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Overtime is a sticky subject. Obviously, there are legal issues, but there are also culture, relationship and budget factors in the equation.

First and foremost, you should always refer to your letter of employment, employment contract and your employee handbook to answer questions about overtime in your specific company. The second set of resources are your direct supervisor and your Human Resources person. The third is observation. If you are just starting in a position, observe your coworkers. Are they putting in overtime? Are they including it on their time sheet?

Have you seen The Pitch on AMC? The culture in those offices is to work until the job is done, period. Now, granted, most of those employees are salaried, but the culture of the company is to work more than 40 hours a week.

No employer likes to be nickel and dimed. No employee likes to be monitored like a hawk for every five-minute increment. It’s time-consuming, micromanage-y and petty on both parties.

Let’s say for example, you are an hourly employee and in your letter of employment you are eligible for overtime. You typically work your 40 hours a week, but occasionally you’re asked to come in early or stay a little late. Usually, your direct supervisor considers the extra time to be “comp time” and lets you take a longer lunch or go to an appointment to balance everything out. In this instance, unless otherwise told by your direct supervisor, you should not be putting in for overtime pay. The unspoken rule could be interpreted rule that under three hours should be considered compensation time. When you adhere to this office culture practice, you’re showing you are a team player, conscientious of the cost and budget implications of paying you overtime.

What’s the overtime culture in your company?

When your (current or former) boss dies

I received some very unsettling news this morning. My former boss and a man who I greatly respected and considered a mentor died. From what I can gather by talking with a few of my former co-workers, it was unexpected.

I never really thought about how such an event would affect me or my former co-workers. I’m sad to no longer reside within driving distance, so attending the funeral is out of the question. I’ll send a note of condolence to his family, but it still feels like I should do more.

A quick Google search revealed, there’s not much available on this topic (that is serious in nature) and there’s no good protocol to follow. I found this article in The Hill, on what happens to the staff left behind when a member of Congress dies. The main takeaway is, “People would say, ‘Oh I’m sorry your boss died, so where are you going to work next?’ It wasn’t like, ‘Oh my gosh, how are you doing? You lost your mentor.’ And it’s not that they are not sensitive, it’s just that they don’t know. It’s such a unique situation and most people don’t think of the personal side.”

When you work with someone eight hours a day, 40 hours a week for at least 50 weeks a year, you develop a bond and a relationship. It may be purely professional, but it’s still a relationship that has now ended suddenly. Your grief is appropriate, just handle it appropriately.

When you sit down to write the note of condolence to the family, be sure to include a few anecdotes of what made your boss great. I intend to include in my note that “his demand for perfection also allowed room for me to learn from my own mistakes. His open door policy and sense of humor made working for him, in such a high stakes environment, worthwhile. His passing is a great loss to the news industry and to all those who worked for him, but pales in comparison to the loss I know you feel. Please know you are all in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Here’s the article from TvSpy about my former News Director, Greg Koelfgen.

Keeping a Balance

I’ve previously mentioned that I know all too well what it’s like to have my work be my life. It’s hard not to let work consume you when you are on call 24/7 or know that when the creek floods by your house, it will be you who is expected to cover the story.

Now that I’ve rediscovered weekends and evenings, it is hard to give them up. After more than a year of what used to be considered an indulgence, I still feel like I have a few more hours in the day and my weekends are longer. It’s a great feeling.

I’m contemplating pursuing a Masters in Strategic Communication. I say contemplating because while I know I want to and I miss the intellectual stimulation of college classes and learning in general, I don’t know if I really want to give up those precious hours. Especially since there is no way to stop working my regular 40 hours a week and go back to school full-time. It just isn’t feasible.

On the other hand, the knowledge I could gain from the classes would help me in my future career endeavors and give me more insight into exactly what I want to be when I grow up. It could fill in my self-taught gaps.

I don’t know which side wins out yet. At least I know the process will take time, even if I decided to start the ball rolling today.