paychecks on weeks they don't work a full 40 hours because they don't have enough project running but, because they're salaried, the employer still honors their side of the employment agreement?

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

You should have discussed this with your boss BEFORE you found yourself in this situation. This would be at the top of my list of questions when going from hourly to salary. Unfortunately, you and your boss have agreed on your current situation. If you try and re-negotiate now, there are two possible scenarios. First, your boss says "no" to any additional compensation or to changing you back to hourly. Then what? Do you look for a new job or keep working extra hours for free? The second option would be for your boss to agree to additional compensation or to change you back to hourly. I don't think this is likely because management has probably given this more thought than you have and likes the idea of salaried positions rather than paying out overtime.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

I think it's important to keep in mind the differences between the USA and rest of the world - business practices which would be flagrantly illegal / unethical / fraudulent in the rest of the world are commonly accepted as the norm and defended as ethical stateside.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

JMO but griping about 45/wk average and the occasional 55 is a bit ridiculous. If a subordinate griped much about that I'd likely walk their entitled self out before others' morale suffered. Junior engineers in every office I have been in were expected to pull 50+ for their first 1-2 years simply to jump from grad to professional with some basic knowledge and abilities. Beyond that, do what the job requires or find another.

Quote:

...why not make the working week 20 hours and have you work the rest for free.

Why bother defining work hours? I'm paid X to do/design Y. Sometimes that requires constant focused effort and/or OT for weeks, at others it requires minimal effort and 30/wk. Domestic projects usually get done 8-4, international projects often have me on calls with Asia at 6 am and/or pm. Flex schedules and working remotely have become common for good reason, and many of us simply wont work in offices with unrealistically rigid expectations any longer bc it makes zero sense for employees nor the business. M-F 8-4 you say? - Good luck filling that position boomer, see you at the liquidation auction.

Quote:

I think it's important to keep in mind the differences between the USA and rest of the world...

Yes, like the fact that professionals stateside are treated like adults and allowed to negotiate their own terms, hence being much better compensated. Sorry not sorry but I dont need a warning on the cup to know coffee is hot, instructions to wipe my butt, nor govt intervention on other similarly trivial matters.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote (phamENG)

Unless, of course, you consider that employees are committing fraud when they collect full paychecks on weeks they don't work a full 40 hours because they don't have enough project running but, because they're salaried, the employer still honors their side of the employment agreement?

Please warn us when you're going to make cracks like that phamENG, I nearly shot hot tea all over my laptop. That scenario is as unrealistic from my Engineering experience as the villains in an Ayn Rand novel. The idea of not having enough work to fill 40 hours (or 37 back in Blighty) is hard to imagine.


Youniccon - I'm in a somewhat different field/situation to you so take with a big pinch of salt but... Do you have a direct boss that isn't this specific PM? Do you have a halfway decent relationship with them? If so then how about talking to them about it, not in a stereotypical whining millenial/zennial/gen Z or whatever silly label folks like to use way, but just to get a better understanding of how much 'extra' they expect and how to handle it etc.

However, this is a bit of a do as I say not as I do situation (which with hindsight a lot of the input I've given in these soft fora probably was) I may be the guy with the plank in his eye giving tips to someone about how to get the sawdust out of theirs.

I've had your PM type back in the day, a pressure pusher as I think my then boss (or former boss or something like that) at the time called him. Got to the point I had semi-permanent neck pain from dealing with him (the kind that has you wonder is this angina or maybe a heart attack), I basically rode that one out till I got taken off his project and got given what turned out to be something far more enjoyable for a few years (though still hectic/stressful) and the neck pain went away - most of the time.

I have a PM who is a bit similar currently though before the project kicked off I talked to my direct supervisor on topics of how much extra was going to be expected - or perhaps more me clearly stating the limitations on what I would commit. It may or not catch up with me, we'll see.

So you have my commiserations.

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RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote (KENAT)

Please warn us when you're going to make cracks like that phamENG, I nearly shot hot tea all over my laptop.

