A few weeks ago, I answered a question from a reader about converting from salary to hourly status as a result of the upcoming changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA.) It occurred to me after I published the post that there might be organizations that are postponing or struggling with these conversations. So here are a few things to consider when it comes time to talk with employees about the changes and requirements of moving from salary to hourly.
Don’t delay. While the changes don’t go into effect until December 1, 2016, you don’t have to wait until the day prior to have this conversation with employees. Even if you have the conversation now but it’s going into effect later, give employees the information they need and the time to process the change.
Draft your talking points. This is a big change. Think about all of the things that need to be said and allow time for questions. Have a few details about the FLSA change in case employees ask.
Decide who needs to be in the room. Sometimes walking into a room with your manager and HR can be a bit intimidating, but this is one of those conversations where having HR field any logistical questions could be valuable, especially when it comes to payroll and overtime.
Assure the employee they are valuable. One of the biggest concerns we’re hearing about this update is the feeling that employees perceived being paid hourly makes them less valuable. Possibly because the employee was told being salaried is great when they initially took the job.
Allow the employee to vent. It can be uncomfortable, but let employees process the change. They might be emotional, confused, or angry. Neither the company or the employee created this situation. Empathize with the employee.
Give the employee a chance to ask questions. If you have more than one employee impacted by this change, it might make some sense to put all of the employee questions into a FAQ that can be distributed after the meetings. Individual situations would still be addressed privately.
Follow-up with the employee. It’s possible that employees will have comments and/or questions a few days after the meeting. Let employees know that you want to touch base after a couple of days to answer any follow-up questions. If the employee has none, no worries. But it lets the employee know that you care.
Organizations and employees might be totally against this new FLSA update and moving from salary to hourly, but it doesn’t change the fact that the update is taking place. Delaying the conversation doesn’t make it sting any less. Communicate with employees so they can process the information and make plans. They might not like the message but they will appreciate your respect for them.
P.S. If you’re a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), they’re created a FLSA Overtime Rule Resources Page which includes an implementation checklist and tips how to talk with employees about the change. This is great because you can never have too many resources during times like these.
Image taken by Sharlyn Lauby at the 34th Street Graffiti Wall in Gainesville, FL