Set clear expectations around communications
For many employees, the weekend may no longer be a respite from work, according to a survey by Right Management.
More than one-third (37 per cent) of workers regularly get weekend emails from their boss who expects them to respond, found the survey of 600 Canadian and American workers.
Another one-third (31 per cent) reported getting such emails from time to time, while 32 per cent said they never receive work-related emails on during the weekend.
“For a growing number of workers, their weekend is no longer their own and work is never far from their mind,” said Michael Haid, senior vice-president of talent management at Right Management. “Being tuned in to work seven days a week may become the norm, if it hasn’t already.”
Workplace technology has enabled a more 24-7 work environment. It is unclear whether this is symptomatic the high-pressured volatile economy or just the new business-as-usual workplace, said Haid.
“Having this type of ‘on demand’ technology, reaching anyone at any time, definitely reshapes the thinking on what might constitute work-life balance as work life and private life may no longer exist as separate spaces,” he said.
Managers would be wise to make sure expectations around communications are well understood, said Haid. If the work environment calls for employees to be in touch around the clock, then it’s important everyone shares that same understanding. But if a manager simply does his own work on the weekend because that’s what works for him, he needs to let employees know it’s OK for them not to respond during their down time, said Haid.
“Part of resetting expectations for those who do fully expect weekend participation in work through technology is to allow a counterbalance for employees so that they may attend to personal things during the course of what used to be considered the ‘normal’ working hours and days,” he said. ”If you expect your employee to work mid-morning Sunday then it is highly advised that you repay that time taken somewhere else in the traditional work week, say for example allowing that same employee to take mid-morning Wednesday to attend to personal things.”
The key is flexibility with time across the entire week, otherwise employers add to the risk of employee burnout, lowered morale and reduced productivity in the longer-term, said Haid.