Who’s to Blame for Bosses Who Email on Weekends? Millennials.

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(This post originally appeared on PhillyMag)

Do you ever get emails from your boss over the weekend? If so, you should reply to them. If not, you could be risking your job.

That’s the takeaway from a recent study conducted by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. As reported in Econintersect, the firm surveyed 150 managers from across the U.S. and found that approximately 83 percent of them would, indeed, have no problem reaching out to their employees over the weekend (mostly by email and text) and almost a third (28.6 percent) would expect a reply “within a few hours.” Don’t panic yet: About half of the managers — like me — are OK to wait until at least the next work day for a response.

Welcome to 2017. Your boss’s day at the office doesn’t end at 5 p.m. And neither does yours.

It’s easy to point the finger at employers like me and say that this blurring between the boundaries of work and personal time is our fault, or the fault of corporate life in America today. But that would be pointing the finger at the wrong group of people. The people who are really to blame for this trend are the millennials — yes, those who were born in the ten years before and after 2000 and who now represent about 50 percent of the workforce.

Here’s why. A 2017 study conducted by software firm Qualtrics found that 76 percent of millennials would take a pay cut of at least 3 percent to work for a company that offers flexible office hours, and that number rose to 80 percent in another study from job search site Glassdoor. Another report from 2016 showed that those in the 25-to-35-year-old age range would be willing to give up an average of $7,600 in pay for “a better situation at the office,” including more flexible work hours. This generation, as the data shows, likes its time off. Good for them.

Some of those in my generation are frustrated with these changing dynamics. “Whatever happened to plain old hard work?” a 50-something business owner recently complained to me at a manufacturing conference.

It’s still there. It’s just that the millennial generation wants more balance. Most employers I meet, like myself, are adjusting to this reality. Some companies, like Netflix, are offering up to a year of paid time off for new parents. Others are even experimenting with unlimited-paid-time-off policies.  Most of the executives I meet don’t go to these extremes, but many have implemented more flexible work hours, work from home arrangements, and — in some cases — months of paid time for vacation, sick days, pregnancy, and infant care.  We want to attract talented people from this generation to our companies. We get it: You work to live and not live to work.

But with this flexibility comes responsibility. Sure, leave when you want, work from home, spend time with your newborn, be mobile, be independent. But if I’m giving you this flexibility, then I expect something in return. And that’s availability. You’ve got a smartphone or a tablet, Wi-Fi everywhere, and plenty of cloud-based tools to connect you from just about anywhere.

So please, if I email you over the weekend … don’t roll your eyes. Just respond. Otherwise, I may need to find someone else who will.

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