#TeamOT

Several years ago, when the Twilight series of novels and movies was particularly popular, some enterprising teenagers and young adults, who apparently love to let others know whose team they are on [1], started to post on social media about their favored choices for the ideal romantic hero of the witless heroine of that series with the terms #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob. This habit soon spread into other fandoms where it was not as well appreciated, such as the Hunger Games’ #TeamPeeta and #TeamGale, to demonstrate the malleability of this easy-to-recognize format with any literature series where there is a similarly unfortunate love triangle [2]. I wonder, although I do not know for sure, whether those who read Dickens’ Tale Of Two Cities like I did in the 9th grade would be inspired by this particular societal trend to proclaim themselves as being on #TeamCharles or #TeamSydney. For the record, as those who know my taste for tragedy well, I am on #TeamSydney myself [3], to honor the cynical but ultimately noble and loving and self-sacrificial English barrister who gives his life for the émigré French nobleman the woman he loves loves. Anyway, all of this is context.

At work, I am the neighbor of a group of employees who are very strictly limited to 40 hours per week so that no overtime is paid to them whatsoever, except during peak times. As might be expected, I am the odd fellow in that overtime is a possibility for me under certain circumstances, namely that if the projects that I do in addition to my usual work cause me to work more than forty hours per week, I receive overtime. At times, this has been five or ten or even more hours per week during peak times, which can get rather exhausting, as might easily be imagined as a #smalldata employee like myself. It often surprises people to hear that I am an hourly employee at all, given that most people in my particular position are salaried. Yet I and my immediate peers, as support staff who deal with monitoring and reporting, are hourly employees despite the fact that what we do can end up giving us somewhat excessive schedules at times. I do not make the larger strategy decisions, and certainly not anything involving HR or chains of authority or anything like that, but I find it curious nonetheless.

As I discussed some time ago when I was writing about the problem of moonlighting [4], the issue of hourly wage earners as opposed to salaried employees is more than merely a difference in how one gets paid but also a difference in mindset. As an hourly employee, I tend to get a little irritated when the avoidance of overtime leads to crazy schedules that harm my day-to-day work, for which I am judged as being a competent employee (or not). It can at times be exhausting to work long weeks engaged in stressful projects for internal reporting or helping my bosses with pitches to clients, and so on, but at the same time, I know that I am well-paid for working the extra hours, which allows me to plan which restaurant to go to for my go-to comfort food of chicken parmesan, for example. As a salaried employee, a company pays a premium so that your time largely belongs to them. As there is a greater feeling of loyalty and appreciation from the company, so too the salaried employee is supposed to show a degree of loyalty to the company, through longer normal working hours, as a result of that additional guaranteed salary. There are always tradeoffs to consider, for both the employer and the employee, when it comes to whether someone is on #TeamOT, #TeamFT, TeamPT, or #TeamSalary, to give but a few examples.

This is complicated even further by the question of laws like the Affordable Care Act, which unsurprisingly is the context of much of my labor, with regards to mandated employee benefits. Many companies that do not wish to pay health insurance for their employees have a strong motivation to keep their employees working under certain thresholds in order to avoid having to pay their health insurance coverage. Still other companies that want to keep their employees in #TeamFT but not #TeamOT are motivated to engage in sometimes aggressive desk sharing arrangements or schedules like 4-10 or 5-7+1-5 in order to maximize the amount of employees that can work within a given square footage of office space. This sort of logistical planning can be particularly intense, with high stakes, given the cost of employees and the opportunity cost of lost revenues from inefficient staffing. Personally, I am glad that this job is not mine, but it is a job that needs to be done and done well for many companies.

I remember when I first found out about #TeamOT, as an eighteen year old recent high school graduate, working as a summer temp employee at various offices to earn money before going off to college. Being the sort of person who was quite willing to work for extra money, and rather irritated at the fact that I had to wait so long for the family carpool to show up after work, I was informed by my supervisor while I was working at PMI the true nature of the costs of #TeamOT for the company I was working for. To my shock, I saw that there was a substantial per hour premium attached to my own wage, and that while overtime meant time and a half wages for me, it also meant time and a half increased payments for the temporary agency, and this was a price the company I worked for was unwilling to pay, and understandably so, as I was a data entry employee typing home applications into a database so that various fees could be collected for those who were trying to borrow more than 80% of the principal for their homes. This was big business where I grew up, after all, money that was not meant to be shared with a clever but fairly near-sighted young man trying to find a good team to be on. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/were-on-each-others-team/

[2] The subject of love triangles, and more complicated polygons, is a particularly oppressive subject for me personally. See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/04/03/triste-est-anima-mea-usque-ad-mortem/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/it-is-a-far-better-thing-that-i-do-than-i-have-ever-done/

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/double-dipping-on-the-ethics-of-moonlighting/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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