From CNN — "In Portugal, it's now illegal for your boss to call outside work hours."
From the Antiwork subreddit — "Just a friendly reminder, if your boss texts you to come in at a time you were not scheduled to work, you are not obligated to answer the text."
In Portugal, it is indeed now against the law for an employer to contact its employees via phone, email, or message outside of the employee's regular working hours. Violations are considered a "serious" offense punishable by fines.
Meanwhile, over on Reddit, the "Antiwork" subreddit is going viral with tales of employees who have quit their jobs. If you start scrolling, one theme will keep repeating — bosses that do not respect employees' personal time.
I'm not suggesting that the U.S. needs a law that comes anywhere close to a law that prohibits employers from contacting employees off-hours. But, we as employers cannot ignore that we are in the midst of The Great Resignation, or The Great Reshuffling, or whatever you want to call it. Employees are quitting their jobs at record numbers, and this Reddit thread offers some great insight as to why.
To be sure, lack of respect for personal time isn't the only reason employees are resigning en masse. Other reasons include low pay and safety concerns. Moreover, the work-life balance issue isn't one that's easy to fix. With more and more employers having vacancies they can't fill and shifts they need to fill, their options are either cutting production or operating hours (which impacts the bottom line) or asking current employees to work more. The latter is certainly the easier and more palatable of the options. The key, I believe, is communication. Ask, don't tell. Set expectations with employees as to the need for extra hours and get their buy-in. Consider some additional financial incentives for the extra work. Understand that sometimes personal issues might get in the way. And, also understand that the pandemic has changed a lot of things, including the relationship between employers and employees.
There is no easy answer to any of the issues The Great Resignation raises. But, as is the case with most issues that arise at work, communication goes a long way towards a solution.