Workin’ it, working overtime (Weekend Assignment #307)

Karen is hosting the current Weekend Assignment at Oupost Mâvarin, and it’s got her working overtime:

Weekend Assignment #307: Common wisdom, these days, backed up by actual statistics if I had time to look them up, tells us that as a nation we’ve been working harder in recent years just to maintain the same level of financial solvency. Recession-related unemployment and underemployment aside, do you find this is true for your family?

Extra Credit: Is overtime something you take on willingly? Why or why not?

As I so often do, I’ll tackle the extra credit first:

I have been in salaried positions for nearly twenty years, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been paid for overtime, but it’s certainly been something I’ve done. I’m an accountant, and projects like preparation for year-end audits, budgets, and system conversions have frequently required more than a 40-hour work week from me. On top of that, there are the times when short-staffing or just generally getting behind mean there’s more work than there is time in a normal work day. But part of being salaried is that the focus is on getting the work done, regardless of the time it takes, so that’s what I’ve done, and for most of my career I haven’t begrudged it. During the first few years I was in my current job, which were also the years I was unmarried, I was that always-available employee that managers love – the one who rarely takes days off, works the unpopular days before and after holidays, and is flexible so others don’t have to be. But I’ve been a little less willing to do “whatever it takes” during the last couple of years; I’ll try to get as much as I can done during the workday, and I’m happy to be the first one in the office, but I’m going to do my best to get out by 4:30. However, I’ve also been granted access to our computer systems from home; between that and the fact that my boss, co-workers and I all have each others’ cell phone numbers, “overtime” can happen any time, at least in theory.

As far as the primary question goes, I think it’s not as true for our family as it is for some others, but it certainly could be. At this point, we try to manage our budget from the expense side of things, but realistically, that can only go so far – at some point, supplementing income becomes the only way to get ahead. Both my husband and I have been in our current jobs for several years – long enough that, in current economic conditions, changing jobs might not necessarily mean dramatically better salaries (and would almost certainly mean a loss in paid time off and other benefits). The part-time custody arrangements for my stepchildren make for an irregular schedule for second jobs or even pursuing freelance work, although it’s something we could -and might have to – explore as the kids get older.

Having said that, I really try to appreciate how relatively well off we are – both employed at respectable salaries with established organizations. It definitely takes both of us being employed to keep our heads above water, though, and I keep my fingers crossed every day that it stays that way. Either that, or one of those lottery tickets my husband buys every week finally turns up a winning number…

What do you think? You have until next Wednesday at 6 PM to give us your thoughts, either as a blog entry or in the comments on the main Weekend Assignment at Oupost Mâvarin. If you do write a blog entry, please mention the Weekend Assignment, and leave a link to your entry in the comments thread on the main post.

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