What If an Employee Refuses to Answer Emails in the Evening?

Nick Corcodilos, who writes at Ask the Headhunter, tackled a question from a reader who wanted to know if he was unreasonable for expecting to only work during business hours. Corcodilos comes down firmly on the side of the employee who wants to have some semblance of work-life balance by turning off his email in the evening. He writes:

In my opinion, people who walk around with “I work evenings, too” tattooed to their foreheads are dopes begging to be abused. Good for you for saying no. There’s nothing impressive about projecting “I’m proud because I work for my boss all day long!”

If you want to leave that interviewer with the right impression about your dedication to your work, try this:

How to Say It

“I’ll do all the work necessary to help my company be successful while I’m at work. I’m proud of that.”

It’s up to your boss to give you the right work to do, and it’s up to your boss to define, organize, and manage your workload during work hours to ensure the company’s success.

Corcodilos has good advice and good ideas, but what if you’re the manager? What if you, yourself, are spending hours each night handling things, and having an employee who refuses to play along will increase your workload? Then what? Evaluate your employee’s request along these lines:

To keep reading, click here: What If an Employee Refuses to Answer Emails in the Evening?

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9 thoughts on “What If an Employee Refuses to Answer Emails in the Evening?

  1. As pointed out in the article, just because an email is sent after normal work hours does not necessarily make it urgent, requiring an immediate response.

  2. It took my first boss saying out loud that her late night emails didn’t require a response unless she said so (and she rarely did). I think for that to be effective it HAS to come from above.

    1. “Say it out loud.” Ditto!

      When I was managing people I always started an email request with – “no need to respond until the morning” (or Monday if I sent it over the weekend).

      On a funny note, I did have one employee jokingly say at one of our meetings: “So, you think we are actually reading your emails on the weekend?” Which I was kind of glad to hear that she felt at ease enough to joke about it; so, I knew that some would feel comfortable enough to push back if they felt the need to.

      I agree that many managers tend to forget that what they say has extra weight – even if they don’t intend it – and folks will jump because they think they have to.

      So, it does come down to clear communications and setting expectations.

  3. In France, there is a new law forbidding using emails outside of working hours. Of course it is to protect employees from bosses who would use email to make their employee work outside of regular hours.
    I am based in France and working in a worldwide team, from US to Australia, so it won’t really apply to me 🙂

  4. What Kathea says! I found that if I had a sleepless night and did emails at 3:00 am (intending that they’d be in someone’s inbox waiting in the morning) I was getting answers 5 minutes later. I had to specifically say, “I expect you to read emails in working hours only. I don’t expect you to answer anything I send in off hours. You don’t have to be sleepless just because I am!”

  5. I agree, just because someone is at office after working hours doesn’t necessarily mean he/she productive in the working hours or evening working at all, you know!

    However, the on who choose,on his/her own, to work after reaching home is a different story. This again is a dedication and auto suggestion individual thing. If you feel you should work on certain thing even after reaching home, and has not been told by your boss, then its still called work life balance cause you choose a time to work from home when you are done attending everything and everyone at home front!

  6. Honestly, I often prefer to answer emails at home. If it lets me leave a few minutes earlier to beat some of the worst traffic, that’s a big bonus for me! I can have a slightly easier commute, and then be home all nice and comfy and log in to spend that last 20 or 30 minutes reading and responding to emails. I’m not someone, however, who will usually be sending emails at 2 a.m.

  7. I don’t think the average employee should be expected to answer emails or calls after working hours. Is the person a Key Player, Executive level – then yes. But, not the rank and file.

    I am the HR Manager for my small business. If I am off work, the only people I answer to are the owners and CEO. If you call my house at 3am asking about your benefit package, then I am going to tell you to call back when I am at work. If you email me at my home asking about your paycheck at 10pm on Friday night, I will do what I can but most likely you will be told that I will call you back on Monday morning because the banks and payroll offices are closed. If you text me at 6am about your friend wanting to work here, I won’t respond until I get to work.

  8. I don’t like late night responses. Maybe because my emails usually require deeper analysis, investigation, or planning. Please don’t respond to a sheet of 1000 things that went wrong with a general answer an hour later in the evening. Put some effort into it for God’s sake. Edit the document or sheet. Notate specific customers and how you want them handled. That’s why I never expect or want night time responses.

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