Ha. My sincerest apologies. I agree it's pretty rare - but that's mostly because the employer is more likely to lay somebody off if it's going to be a prolonged issue. I have seen it some - a few years ago around the holidays things really slowed down and we were working 30 hour weeks for the month of December. Really quite nice (for the salaried engineers without a stake, anyway). And I know of a few firms that had to dip into credit lines and make-work activities with the pandemic hit and everybody slammed on the brakes. That has more than reversed itself around here, but things do happen.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

(OP)
An update for anyone that cares.

I've managed to arrange myself to work for two other managers. They liked my work and ethics and have been grabbing me for all their projects, as well as spending time to teach me more as well. I'm no longer working with that past manager anymore and my work life balance is significantly better. As long as I get all my work done and the quality is there, they don't care if I work 35 hours or 45 hours. When there's deadlines, I do work overtime, but now it's my choice, and I willingly do it.

The past managers was just creating unnecessary work and standards. None of the other managers demand what he did. And they are better at setting up the projects.

I've also received offers from other companies for 15% increase in salary but did not take it. Now that my work environment has improved, I'm good where I'm at now.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay


Youniccon well that's a nice update - good to hear it.

I now feel less guilty responding to phamENG so..

In my experience 'money being tight' had little to do with the engineering workload - joys of being in the manufacturing field I suppose. We could be crazy busy working on multiple projects all the hours God sent etc. but if sales dipped, engineering still had to take a hair cut and to compound it they wouldn't necessarily reduce the number of projects or consciously push out schedules so the workload would actually increase. In 'Engineering as a service' environments I can see how it may be different.

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RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Youniccon - excellent news. Glad you were able to work things out successfully.

KENAT - guilt? You mean that wasn't an honest accounting of what happened? I'm shocked. Kidding aside, the difference in market is a good thing to consider. Regions and countries have different standards and laws, and different industries within engineering have different modes of operating. For you, the engineering is likely your way out of the hole - create a better product, improve a product, make the manufacturing more efficient, etc. For us, the engineering is the product, so if nobody is buying there's nothing to do. Marketing has to get us out of the hole to start working again.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

The guilt was at straying off topic, my story is 100% accurate I swearbigsmile.

Yeah you got my implicit point on how engineering behaves in different sectors/business structures etc. - it's something posters should remember in this type of soft forum - I'm definitely not saying people from other sectors shouldn't answer but the context of their input needs consideration on occasion.

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RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Quote:

The idea of not having enough work to fill 40 hours (or 37 back in Blighty) is hard to imagine.

That's a regular occurrence in the modern corporate world, bust your ass then relax. Occasionally a new, lousy manager will try to fill those weeks with random tasks on other projects but those folks dont last long. Intentionally inducing employee burnout and killing other projects' efficiency never goes over well with management, and modern PM tools give everybody access to the data to prove those managers lousy. Yet another reason why the M-F, 8-4 week has largely disappeared - data.

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Yet despite the McD's "tragedy" only a few chains stateside actually print warnings on their coffee cups. Given that coffee sales here are measured in tens of millions of cups daily, are often self-dispensed (the most likely time to spill) by customers, and that we dont see an epidemic of burns leading to lawsuits then I'd say consumers really dont need legal protections in that area. Most recognize coffee is hot and take appropriate precautions, just the same as they realize that income is important and negotiate accordingly.

As to the "modern" corporate world, apologies if I tend to be a bit suspicious of others' opinions on the matter. Ask any PM consultant what their biggest struggle is when hired to modernize basic PM process and they'll say it is employees who mistake their employer's antiquated methods for "modern" - the old "aversion to progress."

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Note that Liebeck had asked for a measly $20k to settle, which were her actual damages and had not even asked for covering here partial disability from the injuries; McDonalds refused to settle. McDonalds refused all offers to settle.

Note also that McDonalds ran their coffee on the hot side 180F to 190F, the high side of which results in nearly instantaneous 3rd degree burns; the ostensible reason is that people can't drink coffee as fast, thereby reducing the amount of refills McDonalds have to pour, thereby maintaining their high level of profits from that product.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

2
This thread has gotten offtrack but I think my key learning is I'm glad I don't work for CWB1

RE: Work-Life Balance and Pay

Congratulations on moving into a better position. Despite everything that has been said, it is up to you what fits your goals best. Take the lesson from the experience, and leave the emotional baggage behind.

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