This year society at large has experienced tremendous changes in the public and private sphere when it comes to boundaries, consent, and respect. The impact of #MeToo is influencing media coverage, political campaigns, and, whether you realize it or not, the environment in your office.
More generally, as a business leader, you need to consider the importance of boundaries overall for your team.
There’s a reason you’re in a leadership position! You need to set the tone in your office and make sure everyone is comfortable and productive in the workplace.
How to establish boundaries in the workplace
Setting boundaries in your office sounds good in theory, but it is a little vague in practice. What does it look like in your daily operations?
Setting ethical boundaries in your workplace means preventing harassment, establishing company culture, and encouraging a healthy work-life balance for yourself and your team.
1. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for harassment
First of all, establish a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and harassment. Anti-harassment training is an essential part of creating a healthy company culture. It might not change the reality of harassment immediately, but it will give vulnerable members of your team tools to protect themselves. It sets a zero-tolerance policy from the ground up.
By protecting the members of your team with marginalized identities, you will encourage diversity and trust, which has huge benefits for your business long term.
Spell out clear consequences and enforce them. If your team knows that sexual harassment is and always will be unacceptable at your company, you will attract the kind of employees you want. A zero-tolerance policy also empowers your team members to set boundaries, which improves mental health and stress levels.
2. Define your company culture
You know that company culture we just talked about? It needs to be defined and communicated by you directly. “Be aware of your actions and make decisions within the framework of your values and principles,” says Nexa. “In doing so, you’ll showcase the importance of integrity, and your employees will follow suit.”
We’ve shared multiple ways to start building an influential company culture. “When you know your values, prioritize the right team, and improve communication, your startup will easily stand out from the competition.”
If you cultivate a company culture that is open and inclusive, your team will be comfortable coming to you with new ideas or feedback. This allows your employees to set boundaries with you and other executives. You never want them to feel disenfranchised or powerless to express themselves. Keeping communication open is one of the best things you can do to grow your small business.
3. Encourage work-life balance
This boundary is less interpersonal and more practical. Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s any less important! Founders of startups are at a huge risk for burnout, and it is due to a poor work-life balance.
Working hard is important, but if you want to acquire and keep top talent, you need to ensure your entire team has a balanced schedule.
Studies suggest 66 percent of full-time employees in the U.S don’t strongly believe they have a work-life balance. While 60 percent of those polled reported the most negative impact on their work-life balance was an overbearing boss, according to SmallBizTrends.
Don’t be that person! Respect your team and respect yourself by working hard at the office, and then leave work where it belongs–at work.
Don’t hesitate to create stronger boundaries in your workplace. Setting boundaries as a leader, and in turn, helping your team set boundaries can be difficult. However, the hard work is worth it.
By working vigorously to prevent harassment, cultivate strong company culture, and maintain a healthy work-life balance, you will set good boundaries for both you and your team.
Parker Davis is the CEO of Nexa, a leader in the virtual receptionist and technology-enabled answering services industry. Since 2015, Parker has been responsible for Nexa’s strategic vision, senior level management, and equity creation. He believes that the application of data analytics, investment in technology, and fostering a positive company culture together create highly efficient and scalable growth companies. He has an M.B.A from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame. Connect with @callnexa on Twitter.
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