You'll never believe how much money New Yorkers wasted by working off the clock last year.

Here's a wake up call for all you workaholics: Stop. New York was found to have some of the highest totals of unpaid overtime labor out of all 50 states in 2023.

Those Hours Add Up

We're all guilty of jumping into work mode, or "plugging back in" as the cool kids say, during our off time. Sometimes, a "work thing" pops up after you've clocked out for the day, but you decide to knock it out then and there because, as you think, it'll be one less thing waiting for you when you head back in the office.

But if you do that too often, you could be kissing more than just your peace of mind goodbye -- you're basically throwing a large sum of cash right in the trash every time you work off the clock.

A recent, comprehensive study by Rebel’s Guide to Project Management looked into current work trends and found conditions for working Americans are worsening. The most alarming trend was the rising number of people working overtime and knowingly not getting paid.

A survey of 3,000 employees looked into how many hours, on average, they work off the clock -- essentially on their own time and dime.

 

 

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When looking into the working habits of New Yorkers, it was found employees in the Empire State actually increased the amount of time spent working off the clock. While workers here may think there's no harm in knocking out work emails or spending a couple minutes finishing up a project - the survey added all that time together.

When looking into the total time spent working off the clock in a calendar year, the results were extremely unsettling.

Unfortunately, some companies are known to "encourage" their employees to "step up" and show their dedication, so there are some cases where it can't be helped. Thankfully, I don't work for a company like that and I hope business models like that go extinct.

Is It Worth It?

When responding to the survey, New Yorkers estimated they work approximately 4.1 hours of unpaid overtime per week, which boils down to roughly 45 minutes per day. On that daily level, it could seem harmless when one has moments to spare.

Some people probably enjoy knocking out a few after-work emails or taking care of something they'd rather not deal with the following day - but all that adds up into an ungodly amount of hours siphoned from their free time.

When multiplying that 4.1-hours-per-week spent on unpaid labor, that amounted to New Yorkers working a grand total of 212 unpaid, overtime hours per year.

To put it into perspective: if dividing that total against an average, 40-hour work week, that means New Yorkers worked 5.3 weeks for free.

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Doesn't feel that great, doesn't it?

Even more: let's say someone working at $16-an-hour is guilty of working those 212 hours unpaid - that amounts to $3,392 they could have earned while on the clock.

In all, it's estimated New York workers collectively worked over 6.8 billion hours in unpaid overtime in 2023.

Why Is This Happening?

That's the question of the day, isn't it? It seems like only yesterday companies were offering inflated wages to attract all those "quiet quitters" and "rage applyers" to join their ranks during the "Great Resignation."

Read More: New York Is the Most Productive State in the Country

Now, it appears things have reversed course when it comes to employee welfare. Nationwide, people are working more hours off the clock, which shouldn't make sense since a growing number of Americans are struggling to make ends meet due to record inflation.

Elizabeth Harrin of Rebel’s Guide to Project Management was concerned by this rising trend and said:

We were surprised to see that employees are working over the equivalent of a month’s effort on average – for free, and above and beyond their normal hours. We’ve moved beyond quiet quitting and the power is back with employers. What was once considered personal time has increasingly been ceded to employers. The dynamics of work are changing again, and that has implications for managing burnout, fair compensation practices, policy, and more.

If you find yourself unable to unplug from work long after you clocked out, read below on what you can do to ensure the time you spend at home is on resting, recharging and, more importantly, on yourself.

Reclaim Your Time

According to Harris, these seven steps will help workers take those much-needed steps away from their jobs and recalibrate their work/life balance.

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1. Track Time: Log your work hours to identify patterns of unpaid labor. Use this data to discuss workload with your employer, and negotiate fair compensation for overtime hours, especially when taking on roles that extend beyond the typical workday.

2. Set Boundaries: Clearly define work hours and stick to them. Use your out of office message to let people know when you will next be available, and don’t download work apps to your personal phone.

3. Prioritize Ruthlessly: Focus on tasks that align with key project goals. If it's not critical, delegate or defer it.

4. Leverage Technology: Automate repetitive tasks and learn how to use all the features of project management tools to streamline workflows.

5. Communicate Efficiently: Opt for asynchronous communication when possible to avoid unnecessary meetings. Use AI assistants to summarize meeting takeaways and create minutes.

6. Educate Yourself: Understand the labor laws and regulations regarding overtime. Know your rights and when to seek guidance.

7. Lead by Example: Don’t expect colleagues to work uncompensated overtime.  Manage your own hours and advocate for employees and peers for fair compensation.

You can read more about this study HERE.

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