This December, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) final rule updating white collar exemption qualification requirements will go into effect. Employees who meet certain criteria are eligible for overtime pay if they make less than $23,550 per year—under the new rule, this amount would increase to $47,476 per year.
Given the significant impact the new rule could have on employee satisfaction, developing an effective communication plan is key in aiding to reduce employee anxiety and stress by presenting the facts and informing them about upcoming changes.
Educate and Inform – What You Can Do
Determine who will be in charge of communication efforts. Depending on the size of your company and the scale of the changes, you may want to form a small group dedicated to managing communications. The group may include individuals from the marketing, public relations, human resources, accounting and legal departments as well as the executive team.
Educate department heads and front-line managers on changes. Employees may ask initial questions to their direct supervisors, so make sure these individuals are prepared and know how they can escalate questions if necessary.
To ensure that your message is reaching your employees, use a wide variety of communication platforms—including email, intranet postings, group or individual meetings, PowerPoint presentations and social media. When crafting your message, consider the following strategies:
- Explain the “why.” In addition to providing an overview of the new overtime rule, explain why changes are being made and how these changes will support the company’s goals.
- Be transparent and honest in your message. Don’t sugarcoat things, but try to be positive (even if benefits are being cut). Make sure to emphasize that each employee and the work he or she does is appreciated.
- Avoid legal jargon. Avoid getting into too many legal or technical details since this may confuse employees. Keep language simple and straightforward.
- Provide an FAQ. Consider putting together a list of frequently asked questions so employees have an easy resource they can reference for their questions. This may also help reduce the amount of emails or questions human resources professionals will get on the issue.
Many employees will view the loss of exempt level status as a demotion. This will be especially true if the classification change removes other perks or benefits that the employee is accustomed to. Implementing an effective communication strategy around these areas will be imperative to helping your employees navigate these upcoming changes prior to December 1st.