Canoeing, Napping and Cycling — Is This Acceptable?

Q: I work in a very casual technology company. Most
employees really put forth an effort every day and on every project.
There are a few who take advantage of our casual culture. They take
afternoon bike rides, head to the Charles to canoe for a few hours,
arrive at 10am and leave at 3pm. I even found one colleague asleep in
our employee lounge. Our CEO is a young, relaxed guy and very fair. He
trusts people, maybe too much. I will admit though we do fire
employees who are not meeting expectations. What are your suggestions
for addressing the folks who seem to take advantage of the perks within
my workplace?

A: More and more companies are moving to a very employee-centric
work environment. If employers are expecting employees to be available
during the evenings and weekends, employers are giving employees a bit
of extra flexibility during the week. With that said, most employees
are respectful and appreciative of such an environment. However, there
are some who take advantage of such flexibility. Many companies are
giving employees the option of working flexible hours if they can still
complete their work. Instead of watching when employees punch in and
punch out, managers are evaluating an employee’s productivity and
results vs. the actual hours worked. The real question is are they
getting their work done?

The managers of the employees who take advantage, may be observing
these behaviors too. Perhaps these perceived slackers are working
remotely until 1:00am on the tight deadline. Or they may have been
partying the night before at a local bar. You and I don’t know. You
have to trust your employees and their managers. However, if some are
taking advantage of that trust and not getting their work done, managers
should be addressing these concerns with the employees. It sounds like
some employees have been terminated for not doing their jobs well.
This is sometimes a necessary evil. This may be an encouraging sign —
that managers are monitoring performance and responding appropriately to
those who can’t effectively perform their job.

Kudos to your employer for building a trustful work environment. Most will respect it but some will not.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.