Posted: by HRNasty in Climbing Career Ladder, Company Culture, Manage your Manager, What HR Really Thinks

Weekend Emails: Are you open for business or not.

Weekend Emails:  Don’t believe the hype:  

In the September 2011 issue of HRMagazine, there is a by-lined article that discusses the statistic that one in three employees receives work related weekend emails from their boss and is expected to respond. It also states that if managers don’t have to send weekend emails, they shouldn’t. I can’t even believe this topic was printed, let alone in this economy!!!  The article and advice comes from a study referenced here.

Disclaimer, this is written primarily for Corporate America employees. Those working in Start up’s usually work under a different mind-set.  Burn = Urgency

In the last couple of issues of HRMagazine, there have been a couple of articles that have gotten me pretty fired up.  Actually just plain pissed off. For those of you not familiar, HRMagazine is a monthly publication for HR Professionals, and most would consider “the” HR resource for HR professionals. It is published by SHRM.org which is the Society for Human Resource Management. Yes, I am a card carrying, certified, and tested member.

For the record, SHRM puts out a lot of great stuff, and is a resource I use on a regular basis. The site saves me a lot of legal fees and HR, myself included would all be a lot worse off without it.

That being said, I feel compelled to write. For those of you new to this blog, let me re-state for the record.  I know a number of really smart HR folks, but for the most part, I don’t care for a lot of HR people, their attitudes, or how they treat people.  (I am confident I offend a lot of HR folks). I started this blog to push a different point of view out there, and if you read further you are going to get an earful. I think a lot of HR folks are well intentioned, but they are living in a Pollyanna world and are naïve to society.  I call Bulls**t.

The unbelievable article reads:

” Managers need to set clear expectations about what really needs to be addressed over the weekend. And if items might just as easily wait until Monday, say so.  If you don’t have to send an email on the weekend, don’t send it. Create it in draft form and hit “send” on Monday morning. . .  Basically, employees should respond if the manager marks it as “urgent”. . . ” 

OMG!  Holy S**T.  Did I just read that? This is exactly why I don’t care for most HR attitudes. There are WAYYY to many variables for this to advice to go sour and at the end of the day, the employee and the company will suffer. And this is what they are evangelizing to the HR professionals?  The very folks that have the power to shape corporate policy and influence corporate culture?  Here is what HRNasty would say to weekend emails.

ANSWER THEM.  Same thing I say to ILLEGAL interview questionsANSWER THEM!  Don’t think twice, don’t bitch, don’t roll your eyes, or get exasperated. Just answer them.

Here is why I don’t care for this advice:

In my view, my job is to support my manager. We have all been hired by our managers to make their jobs AND lives easier.  If your manager is sending you an email on the weekend, they are

  • Probably of the mindset that there isn’t anything wrong with working on the weekend or
  • They really have work to do. They may have a deadline that YOU don’t know about.  They probably need your help.

Most managers became managers for a reason. They were promoted for a reason. They got results, they got shit done.  They made THEIR manager job easier. I bet they answered emails on the weekend.

I left Corporate America after 10 years for a technology start up, but am familiar with the mentality. In the above linked blog, I encourage you to answer illegal questions. Yes, answer them.  A lot of HR professionals are looking at me WHY?  They are asking “WHY promote bad behavior?” Because more than likely, the person asking the question probably doesn’t know any better, and isn’t doing it on purpose. At the end of the day, avoiding ANY question, will take you out of the running for a position. Sure, you can say, “I don’t’ want to work for a company that asks illegal questions, but I want YOU to decline the company under your terms, not have them decline you because you refused to answer an illegal question. I don’t want the company declining you because the person interviewing you didn’t know any better or the HR person didn’t explain the interview rules to the person conducting the interview.

You can change the hiring process from within the company, not from the unemployment line.

If my manager is sending me weekend emails on a regular basis, and I don’t answer them, what is going to happen?

Your manager is going to get into a habit of working on the weekend and NOT expecting a reply from YOU.  You are conditioning them to think negatively about your work ethic. When they hit the send button on a weekend email or anything after hours, their first thought will be “they won’t get to this till Monday”.

  • When it comes time for a special project that may require extra effort (or time on the weekend) , that project will go to someone that IS answering emails on the weekend and putting in the extra hours. (Special projects usually set you up for more opportunity, more money)
  • When it comes time to “re org” the company, you will have a strike against you vs. Special Projects Boy above.
  • When another manager comes to your manager asking about your performance, the response will be  “They are really dedicated, but I know your group works on the weekend. . . .”
  • In the least, the person that likes their job, will do everything they can to be the best they can. If you think your job sucks, you are doing everything you can to get away from it.  It is a poker tell.
  • You get the idea. . . .

I can already hear the reasoning:

  • “I talked with my manager when I was hired and they don’t expect me to answer emails on the weekend”.  (Trust me, the economy has changed this mentality)
  • My manager gets paid more than me. Of course they get paid more than you, they work more hours.  (if you want to get paid more, or even get paid, show more productivity in a 40 hour work week)
  • I have a family and work life balance is important to me. (I am all about work life balance, but let’s not bite the hand that feeds you.  In this economy, you need “WORK” to have work – life balance.)

As if the economy isn’t hard enough already. As if companies have a hard enough time making payroll. Here is a magazine catering to HR professionals encouraging folks to STOP WORKING and think twice about weekend emails. This is the Land of Opportunity.  Are you and American or an Ameri -can’t?  There are plenty of people out there who are not working that would be happy to answer those emails on the weekend. Are we going to say stop answering emails after 5:00 PM as well????   If you doubt it, read this and watch the documentary.  Am I in left field here?

I highly doubt that most managers are sending out weekend emails Saturday morning through Sunday night. Most managers are not working around the clock.  It isn’t going to kill anyone to answer a couple of extra emails. There is a technology out there called a smart phone people. Unlimited data plans and folks with blisters on their thumbs they text so much.

A few extra emails isn’t going to kill anyone. I am just saying. . .

Good Luck

HRNasty

Nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something.  “He has a nasty forkball”.

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  • Corey Davis84

    Im glad I dont have you as a manager. Obvously you have no understanding of workers rights. There is a fine line between what is expected and annoying the shit out of me.
    My boss is a huge offender of weekend emails. All I have to say is if I were salary no problem. I answer you at any time. Since I am hourly…fuck off! I am trying to enjoy what little time I wil have away from your ass. If you dont have a stipulation writen in my contract stating I must answere my phone off hours your shit out of luck.

    • Corey, you bring up a great point, and I am sorry, I should have made this clear.  This post is for folks who are on salary.  If you are hourly, and working on the weekends, you should be paid for that time.  I, like you believe that most managers do not understand this.   That being said, my goal with the blog is to give the reader, regardless of whether or not it is fair, what I see and believe happens BEHIND the scenes and I honestly don’t believe that all managers understand what should and should not be expected.  I think expecations are even more blurry if you are hourly.  I am NOT saying it is fair or right, I am trying to give folks insight into how some managers think and what employees don’t know about or see.  My point being that if you are hourly, and your manager is sending you emails. . . they may not know what can be expected, and regardless are thinking a specific way around their expectations of you and this topic. . .  and this is exactly why I am posting.  I am trying to arm folks with this insight because we are probably NOT going to change the opinions of these mangers.  

      Nasty