By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM / Published March 2016
Editor’s Note: Part II of this article will continue in the April issue of FLCAJ.
Unlike in decades past, where we seemed better at compartmentalizing our lives with our work life kept separate from our personal lives, today, it’s more difficult to separate the two. In years past, you only made personal telephone calls on break or at lunch. You clocked into work at 8:00 A.M. and clocked out at 5:00 P.M. What was happening in your personal life was not shared to the degree it is today, with worldwide publication of your most personal thoughts, habits, and trials. We were not bombarded minute by minute with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram posts and the obsessive compulsion to respond immediately.
Today, we know where you ate dinner, went on vacation, and your political views. We can read your rants and bully remarks, which you obviously did not reread before you pushed “send.” Now not only do your friends know what you did last night and how you feel about it, but your co-workers and bosses know too. With instant communications and a more tolerant work environment in sharing personal things at work, employers and employees find themselves challenged to know where the line is drawn. Managers and business owners were asked within the context of this article “What do you do when personal life intrudes on business life?” They responded as follows:
Q. As an employer, do you have policies that address this type of issue? What do you expect from an employee who is struggling with family/personal, financial, or health issues?
Mariann Gerwig, CFO, GC, HI, Realtor, CAM, Carousel Development & Restoration, Delray Beach: We are a large company with normally more than 300 employees during our high season. However, we have always run our company with a “family” approach. Most large companies have a “check your personal problems at the door” attitude, but personal problems usually have an effect on work performance. At Carousel we have an open door policy, so our employees know they can come to their supervisor and let us know if they have a personal issue. Because of this, we can also give an employee the proper way of discussing something rather than distracting other employees by talking to them about such issues. If we can assist them in any way, we do, but, most of the time, they just need somebody to talk to. We feel if an employer does not have a way to address these situations, they are treating their employees like robots and not people.
Bernie Mapili, Mapili CPAs & Associates, Winter Park: Our firm has a “work complete” focus as opposed to a mandatory work hours perspective. We have weekly targets to achieve. If we can hit those targets, the time needed for personal time is open-ended throughout the week. Doctor appointments or what not can be scheduled at any time during the week.
Paul Brawner, CAM, Alliance Association Services Group, FCAP Member, Tallahassee: We had the standard employee policies that addressed vacations, sick time, time off, emergencies, etc. I also had a policy for transferring vacation and sick time from one employee’s account to another. I also was the first executive in my association to set up remote access so an employee who had to be at home or the hospital for a family member could log in and access their computer for work. I would determine the items they could work on remotely and finish within a reasonable time. I could track the login and logout times and credit that time to their work schedule, minimizing the amount of vacation or sick time they used from their accounts. Over a three year span, I had two staff members who experienced severe family issues that had a profound impact on their work schedules. The policies and strategies we implemented made a huge difference for them and the company.
I was always very clear with employees that if they had personal issues they needed to address them immediately, and avoid as much as possible letting it slip into the workplace. If it was becoming too much and impacting their work, they needed to let me know, and share as much detail as they felt comfortable, so I could help them as much as possible. I was very clear that I needed them, and that I would do all I could to help them. But, at the same time, I expected them to be mindful of their responsibilities to the company. They had a job to do and needed to make sure they did all they could to get the job done.
Matt Kuisle, PE, Reserve Advisors, Tampa: First and foremost, I expect the employee to take care of his/herself and/or family. After that, my biggest expectation is good communication. Understanding when coverage will be needed is paramount for a manager. Employers need to have confidence in which jobs or tasks can get done and which will not get done and need to be reassigned or otherwise handled. This becomes difficult to predict in certain situations, so I depend on employees to have frequent, honest communication with myself or their manager to evaluate how their situation is affecting their work performance or availability.
We offer paid vacation and personal time off as well as unpaid leave in accordance with federal laws. This time off allows employees to focus their time where it is needed, without the added stress of potentially losing their job. As an employer, I would expect an employee to take advantage of this benefit time if they are unable to fulfill their regular job duties.
CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, AMS (Central Florida): The work ethic used to be quite different than it is now, but I pretty much expect my employees to be very serious about their priorities when it comes to being at work mentally as well as physically. I do not get involved with hearing about their personal lives, but when something serious comes up, we try to work it out with flextime hours so they can deal with it away from the business. It seems so difficult for them with family and friends so close; texts, e-mail, and phones at their hips.
We have just revised our employee manual. Cell phone usage has evolved into taking up so much time the policy now states that cell phones are not to be used at work except on breaks. Excessive use is grounds for dismissal after warnings. This is tricky because those same cell phones are used for maintenance requests given by, and followed up on, by texts.
Dan Gleason, CAM, CFCAM, Gleason Association Management, FCAP Member, West Palm Beach: When I worked for corporations as Director of Operations, I developed a flexible leave time program. The region was heavily tied to family so births and deaths had a major impact on absenteeism. Key employees taking time off to deal with matters negatively affected the on time delivery of projects. Such events could have resulted in liquidated damages that would have hurt profitability. Since the culture was not going to change, I determined a method for controlling the absences. It was easy to get the employees (both male and female) to buddy up. That is, if an unforeseen death occurred, the buddy covered for the missing employee.
Further, I allowed up to 10 days of paid unscheduled leave time provided I got notice and the buddy was on board. The births were easier because of the notice. The factors that affected the business were the surprises. The leave time eliminated the surprises and ended our profitability threats.
Steve Kirschner, Mediator/CPA, Boynton Beach: I have always tried to view the employer—employee relationship as a partnership. As long as an employee does not take advantage and I can “work around” it I will.
Gary Gamache, Clermont: I have an “Employee Handbook” that states employees are not to use or open Facebook or any other social media sites during work hours or on my computers. I try my best to show sympathy for anyone with personal or health problems. I made it clear that if an employee needed something, to ask. The answer may not always be yes, but ask anyway.
Betsy Barbieux, Cam, CFCAM
Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. For more than 15 years, Barbieux has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Barbieux is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, (352) 326-8365, or www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.