Why You May Need a Standard Response Time Policy

As you pour your effort into managing your workforce, maximizing your productivity, and getting the most out of your worker’s time and attention, you may be encountering some of the problems listed below, especially in an age of digital communication and constant connectivity. Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. Your customers leave a comment on a social media page or deliver an email to a company inbox, and later get upset when the message isn’t answered within an hour/day/week/minute.

  2. Your employees are expected to answer emails and address work related issues within minutes, regardless of the time of day. Answers are expected on the same schedule at 10:00 am on Wednesday as they are at 8:00 pm, 3:00 am, or Saturday morning.

  3. Your workers don’t exactly know this. So while some of them respond immediately, others casually wait to answer messages until business hours recommence. Naturally, the eager responders resent the disconnected employees as slackers. And the disconnected resent the eager responders as suck-ups.

  4. Your employees take vacations, but some of them don’t actually disconnect from the office during their down time, which leads to burnout and overall reduced productivity.

  5. You know that some of your non-exempt employees are answering messages while off the clock, but you don’t know who, how often they’re doing it, or how to measure this time and pay them for it.

  6. If any of these problems are holding back your morale or causing confusion in your workplace, it’s time for a standard response time policy. Consider implementing a clear, standardized policy– in writing—that lets employees know exactly when and how often to stay connected to the office. Make sure your policy accomplishes the following:
  • The policy should be tailored each employee’s position, level, and exempt status. The employee should receive the written policy on her first day, as part of her formal job description.
  • The policy should clearly dictate when it’s time to stay in touch and when it’s time to completely disconnect. Clear consequences should exist for employees who complete work while off the clock or on vacation. And likewise, clear consequences should be in place for those who don’t respond within a set time during established work hours.
  • Customer response times should also be standardized. When customer messages can’t be answered by a primary respondent, the task should be handed off temporarily so responses can be delivered on an uninterrupted schedule.

For more information on how to establish a standard response time policy that’s measurable, enforceable, and fair, reach out to the Des Moines staffing experts at the Palmer Group.