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3 Steps to Deciding if Newly Non-exempt Employees Should Use Technology After Hours?

A small business owner recently asked me about her staff who will become non-exempt December 1, 2016 when overtime regulations change. Her employees check email before they come into work and again in the evening from home as one way of providing quality customer service.

This blog focuses on the topic of using technology outside of the normal work day. What should small business owners do? How do they decide? How will decisions affect business and clients?

I am taking the sandwich approach to my answer. First, start by communicating with your staff. If any of us believe employees are not aware of this change, we fool only ourselves. Let’s use this to our advantage and gain some engagement along the way.

As you talk with your staff, share what you know about the regulations. Then discuss how the change affects more than whether or not they get paid overtime. If you’re not ready for the overtime discussion, let employees know that when you’ve decided you’ll let them know either as a group or individually. The individual approach, depending on the size of your staff, is the preferred method for sharing an individual’s personal impact.

Talk openly about how the staff uses technology. Let them know changes may be required in how they use technology before or after normal work hours depending on changes to the exemption status. Ask for their ideas. Listen actively. The team may develop a workable solution as they talk through the issues and how the work may need to change.

Second, so you’ve gathered input and ideas from your staff. They will appreciate being asked. If you are the type of manager who values the input of others, let them know you value their input and it will help you with your decision. Doesn’t mean you have to follow the suggestions. The point is you asked. Their ideas may spark others that you hadn’t considered before.

Take some time to digest what you heard and reflect. Could any of the ideas work? After hearing their input, perhaps you’ll realize it will affect them less than you previously thought. Yet, how will the decision affect your clients, your reputation and business, if you no longer respond to clients before or after norm work hours? Or, do you redistribute the work?

Finally, communicate the decisions you’ve made. Share how the work will change while ensuring customer service remains strong. Evaluate the results after a few weeks. Since you have an open rapport with your staff, ask them to bring any problems along with suggestions to solve the problems; they may be closer to the situations and have other insights. What’s important is you involved the team in solving a team problem. Thank them for contributing!

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