How to torture your employee by emailing on weekends

[Saturday, 12pm…]

Dear Employee,

I just wanted to send you this list of stuff that needs to happen this coming week. Please enjoy your weekend and don’t even think of starting this until Monday. I just wanted to put this on your radar so you can take care of it when you get into work. Hope you’re having a great weekend. Oh, and when you have a chance, can you also send me that document? OK, that’s it, have a great Saturday. And please remember to call so-and-so on Monday. Peace out. (and let me know if I left anything out on the list that you can think of)

Dear Boss,

Thank you for the company phone you gave me. I appreciate that it’s much lighter on my leg than the ankle bracelets paroled felons wear. You caught me at brunch with my friends. I was listening to a friend tell this really funny story, the punch line of which I missed because I turned to look at the bright email alert from you. I know all the parts of the story except the main reason it was being told. Afterwards we’re going to a movie where the list of stuff you sent me will be superimposed on my retina as I watch the moving images on the screen. But don’t worry, the fear of losing my job is the cushion on which I lay my head at night, so you’ll find that list of stuff done by the time I walk into the office Monday morning.

Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

You know when someone stands way too close to you while talking? This has the same effect. It’s an intrusion of space and leaves no room to breathe. Employees will always feel like they have to respond to their boss’ emails, no matter when they receive them, to give the impression that they are always on. Motivation, creativity, and drive are all depleting aspects of human behavior. When people feel like they always have to be on it only creates poor productivity results. Brains need time to rest and repair. Not allowing for brain repair through off time will only backfire.

Maybe Try This Instead?

If you have a need to plough through your to-do list on weekends, by all means do so. But send those emails out Monday morning. If something is urgent and requires immediate attention develop a system with your people that communicates urgency (whether it be a phone call, a subject line that says 911, or an emoticon of a fire truck). But always remember…YOU’RE THE BOSS! People WILL respond or at least feel pressured to do so. Control yourself, grasshopper.

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Nicole Lipkin, Psy.D., MBA is an organizational psychologist and the CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. She is the author of “What Keeps Leaders Up At Night” and the co-author of “Y in the Workplace: Managing the ‘Me First’ Generation.”