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Let Your Employees Disconnect From Work After Hours

Let Your Employees Disconnect From Work After Hours

Carefully put a policy in place that specifies who can be contacted when, and for what.

It’s gotten to the point where Wellness Tourism’s a thing. Yep. Flush burnouts pay huge for primitive resorts where all devices – and any internet – are banned. What’s that tell you?

After hours intrusions on employees are rampant. 9:30 p.m., answer this text NOW. 6:15 a.m., I’m up, what about you, slacker (via Slack yet, oh the irony).

What, just cuz you’re a life-ducking workaholic your staff has to be enslaved? Unless you’re also a glutton for increased claims of stress-related illnesses, lawsuits for unpaid overtime, and bitterness among those who feel trapped into replying no matter when putting a disconnect policy in place!

Start By Figuring Out Who’s Essential To Be Reachable
Essential. Meaning: must be available to reply during specified times, after hours, to handle crises. Because if not (and a disaster hits) all hell will break loose.

So really, what kinds of work-related matters definitely must be dealt with off-duty? And who among your diligent, downtime deserving staff truly has to be reachable?

Obviously, certain situations require 24/7 presence or non-standard hours (being contractually on call, night shifts, flex-time). That ain’t this. It’s the non-emergency crap that can wait till tomorrow.

Make Agreements With The Chosen Few 
Speak with any folks you need available off-hours. Because responding after work is technically overtime. Unless this expectation was agreed to when the job offer was signed, ordering people now to expand their work day, sans added pay, is courting court cases.

You may have to sweeten the pot. And not by implying threats about refusing to buckle. Reduce the angst by mutually deciding on which hours are involved, messaging only when urgent, and giving reasonable timeframes for responding. 
Communicate It’s Ok To Be Unreachable
For staff not urgently required after hours, let ‘em know they’re off the hook. Also, tell management to stop being nocturnal pests (or dawn irritants). If they still insist on un-agreed-to communications, make it clear penalizing non-responders is verboten. 

Add a brief “right to disconnect” policy in the employee manual. Cascade this update to all staff. Mention it during orientation. Also, include wording in offers for future candidates who are expected to be handy longer.

Keep An Ear Open For Abuse
Some regular employees might make secret deals with managers for off-hour responsiveness. Maybe the boss initiates and says to stay hush. Or it’s the worker trying to gain a leg up.

Either way, the arrangement smacks unavailables unfairly. They’re the ones obeying policy, yet cheaters are being rewarded. So listen for complaints of being pressured to be on. Or of workers making sweetheart deals.

Reinforce that breaches here expose the company to legal and financial liability. Announce again that offenders could be disciplined (up to termination for cause) by disobeying. That ought to help quash unwanted texts, emails, calls or smoke signals. Score points by not waiting for unplugging laws to be imposed.