I’m a manager of a small manufacturing plant in Cavite. The managers’ regular work schedule is Monday to Friday. My problem is with our CEO who released a new policy requiring all managers to perform overtime work during Saturdays and holidays. All managers are assigned to work alternatively as factory officer-in-charge to supervise our two shifts — 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The trouble is that we are not being paid any overtime premium or cash allowance as the CEO insists that our salary covers everything. He says the disturbance is not much as the manager’s schedule is rotated every six weeks. Despite this, many managers feel it’s not right to change the rules in the middle of the game. Could you please comment on this? — Feeling Trapped.
Sometime ago, British Rail was reported to be looking for a way to test the best and most durable locomotive windshields when it heard about an unusual test conducted by British Airways. The airline used a cannon to fire dressed chickens to simulate bird strikes on passenger jets to ensure that designs and materials met safety standards.
Performing its own experiment, British Rail bought several supermarket chickens. The test cannon was then loaded, aimed and fired them at the train’s windshield. Unfortunately, the birds smashed through the windshield, broke the engineer’s chair, and made a large dent in the rear wall.
The railway management was disappointed with the result and called an expert from British Airways for assistance. The expert’s advice was, “Next time, when you load chickens in to the cannon, make sure they aren’t frozen.”
Forcing managers to perform overtime could freeze and damage work relationship. If not, it could provoke a silent protest that adversely affects motivation and productivity of managers, among others. But I’m sure all managers who are similarly situated are not chickens. Why not raise the issue again with the CEO?
It appears that the CEO issued the new policy without consulting all managers. And if you attempt to change the policy, you may be positioning the managers against the CEO. Just the same, try to analyze the situation from a sober and objective perspective as it would be difficult for the CEO to recall such new policy.
For one thing, I believe that the CEO objects to the payment of overtime premiums as it means additional expenses on the part of the company. Therefore, the best approach is how to adjust the policy in accordance with the following non-monetary options:
One, propose a flexible work schedule. The scheme should allows Saturday work to be compensable work for any day in the Monday through Friday regular schedule. This means that if a manager performs work on a Saturday, he should be allowed to take one day off in any day on the following week. There should be no two managers who are allowed to take a day off on the same day.
Two, give out additional leave credits. These will go to the manager who worked on Saturday in compensation for the Saturday work. Of course, this involves monetary considerations as well. But can be proposed in lieu of option number one. The leave credit may be applied to either vacation or sick leave.
Three, consider a compressed work schedule for all workers. Try to find out if Saturday work can be eliminated without disrupting service delivery and production schedules. You might think of distributing the Saturday work hours over a week to see if the required output can be achieved in the five regular working days. Imagine the operational expenses (electricity, and other utilities) that the organization might save. However, this requires the approval of the Department of Labor and Employment.
Four, include line supervisors and junior managers in the Saturday OIC rotation schedule. This could stretch the interval to 18 weeks depending on the size of your management team. This also allows other line executives to be trained on the job and be a part of the succession plan.
Last, avoid all forms of overtime work for all workers. Emphasize the advantages of having to work within regular working hours. It’s important to understand that workers and their managers have family obligations as well. At times, non-management workers will want the opportunity to perform overtime work for additional income. If this happens, take the opportunity to probe the most common reasons for overtime work.
Chances are, you’ll discover that what used to be mandatory overtime work had no real purpose. Overtime work is not a permanent solution to overall workload issues or perennial understaffing. That’s why you have to study the systems and procedures to make everything run smoothly without incurring additional costs.
ELBONOMICS: To be the best means you have to do your job within limits.
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