When employees are “always on”—meaning they check work emails and communicate with co-workers/supervisors via smartphone during all hours—they can begin to feel overwhelmed.
Although employers may see the “always on” employee as highly productive, the constant state of being readily available can leave employees feeling exhausted. To combat this struggle, employers can take a few steps to ensure their employees aren’t facing burnout:
- Elect to simplify the workplace and clearly outline expectations of employees during non-working hours.
- Implement more flexible workplace standards encouraging employees to take time off and teach employees how to prioritize the constant flow of work. Employees inundated with information overload will benefit from streamlined information that is easy to understand and apply.
- Teach employees how to delegate tasks and help employees learn new skills to manage their time so as to decrease the sense of a “workaholic” environment.
- Outsource tasks to free up employee time.
- Direct supervisors to not send employees emails or message employees after standard working hours so as to put employees more at ease and not feel the pressure to be “always on.”
As a note of caution, employers must remember that nonexempt employees must be compensated for time spent checking emails and communicating outside normal working hours unless such time spent falls under the de minimus rule (minimal amounts of time that are difficult to record). The U.S. Department of Labor has stated that when there are uncertain and indefinite periods of time of a few seconds’ or minutes’ duration, that are beyond the scheduled work hours, the time may be disregarded as de minimis.
And don’t forget, the application of any new or existing workplace policy must be applied consistently and without discrimination throughout the workforce. Documenting it makes it clear for all employees and able to be referred back to.
This blog post was adapted from a Q&A by ThinkHR, a live HR hotline and compliance dashboard powering the UST HR Workplace for nonprofits. Learn more here.