At Personnel Today, Mandy Rutter blames HR for the scourge of “always on” work, arguing that HR departments need to do more to make sure employees aren’t sneaking in work when they’re supposed to be off the clock:
HR has ducked the issue of whether or not checking a smartphone for messages is necessary, and employers are benefiting from the extra time and effort without recognising the contribution that employees are making. Managers are not considering the impact that there might be on employees’ psychological wellbeing in the longer term as they twitch from one buzzing message to the next. Employers need to do more to monitor the extent to which technology-related health problems, such as email addiction, already exist across the workforce. They should play their part in educating employees about the potentially addictive side-effects of using wearable technology for work, by creating resources and development workshops to alert staff to the risks and ways to reduce them. Rather than allowing negative working patterns to evolve of their own accord, employers should also strive to outline the capacity in which email is to be used and advise on suitable homeworking patterns and weekend access.
It might be hard for companies to stop looking the other way at employees doing extra work from home until there’s some solid evidence that this extra work is hurting productivity or the bottom line. On the other hand, once the new overtime rules go into effect next year, this after-hours business could definitely become HR’s problem if employees start logging it as overtime.