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Exempt Employees - Minimum Hours vs Productivity

When we talk about exempt employees, we often talk about how they are in a position which is considered exempt from paid overtime. However, when we hire these individuals, we hire them to get their job done, so if they do their exceed their job requirements and expectations in less than 40 hours per week, is that an issue? Do we need them to work a minimum of 40 hours per week, or do we simply expect that their job is being completed at the highest possible level in however many hours that takes?


Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |


It is what it is, and if you've moved to a role-success based system, then that's the metric. Even at the state/government level, they have moved to the point where you can go home when the work is done (exempt non-managerial individual contributors). There is generally no need what so ever to have people in the office 40 hours.

On the flip side, exempt employees very often work more than 40 hours, and don't get any overtime for it.

So, yes, we expect them to meet their goals in "however many hours". It cuts both ways.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Expect individuals to sit around when there is no work, after they have finished what is required also can have serious morale issues.

Do you (the employer) reward employees for extra effort? Is that reward at the end of the year or on shorter reward periods.

The concept of find work because I'm paying you has in my humble opinion been moved to the dust bin. Meet your expected goals, great! Exceed them, even better and you should be rewarded for that work.

It comes down to managing expectations, both the employer and employee.

(Controller) |

40 hours a week is not a real measure of productivity for white-collar jobs. Pay for productivity (quality is an element of that), not hours worked. Plus people so often work late or are on-call at all hours it's really not fair to be "expected" to be in the office at all hours unless there are "coverage" needs.


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