Please Don’t Text Your Employees at 9 p.m.
While this article is from 2016, it resonates with us as much today as it did then especially for family businesses. The intimacy of working in a family business creates a sense of camaraderie and community that is difficult to find in corporate life. While long-time employees talk about being part of the family business, there’s a clear division between working for the family business and being a part of the family. With our constant access to and connection with technology, achieving a work/life balance is becoming more difficult. There are benefits, of course, in having around-the-clock access to people and information, but in a 24/7 culture, it’s important to take responsibility for yourself and to create your own boundaries. In fact, in our consulting practice, many employees and leaders share with us the difficulties they have establishing and maintaining a work/life balance. While the article shares the thoughts of one manager, we wanted to share with you some tips to help managers and employees work toward obtaining a work/life balance.
We want folks to love their work and be passionate about it and do a great job, yet we all need to figure out balance and decide what is right for us. This involves conversations with your manager…
A test of employee loyalty or responsiveness should not be based on how fast employees respond to emails/texts after 9:00 pm or on weekends. Overall, as managers, think about the motives for why you’re requesting responses after hours or on weekends (is this stream of consciousness? is it on your brain and you just want to get it out there? or is it a truly an urgent need?)
Here are tips for Managers who text after hours/weekends expecting a response:
- If it’s truly critical to receive a response, let your employees know it.
- Look at the reasons you’re texting late or over the weekend…is it a result of you mismanaging your time? If so, take steps to prioritize how you work so employees don’t feel the need to respond immediately.
- Let employees know that this may be the time it’s easiest for you to play catch up…and that, unless it’s an urgent issue, they needn’t respond until the following day or when they’re back in the office.
- Understand the legalities of employee classification and the impact of responding outside of business hours. While there may be an expectation that employees in higher level positions respond at varying degrees throughout the evening and weekend, recognize that when texting hourly/non-exempt employees for work-related reasons, you need to make sure they’re getting paid.
Here are tips for Employees who feel the need to be responsive to a manager who is texting after hours or over the weekend:
- Ask if it’s urgent – If it’s not already stated by the manager, confirm whether it’s something you need to respond to immediately or if it can wait.
- Strike a balance – Manage yourself and allow yourself the time to decompress and unwind at the end of the day and over the weekend. If you have a high sense of urgency, this can be especially hard to do, but give yourself the opportunity to unplug as it helps you regenerate and improve your focus.
- Talk with your manager – If the expectation is to be responsive at off-peak times, initiate a conversation with your him/her to address your concerns and determine what, if any, actions can be taken to allow some breathing room.
Abbracci Group Blog
Keri Ohlrich, PhD is co-author of The Way of the HR Warrior, CEO and co-founder of Abbracci Group, an HR consulting firm on a mission to improve the environment of organizations which, in turn, enhances the lives of employees.