07/18/2018 Molly Moseley

How to get fired in 9 minutes

An accident causes a traffic jam and you’re 10 minutes late for work. Your kid just can’t get out the door so you’re running 5 minutes late. You forgot your cell phone in your car, so you head back to grab it and scoot into work just 1 minute after start time.

Late days happen, and while these few minutes may not seem like a big deal to most working professionals, if you’re an hourly employee for Tesla and this happens nine times, you could get canned. Nine times and just 9 minutes total could lose you your job!

Tesla’s new policy has received plenty of criticism. While we can all agree that being on time is important, a few minutes likely won’t make a big impact on productivity, especially if it’s a rare occurrence. In the current economy where workers can quit for a salary win, why would anyone want to stay at Tesla?

This appears to be a policy unique to hourly (non-exempt) employees who are too often held in a different regard than salaried (exempt) employees. If you’re reading this and salaried, would you even think twice about being 1 minute late? Not likely. And I’m guessing if you got a black mark on your record for that 1 minute, you’d be pretty upset.

If you’ve ever worked at a place where there are both hourly and salaried employees, you know of the unspoken yet very real divide. How can HR and business leaders curate a more equalized experience so that there’s not only synergy between the two groups, but you’re building loyalty among hourly employees? Laws do play a role in the policies of the non-exepmt workforce, but there are things companies can do to ensure their experience is as positive as salaried employees.

One culture: You have one company, you should have one culture and it should include respect for all employees. As part of that, engage and communicate with hourly employees as much as possible, even if they are on an off-shift. Make them feel valued by providing avenues to voice their opinions and know they are heard. Benefits packages may vary also, and while there may be reasons you can’t offer the same PTO or retirement, is there really a reason hourly employees can’t enjoy perks like periodic catered meals or gym reimbursements in the same way salaried employees do?

Career development: Hourly employees desire the ability to advance their careers just as much as their salaried counterparts. The first step is to talk to hourly employees about their goals rather than treating them like temporary gig workers. What is their vision? Are there ways the company can help them get there? By discussing career aspirations and showing genuine interest, you’re already changing the employee experience. They go from feeling like a second-class worker to seeing the bigger picture, and loyalty can skyrocket.

Flexible scheduling: Strict scheduling is the enemy of work-life balance. While it’s not always possible to offer flexibility, there may be some solutions you can consider for hourly staff. Maybe it’s giving workers the ability to swap shifts when needed, allowing them to request and trade work periods as necessary. A step above this is employee-led scheduling, which allows employees to set their schedules (within reason, of course). You may find employees make changes that actually boost productivity!

How does your company deal with hourly versus salaried employees? Is an effort made for equality or is there a clear divide?