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Experts say HR should prepare to track the time employees spend using smartphones for work
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ORLANDO, Fla.—Several studies reveal that employees who use smartphones work longer hours. Little wonder.
Employees can access work after regular hours from home or on the weekends via e-mail, texting and a plethora of apps such as WhatsApp, Slack, Asana or Basecamp. They do work through instant messaging via LinkedIn and Facebook’s Messenger, too.
Now that the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) new overtime rule has been issued, will companies have to create or change their device management policies to accommodate the new law?
For more overtime compliance news, tips and tools, check out the SHRM resources provided below:
HR professionals like Wendy Dailey are concerned about what this change will mean for people who use their devices for work.
“I’m a little disappointed that the rules are not becoming more flexible for hourly employees, which is where my concerns regarding mobile devices are,” said Dailey, a facilities and services employment coordinator at South Dakota State University, in an interview with
SHRM Online. “We utilize mobile devices for the majority of our hourly staff, to communicate work assignments [and] track time and communication with supervisors,” she said. “We have allowed staff to take these devices home and utilize them for some nonwork-related apps.
“For some of our staff, this has caused some blurred lines between when their workday begins and ends,” she added.
Have Smartphone, Will Work
Employees who use smartphones wind up working about 13.5 hours every day and as many as 72 hours each week—which includes weekends, according to a 2015 study from the executive education firm
Center for Creative Leadership. The study also revealed that aside from sleeping, people only spend about three hours a day doing other activities like exercising or spending time with their families.
“While technology may be a logical scapegoat, it is actually just a new-age mask for an age-old problem: poor management and poor leadership,” the report stated.
SAP Chief Human Resources Officer Stefan Ries concurred.
Although people are connected to smart devices “24/7, it is very important for each and every employee to realize that you need a balanced life,” Ries told
SHRM Online during the Walldorf, Germany-based software company’s technology conference here in Fla. Otherwise, people will “burn out.” What employers should do, he said, is spend time educating their leaders to set a tone where people aren’t expected to work on their off hours.
“Don’t expect employees to answer an e-mail within the next five minutes” of it being sent. “It won’t help you be an employer of choice.”
What Should HR Do?
Andrew Volin, an expert on wage and hour compensation and a partner at the Denver-based law firm of Sherman & Howard, had three tips for employers adjusting to the new overtime regulation:
Volin said he believes the new law will change the workplace culture. “There will be an increased emphasis on tracking hours worked and an increased number of claims for companies who stumble at this step.”
While “most workers can have their compensation prospectively changed, some may pose special problems. For example, someone with an employment contract might create a challenge if the change is not permitted by their contract,” he said.
Volin added that he expects some companies will seek out technologies that will help better track employee hours.
Once an employer has figured out that a job will now be classified as nonexempt, Volin said that an employer can choose from these tactics:
Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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