Missed Target

European countries, Scandanavia in particular, are hailed for progressive attitudes toward work life balance and maternity leave. However, the labor minister in one of Germany’s populous states missed the mark.

Missing the point

Missing the point

He did so in an effort to hit the target.

Guntram Schneider, the labor minister for north Rhine-Westphalis is calling for an anti-stress law that would ban employers from contacting employees during out of office hours, even by email.

On first glance, this might seem like a good idea.

This was reported by the Rheinische Post this week. “The employer would no longer be able to contact the employee at certain times,” he told the newspaper.

Schneider is from the center-left Social Democrats, which promised after last year’s elections to improve the work-life balance of German workers. Good idea, too.

This German politician has the backing of one of Germany’s biggest unions, Verdi, who thinks there should be mandatory guidelines on emailing and contacting workers out of office hours.

Apparently this proposed regulation is in part a response to a survey showing that employees are finding it harder to switch off of work because of constant contact via smart phones.

It is great that these issues are gaining attention. Maybe that this helps set a tone, but to mandate this kind of action seems pointless.

How will it be enforced? What are the penalties? It could cause more stress if there is an emergency and you can’t be contacted.

Part of the onus has to be on the individual to draw personal boundaries of what seems reasonable within parameters.

Personally, being able to send of an email at 10 pm if I have just thought of something (with no expectations of a return email back) is useful.

Having the flexibility of being able to take an hour off to take my kid to the dentist helps me stress less, and so in return, answering an email at 7 pm is fine by me.

What stresses out one person may not stress out another.

Regulation and public policy has its place. So do ground-up cultural shifts. And so do enlightened CEOs and clever employees to change organizational cultures.

Sometimes it is hard to know what the right intervention is to hit target.

Photo credit:
Source: Digital Storm


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