“Life Admin” Is it ok to get personal at work?

Sunday March 10, 2019

Written by Lee-Anne Hunt – The HR Dept Ringwood

On Friday I spent a good hour and a half on hold with a government department. During that time, I googled a little, replied to a few emails but I admit it was difficult to concentrate with that awful hold music and helpful messages about using their online services (which was the reason for my call; my online account doesn’t work)

It got me to thinking about life admin during worktime. And how much is ok?

We all do it. From a quick call to change an appointment with the dentist to lengthy searches on realestate.com. How much is ok? I polled a few people I know, and the average was between 3 and 7 hours per week. Not something I think most employers would want to hear and not something many employees would admit to.

So, is this a problem?

To some degree it depends on your job. If you are on the tools or in retail, hospitality, health/child care or any kind of customer facing role it would be obvious and very difficult to take time out to do any life admin while you’re working. And that would be a problem as your attention would be diverted and the appropriate care not taken.

So, I guess that leaves our colleagues in the office and behind their screens or closed doors furtively making a call or doing their internet banking.

Is it ok? What if those same workers start early, work back late or work though lunch to make up the time. Is it ok then?

I would have to say probably not. I’m not a fan of working through lunch as we all need a break. And I can say from experience that attention diverted to my personal life takes away more than just the minute or two it takes to make the call. It distracts me and takes away from the momentum of my work day.

So, what can we do? We could take a lead from Perpetual Guardian NZ and just acknowledge that life admin needs to happen and pay five days work for four days? They found that employees completed their work and were happier.

Or if that’s not possible do we consider implementing RDO’s, so our team know they have at least one day a month to get stuff done?

Or should employers be outcomes-focused (instead of micro managing) and be happy if the job gets done and only worry if it isn’t?

Or (at the risk of sounding like a penny pincher) should our employees work during work time and leave the life admin for after hours?

Interested to hear your thoughts. I figure there could be a little bit of give and take here as lets face it, not everything can be done out of hours and life happens, but it seems to me, just from those I’ve asked, that the pendulum may have swung a little too far in the ‘life admin’ favour.

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