office hours

Please Don’t Text Your Employees at 9 p.m.

Photo: Getty Images

In an otherwise fairly innocuous interview with the New York Times last week, Barstool Sports CEO Erika Nardini revealed that she perpetuates one of the many terrible manager behaviors that drive workers to feeling undervalued and overworked. When asked about her hiring process, Nardini said this:

Here’s something I do: If you’re in the process of interviewing with us, I’ll text you about something at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Sunday just to see how fast you’ll respond.

How fast does Nardini need you, a prospective employee with enough BS on your plate, to respond? Within three hours. “It’s not that I’m going to bug you all weekend if you work for me, but I want you to be responsive,” she said. “I think about work all the time. Other people don’t have to be working all the time, but I want people who are also always thinking.”

You’d be hard-pressed to find one person who has not had a boss who regularly texts them or contacts them outside work hours, but there is no reason — outside of a real, pressing work emergency — for it. Nobody gets paid enough to respond to work-related texts or emails after hours, especially if a manager feels responding to his texts will be proof of his employees’ loyalty.

In a 2016 New Yorker profile of Ford Foundation president Darren Walker, he described his kinder and more appropriate approach to being a boss:

He himself was uninterested in leisure. He worked every weekend, and he was out every night attending two, three, four, five events — panel discussions, parties, talks, dinners, galas — leaving one with an apology and a smile, leaping into a taxi, on to the next. But he had discovered that his staff needed time off from work, and became distressed and resentful when this time off was denied them, and that when he sent them an e-mail about something on his mind they felt obliged to respond quickly, and this was interfering with their ability to get properly rested before the new week began. Early on, he had talked excitedly in a meeting about some idea that had occurred to him, and then had been startled to find, a week or so later, a detailed report on his desk exploring the idea from several angles — a report that had undoubtedly taken someone, perhaps several someones, many days to produce. He realized then that his employees wished to please him and anticipate his wants, and that therefore a president should not be too spontaneous or promiscuous in his enthusiasms.

Instead of texting your employees (or prospective employees!) at 9 p.m. as a “test,” why not just let them live?

Please Don’t Text Your Employees at 9 p.m.