It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Thursday night. A client has just sent you an urgent message, and you really want to get your team working on a solution now. Since everyone has 24/7 access to email, texts, and social media messages through their smartphones, getting in touch is a snap. But should you?
It’s a dilemma many business owners are faced with today. Finding the right work-life balance is a major concern for an ever-growing number of employees – but as the owner, you also have the needs of your business to consider. And with the lines between personal friends, work friends, and online friends so blurred, it can also be hard to know when it’s appropriate to connect, and when it’s not. So what are today’s ground rules when it comes to connecting with your employees during off hours? Here are the three most important ones.
1. Make sure everyone knows what’s expected.
There are some businesses where after-hours contact is not just a possibility, but an integral part of the job – and that’s fine, as long as everyone is aware of that fact.
Whether it’s an ongoing need to keep an eye on emails through the weekend in case something comes up, or simply a position where 24/7 texts are part of the deal, as long as employees know what to expect then no one should complain.
The problems begin when employees who aren’t expecting after-hours work start getting work messages during this time. Asking for a quick response to a texted question may not seem like a big deal, but if it comes unexpectedly at an inopportune time, it can cause resentment. No one wants to be that parent running out of their kid’s recital to take a call from work – but the fear of what would happen if they didn’t often makes the decision for them. By preparing employees in advance for the possibility of after-hours contact, they won’t feel blind-sided by it if you do send that text.
2. Stay professional, no matter what.
Sure, it may be Saturday morning. And sure, you may be pretty good friends with your employees. But when connecting with them during their off hours, it’s important to keep your messages and your demeanor professional. Whether you’re asking them to do some last-minute work on a project via email, or just commenting on a picture they posted on Facebook, always remember that you’re their boss.
Anything that would be considered inappropriate in the workplace – from an off-color joke to a political rant – should also be considered off-limits after hours. Otherwise, you could be looking at reactions ranging from embarrassment or anger, all the way to a lawsuit.
3. Don’t go overboard.
Everyone needs downtime. And even though a quick email or text only takes a few minutes, the intrusion of anything work-related into personal time can make employees feel like they can never fully unplug. That affects not just employee morale, but also their productivity at work.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your after-hours messages to a minimum. Even too many casual social messages via Facebook can make your employees feel like their boss is always watching. Necessary work messages, yes. Friendly, professional comments and likes on social media, yes. But always be sure your employees are getting the personal time they need to really recharge.
Not only will your employees thank you for following these three ground rules – so will your bottom line. When your team knows what to expect after hours that your messages will always be professional, and that you understand the value of their personal time as much as they do, they’ll be happier and more productive while at work – and so will you.
About Shama Hyder
Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015. LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Shama Hyder to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Shama Hyder is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Shama Hyder. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation