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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 22, 2017 1:00 am

Calling after hours hurts morale: Poll

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

More than half of American professionals might be feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their jobs.

Guess who's at least partly to blame?

Managers.

After-hours contact from supervisors to employees is causing some concern, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a Chicago-area outplacement firm.

Nearly 83 percent of supervisors said they would reach out to employees after hours, with 28.6 percent of respondents expecting a response within a few hours, according to a study the firm conducted among 150 managers.

Nearly 49 percent said that while they would reach out after hours, they would not expect a response until the next workday, though. Only 17 percent of respondents said they would postpone contacting an employee until the next workday, according to study results released Oct. 12.

Most of the contact after hours is digital, with nearly 80 percent of managers stating they would use email or text message, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said. Forty-two percent would call their subordinates, while nearly 25 percent would use social media or chat software to contact their employees.

“Smartphones, email, FaceTime, and text have all streamlined communication, with exponential benefits to employers, customers, and clients. However, these technological advantages also weaken the boundary between work and home life, adding to the feeling of burnout,” said Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Even though almost half of respondents said they wouldn't expect a response until the next workday, most employees feel the need to answer their bosses in a timely manner, worrying about it until the issue is handled,” Challenger said.

“This constant pressure not only negatively impacts morale, but also likely results in subpar work, as workers feel they are constantly on call, with no real downtime.”

Mixed sentiments

There's always a flip side, it seems.

Last week I shared input from two authors, Michelle Joy and Jody Foster, who offered tips to help employees empathize with their supervisors – partly by doing a little self analysis of themselves.

Joy and Foster suggested nearly 3 out of 4 workers consider their boss the worst and most stressful part of their job.

On National Boss Day, Oct. 16, Robert Half International shared results of a survey that suggested about 8 in 10 professionals polled felt at least somewhat confident in the ability of senior management to grow the business, provide sound financial stewardship and drive innovation.

Doesn't sound like those professionals are stressing. But there's still some discontent.

Roughly 1 in 5 workers expressed concerns, including a feeling their firm's senior leadership doesn't value employees' career and personal advancement.

One tip to help avoid the disconnect: managers should take a genuine interest in employees. Talk to them about their career goals and “what keeps them up at night,” the firm said in the release.

“You can only address their motivations and concerns once you know what those are.”

The survey included responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 or older employed in office environments.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.