WHAT IS AT STAKE?
In a recent countrywide Canadian survey by Insights West, 56
per cent of respondents said that work is either “probably” or “def-initely”
taking precedence over their lives and more than a third
reported that work was following them around when they were
with their families or friends. Indeed, in a world of smartphones
and non-stop connectivity, it is getting increasingly difficult for
employees to step away from their emails or workplace chat apps
outside of usual business hours. This can lead to unpaid overtime,
which, often coupled with an increased level of workplace stress
and workload, may result in burnout, anxiety or depression. No
wonder the new right to disconnect proposal is supported by four
out of five Canadians working full-time. That’s an impressive pro-portion
of the working population.
The million-dollar question is: Will the right to disconnect
law improve the health and wellbeing of workers? Will it have an
impact on their engagement at work? What’s more; how will the
law be interpreted in companies and positions where employees
are required to be online even outside of regular working hours?
On the one hand, the answers lie in the nuances of the potential
future regulation. On the other, it gets back to whether the prob-lems
in a work setting are the results of deliberate organizational
policies or are they a breakdown in management practices.
THE IMPORTANCE OF JOB DESIGN
One of the primary management tools that can reduce the harmful
effect of the always-on work culture is job design. It requires orga-nizing
the daily tasks, systems and support structures around jobs
so that employees feel a certain level of control, identity, auton-omy
and significance. It also includes the questions of job variety,
the establishment of a well-functioning feedback culture and the
arrangement of interdependence between colleagues.
The way a job is designed has a huge impact on the interference
of work on the personal life – and the interference of life events on
work – but also the mutual enrichment of both spheres. If tasks
are not allocated efficiently among coworkers and one job contains
a lot of responsibilities, this employee will be overburdened and
most likely will have to work beyond their regular working hours.
“Right to Disconnect” legislation can
increase employees' work-lift balance
NOW IS THE TIME TO START THINKING ABOUT
The right to disconnect law may sound like a very simple con-cept,
one that only requires the ability to make sensible decisions
and be reasonable, but it has proven arduous for many European
companies to implement in practice. Failure to do so could lead to
disputes, or in the most extreme cases, lawsuits.
Even though legislation has yet to be adopted in Canada, there
are many simple steps organizations can already take to determine
if they could benefit from a right to disconnect policy. Start by
pondering over the following questions: How are electronic com-munication
devices used by your staff? Do you work at a company
that doesn’t generally expect its employees to reply to after-hours
and weekend emails? Do you receive or have to reply to late night
texts? Even without such legislation, minimizing the risk of
employees experiencing burnout or sustained stress due to over-connectedness
will benefit them and the entire organization. n
Zoltan Vadkeerti is the executive director of The WorkLife Hub.
ONE OF THE PRIMARY
THAT CAN REDUCE THE
HARMFUL EFFECT OF
THE ALWAYS-ON WORK
CULTURE IS JOB DESIGN.
26 ❚ DECEMBER 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL