Respecting Work Boundaries

In recent years, standard practices and expectations in the workplace have evolved. It appears employees across all industries are setting hard boundaries with their employers—leaving work when their work hours end, taking their paid time off, and asking for compensation that reflects their worth. While older generations may perceive this movement as laziness, I feel these lines drawn in the sand are essential to anyone’s work-family-life balance.

I am reminded of my father when I think of companies infringing on employees’ personal life. Recently, he left a company that failed to recognize and respect the time at home vs. time in the office.

For example, say my father took paid time off to vacation in Hershey Park; regardless, he was still expected to engage with his work via emails and conference calls. In response, I would take the opportunity to lecture him about how working remotely still counts as work, thus defeating the purpose of time off.

Although he often cites Zoom and other technological advancements as the culprits for these blurred lines, my father was never over-compensated for his efforts; instead, the only thing that built up over time was the expectation that he was readily available, regardless of the situation.

These standards are exceptionally different from when my father first began his career. At the time, employees could only work when they were in the office. Truly, technology is a double-edged sword.

Employees are overworked, underpaid, and stressed beyond normal emotional, physical, and mental capacity. Employers have everything to gain while employees have everything to lose, and then some.

Take nurses for instance. During the pandemic, they were expected to work long hours in dangerous conditions. Did their pay reflect this level of risk?

In the absence of quality support and compensation, nurses could only sustain that degree of commitment and energy for so long. We are now facing one of the most pressing shortages of nurses our country has ever faced.

Employers need to understand that employees not only have lives outside of work, but that they have physical and emotional limits. Likewise, the recognition of these limits is not indicative of laziness.

I suspect this issue might see resolution if the government intervenes and passes legislation that prohibits employers from taking advantage of employees’ personal time.

In this day and age, I hope new employers keep mindful of people’s time and boundaries in the workplace as I am sure they know the feeling of burn out and underappreciation.

If the relationship between employers and employees do not change, worker shortages will continue to exist, thereby contributing to the nation’s looming economic crisis.