Thursday, August 28, 2008

True Hourly Wage

If you've read Your Money or Your Life, then you should be familiar with the concept of your true hourly wage. In a nutshell, it is a number that takes into account all the additional time related to your job that reduces your on-the-books hourly wage. For example, let's say you are paid $10 per hour at your job and you work 8 paid hours a day for a total of $80.

But maybe it takes you a 30 minute commute each way to get to and from your workplace. Thus there is actually 9 hours of your day related to work, 8 working and 1 commuting. So to calculate your true hourly wage you take the amount of money you make each day and divide it by the total time related to your job. For our example, $80 divided by 9 hours give a true hourly wage of $8.89 per hour.

This process also works in reverse and it is to that situation I will turn my attention. I work at an inbound call center that has low to medium call volume. So during an 8 hour shift I might only be taking calls and doing tasks related to that job for 5.5-6 hours while the rest of the time is spent waiting for calls to come in. If we take the same on-the-books wage of $10 per hour, this works out to be a true hourly wage of $13.33 per hour.

This worked out very well for myself and other students as we could do homework and read our texts between calls. Unfortunately, due to a security breach in a different department, that privilege was taken away from us. That kind of sucked, but at least we still had the internet to surf between calls.

No longer.

In one fell swoop, this action pissed off many people and reduced job satisfaction since now people are extremely bored between calls. There has been talk of filling up between call time with other call center related duties so that you are being paid for what the center wants you to do. From a business perspective, I can understand not wanting to pay employees for non-work related activities. However, what this does is reduce employees' true hourly wage. If those 2 hours are filled with other duties, then employees will be making less per hour worked, plus they will be doing more work. Such a situation is not good for morale.

So I face a bit of a quandary in that I am essentially working at a place that has transitioned from one where I could pursue my own interests between calls, thus being personally productive to one that I am pretty bored at. I am faced with the decision to move on and use that extra time to be productive, yet lose out financially or stick with it and dislike the work environment.

My initial thoughts are that I will stay since I plan to only be there for another year or so anyways and to use the dollars made for the very specific purpose of a new car and a house down payment rather that just having that money be a nice extra in our accounts.

Lessons learned:
1. Don't take for granted what you have as it can be taken away at any time.
2. Defining goals for your dollars can make other parts of your life acceptable/tolerable.

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