my employees keep contacting me when I’m off work

A reader writes:

I manage a staff of 18 who work varying shift times. When I’m out of the office, whether that’s due to vacation, illness, or just regular days off, my staff constantly contacts me. It’s mostly questions about things that could easily be handled by someone else in the building, management or not. Sometimes it’s something urgent, but rarely ever. And sometimes it’s at all hours of the day and night, like 3 a.m. to say they can’t make it to work in the morning, when there are clear guidelines on when they should contact me in that situation, which is at the earliest 6 a.m. Or they’ll contact me about schedule changes or switches, which is something I cannot do when I’m at home.

Our work can be very stressful, and it’s important for everyone (including me) to have time to decompress. I don’t feel it’s unreasonable to ask that I’m not contacted when I’m off, especially when other management is there to address the situation. Am I being unreasonable here? Do I have to answer their texts and calls?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • How can I shut down weight talk on my team?
  • Who should communicate a lay-off?
  • People who ask questions that were answered in the same email they’re replying to
  • When is a reference too old to use?

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