From service requests to company announcements, your inbox is constantly flooded with corporate messaging. The problem is that there’s so much of it, it’s beginning to take up valuable time outside of work just to sift through it all. Almost everyone has one email application loaded to their mobile devices — possibly more than one if you include your work and personal email(s) — so it has become almost impossible to shut out the business world.
Samanage surveyed 1,500 working U.S. adults, discovering that employees are checking their email at least one hour a day outside of work hours, totaling more than 30 days of extra work per year. Crazy, right?! That ends up being more days of email checking than actual vacation time.
So, how do you, as the amazing employer that you are, help combat this and avoid the email burnout of your employees? Here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Communicate realistic email response expectations
Help each new employee (and current employees) understand their job function and its critical (or not so critical) nature. Do they need to be available to clients outside of business hours? Is a strict 8am-5pm schedule enough? As a manager, if you are a night owl, warn your team that you may send emails late at night, but that they don’t need to respond to them at that time. You can’t prevent emails from being sent at all hours of the day/night, but you can make it clear when responses are required, helping your co-workers and teams stay on top of things without sacrificing their work-life balance.
- One in four respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 said they wake up very often to check work email (24.4 percent).
- One in four respondents (25.6 percent) said they check work email after hours because it helps them stay organized.
2. Determine if employees even need a mobile app for work
It’s hard to imagine not having email on your phone, but if it’s not required for work, why torture yourself? You know best what is required within your role. Do you need to be available outside of business hours? Or, could you simply check in once after work (on a good old fashioned computer) to see if there are any fires that require your attention? It’s become second nature to put everything on our mobile devices, but if you don’t absolutely need it, maybe save yourself from the temptation to get involved after hours?
- Twenty percent of U.S. adults admitted negative feelings, including feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, toward checking email outside of work.
3. Encourage the use of rules and advanced options in email clients
There are a crazy amount of filters that you can use to get emails organized. Sure, you’ve probably set up folders, but are you still manually moving messages into those folders? That still requires you to touch EVERY email. Encourage your technology team to put together some basic training that enables employees to better filter email.
- Almost half (47.5 percent) of respondents said they use advanced email settings to control, automate or organize their email.
4. Incorporate a chat or instant messaging tool, such as Slack, to take on some of the burden
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, there is a better, more efficient, and less chaotic way to communicate. A communication channel, like Slack, also has a “do not disturb” option that you can set company-wide, based on your business hours or when you want your team to stop responding to work inquiries (don’t worry, the messages will be there for tomorrow, they just won’t receive a notification immediately). Instead of sending company announcements via email, create a channel where employees can turn off notifications, but still check in. The key is that not everything needs to go through email.
- Almost one in five (18.8 percent) would choose an online chat tool, such as Slack or G-chat.
5. Empower workers to send less emails
We give you the full right to be an email traffic controller. Let team members know when something can/should go through another channel. Simply ask them, “Is this important enough for an after-hours email?” Depending on the response, recommend another communication channel to them. The more you call it out, the more people will discover other options and free up the email inbox.
- The majority of respondents (40.4 percent) said only flagging emails needing their response would help control after-hours email interruptions.
To see even more stats from our recent survey, check out our infographic.