Boundaries in the Workplace
Message presented by Gail for SMORE Class at Calder Baptist Church, February 19, 2012
Do you have enough confidence to protect yourself at work? Not from sexual harassment, racial or age discrimination, but from your own vulnerable boundary lines. Do you have the courage to set boundaries where you spend probably more than forty hours a week?
This can be problematic for single mothers who are head-of-household with children to support. Maybe you don’t want to rock the boat. Maybe you have limited job skills and need to hold on to this job. Or perhaps you do not fully realize your own value.
When I was a young woman my dad told me when you go to interview for a job you must convey, “If they don’t hire you they are making a mistake.” I learned that I had value as an employee. And yet I was terrible at establishing personal boundaries on the job. My eagerness to please, to overcome all challenges, and to leap obstacles with a single—year of staying overtime more often than necessary—was a recipe for burnout. I once had a job I called “Jaws.” As I told anyone who would listen, “It will open up and swallow me if I let it.” I’ve never known an employer to tell an employee, “You are doing too much. Slow down. Take it easy.” There are two sides of a balance and you must carry your responsibility for balancing your end. The best time to set job boundaries is when you take the job, before you ever show up for work. Ask questions about your responsibilities. Insist on a clearly written job description. Know going in what is expected of you. As an employee you are entering into an agreement to exchange your time and skill for a paycheck.
You should be honest and realistic with yourself about how much time and energy you have for the time you will be on the job. Fulfill your responsibilities, but do not over extend yourself.
According to Drs. Cloud and Townsend in Boundaries,
If you are in a situation in which you’re doing lots of extra work because you ‘need the job’ and because you are afraid of being let go, you have a problem. If you are working more overtime than you want to, you are in bondage to your job. You are a slave, not an employee under contract. Clear and responsible contracts tell all parties involved what is expected of them, and they can be enforced. Jobs should have clear descriptions of duties and qualifications.
You have the right to feel safe on the job. Many laws are in place for that purpose. Do you have the courage to set personal laws at work for the safety of you and your children’s home life?