Salaried Overtime Is Equivalent to Net Worth Equity
In criticizing one of my former articles about me never working overtime because it never gets you recognition, I thought, well, what if it does? Can overtime worked in a salaried position be equated in some way to actually earning more down the road? I started to think of the concept as "overtime equity" since you don't get to see the benefit directly in the form of cash, as you would as an hourly employee. Your value as an employee goes up relative to the cost that the company paid to originally hire you, much in the same way that a house appreciates in value and you can borrow against the additional value, or see your net worth go up accordingly. The additional time you put in is instead invested into a pseudo bank account where the currency is approval by your superiors, a threshold that accrues to a raise, and more work getting done.
As I have iterated before, I am of the general opinion that if you are a regular overtime worker, in a salaried position, you're not managing your time effectively. According to this article you can see that although productivity in the workplace has been on steady incline over the last four decades, wages haven't increased in direct proportion to the additional work being done. Much of this is due to streamlining processes and the widespread utilization of best practices on a global scale. Mechanization and effective managing techniques have made our jobs easier across the board, and a result is that we're able to be more productive because of it. It makes sense that wages wouldn't go up because our jobs got easier - even though more work is getting done in less time. So if you decide that you'd like to earn some equity in your salaried job, I have two key points to ensure you aren't taking your extra half hour a day and flushing it down the toilet:
1.) Get noticed.
This can be tricky in and of itself, because it requires consistency and brown nosing, but not too much for it to be obvious. One easy method of being consistently noticed is to shift your regular work day to longer than that of your boss (be careful not to make them look bad, though). You show up before your boss/ coworkers, and go home after they do. If your work environment is one of the non-flexible types, in practice this could be as simple as getting there 10 minutes before 8, and leaving 10 minutes after 5, but doing so every day is what actually gets you noticed. Showing up once or twice during the week before your superiors isn't going to get brought up in a performance review - but doing so every day almost certainly will. It can backfire if you don't follow the next step, however.
2.) Get more work done.
I've worked with guys before that latched onto the "show up early, leave late" concept like a fly on shit. It got them noticed, alright, but not in the way you would like to be noticed. I became aware of this during a discussion with a manager several rungs of the ladder higher than my direct report-to, and I mentioned that from my perspective, "Work Late Bro" was a pretty solid dude. I didn't have much involvement in his daily activities, so I didn't see beyond the surface level of him getting to work before me and leaving after I did. When I told triple-boss man what I thought, he promptly replied, "He's inefficient." He said that he actually appreciated that I got my work done and didn't have to show up early or leave late in order to get it all done. This guy apparently did. His responsibilities were different, but the umbrella of workload was the same for both of us.
Here I was thinking he was going above and beyond, and that wasn't the case. He just worked slower and screwed around more than I did.
In order to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that your superiors think you're awesome for working longer hours and not actually being in their good graces, make sure you go above and beyond in terms of responsibility. Ask for more work once in a while so they know you're a go-getter and you stay late.
If you ignore either of those two ideas while working more than your job description says you should, then you will be putting in more hours and getting nothing out of it. You might even fall out of someone's good graces, if you are interpreted as lazy and requiring more time to get a job done that someone else could do in less time.
As you consistently deliver more work to the company, and aggressively work longer hours, your buffer of approval will rise little by little. This buffer eventually cashes out in the form of a raise, bonus, or promotion. You can't see the buffer growing, just in the same way you can't see a real estate property sprouting dollar bills when it appreciates relative to your original investment.