I remember when my son, Christopher, worked at a golf course as a teenager. His shift started at 4:00 p.m. when I drove him to work, he was in a complete state of panic if he wasn’t at the golf course by 3:50. He was so worried that he will be fired because he was late.
In the past, I had an office temp help me with a seminar. Her scheduled starting time was 8:00 a.m. She arrived at 7:52 and apologized for being early, and then excused herself “to relax” until eight.
Why is it that some teenagers understand it, and yet some full-grown adults do not?
[ctt template=”3″ link=”iceF8″ via=”yes” ]What does “On time” mean to you when you arrive to work?[/ctt]
To me, common sense says starting time means “start no later than.” it does not mean the time you walk through the door, or the time you pull into the parking lot. Starting time implies that you have already filled your cup of coffee, already checked your Twitter and Facebook feed, read the newspaper, and said hello to your friends. It means you are “starting to work.”
Unless it is understood that you work on a flex-time schedule, it is not a flexible start time; it is not 8 a.m.ish. You are being paid to work thirty-seven hours a week (or whatever your agreement is) and you are expected to be at the office for certain times.
The same goes for breaks and lunch. You get fifteen minutes. Not seventeen. Not twenty-five because you worked through lunch, but fifteen.
There was a time when everyone had to punch a time clock to indicate they were in the office and working at their starting time. The clock kept track of breaks, lunch, and when you left. if you punched in late, your paycheck was adjusted.
[ctt template=”3″ link=”Flx1n” via=”yes” ]Even though most of us don’t punch a time clock anymore, we should still treat the hours we work as if we are.[/ctt]
Although most of us don’t have to punch in to a time clock today, we should act as though we do. Let’s assume you arrive to work at 8 a.m. By the time you hang up your coat, get your coffee and boot up the computer it is probably 8:15. At lunch, you like to go to the gym, and your gym class is forty-five minutes long. It takes a few minutes to get changed, a few minutes to freshen up, and perhaps your lunch break becomes sixty-five minutes long. Your bus picks you up outside your office at 5 p.m. sharp. if you miss that bus, you have to wait forty-five minutes for the next one, so you start cleaning up your desk to leave around 4:40, and sneak out around 4:52 each day.
This adds up to about thirty minutes a day that you are cheating your company. Thirty minutes a day at fifty weeks a year equals twenty-five hours a year, or almost a full week of work. How much money do you make in a week? Would you be willing to pay someone an extra week per year for work they didn’t do?
Most people assuage their guilt with rationalizations: “I work through breaks,” “I work overtime” or “I take work home.” Fine, but that is what you are doing freely of your own volition. You were hired to work eight to five. You decided to offer these extra bonuses to your firm, but who gave you the right to remove time from your regular schedule? Unless you agreed with your supervisor that you have flexibility, do not assume that you have this flexibility. I guarantee your coworkers notice it, are annoyed by it, and complain about it. People remember the negative (she shows up ten minutes late every day). They will not assume you are working ten minutes extra every day to compensate, especially if they are not.
Sit down and have a chat with your boss and arrange some flexibility if it is necessary. That way, everyone agrees to your work hours and you will have nothing to feel guilty about.
I’m thrilled that Christopher learned good habits as a teenager. It meant I did something right. He has the appropriate work ethic and attitude, and realized that having a job is a gift, not a right. I am sorely disappointed in adults who don’t “get it” and nickel and dime their company on working hours. Common sense teaches you to offer more than what you are asked to do, not the other way around. You earn a paycheck for the hours you work and the work you do. No one owes you for what you didn’t deliver, for displaying a poor work ethic, and for not having the right attitude. They certainly aren’t people I would hire again.