Unpaid Work Is Part of the Norm | Career Angles

Unpaid Work Is Part of the Norm

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

I conducted a decidedly unscientific survey during the first weeks of April 2021 to see how much people were working.

In the Covid era, I expected to find that at least 40% of people working more than 50 hours a week. After all, working from home makes it easier to extend the workday beyond the typical 40 hours.

Although I expected to find it that extreme, that is not what the survey determined.

Certainly, people are working more than what the United States is referred to as the 40-hour workweek.

44% of people indicated they worked between 40 and 50 hours per week.

33% worked more than 50 hours per week.

What I see from that is 77% of respondents are giving their employer unpaid work for reasons that the poll did not determine.

Some people commented that if you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work. I understand that feeling. I also understand that I love laying on a Caribbean beach even more but don’t make the time to do it very often even pre-Covid.

Again, what I thought was particularly curious was that no one seemed to think of the unpaid work that they were doing for their employer and that they were paid for their efforts, some of the financial issues might have been resolved.

Such generosity by the workforce seems silly to me and offers an opportunity for government to inject itself into the areas of fairness and equity.

After all, when people work at low-wage jobs, they are paid for every minute that they work (or is one respondent quipped, “pretend to work,” when discussing her 40-hour workweek).

It seems arbitrary for employers to decide that at certain levels of responsibility, they no longer pay for the additional time worked, thus reducing the salary per hour they pay for these individuals.

Yes, I understand that for many positions like this, people receive bonuses based upon individual contribution firmwide profitability. However, these are not wages and are at risk during poor economic times. They are by definition, bonuses rather than payment for work and thus can be canceled for any reason.

Future polls will look into why people work overtime.

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2021



Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, Amazon and Roku, as well as on BingeNetworks.tv for Apple TV and 90+ smartsets.

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