Every once in a while, I encounter a company where there are no limits in the mind of the owner regarding what an employee should do. It is rare, but I am always surprised that the situation exists. What am I talking about? Let’s view it two ways:

Employer’s Point of View: Since the employee is being paid by the company, and is typically salaried, the owner expects a response to his texts, calls, etc., close to 24 hours a day. Since the owner is consumed by the business, he thinks everyone else must be.

Employee’s Point of View: Even as a salaried employee, a person needs downtime to recover, get up, and do it all over again. Most people want to have a life outside of work.

Every day, there is this tension created by attempting to serve the needs of the employer and the company while sacrificing the employee’s well-being and family life.

What can be done to change this situation? The employer could have a flash of insight. That might happen. He finally sees the light and decides to put limits in place regarding communication availability. In my opinion, there is another way for that insight to be created: The employee needs to set limits.

The agreement about what a job entails should be re-negotiated between the employee and the employer. It is a two-way street, not one-way.

The employee could write down all that they are actually doing, including the differences between that and what they were hired to do as well as the circumstances that need to be in place for the employee to have a chance of being successful. Those circumstances would include when the employee wouldn’t be available to the company.

When running our company, we did a couple of things to show respect for our employees.

  • Accurate job descriptions were created and respected. The clearer to all the expectations were, the more likely everyone would feel successful.
  • No one was expected to work more than 45 hours a week. If someone “had to,” that meant the job description requirements were not realistic or the person was not the right fit for the job. Usually it was the former.
  • We expected people to have rich and active lives outside of working for us. That is what makes for happy employees and, consequently, happy clients.
  • We had regular reviews, both formal annually and less formal if the employee or we thought there was need to have one. By staying current it was less likely someone would get over-stressed.
  • We hired slow and fired fast. By making it difficult to secure employment with us, we were more likely to get the right people in the right seats on the bus. Paying attention to how the new employee was doing in the first weeks of employment let us know if they were a fit or not. If not, then we let them go sooner than later.

For an employer or employee to allow onerous circumstances to continue is unacceptable. The relationship needs to be mutually satisfactory.