Sunday, August 7, 2016

Exhausted from checking email?

SF Gate/Technology/Reuters/Scott Morgan, 8/1/16."Employees are 'exhausted' by the constant need to check email after hours, study finds."

Image result for checking email after hours picture
"On" at work
Image result for checking email after hours picture
"On" everywhere
"It's almost considered sacrilegious today to leave work at the end of your workday or (for shame!) on a Friday and simply not check your work email again until you return the office during normal working hours. The constant need to check email is the trade-off the modern workforce has made for the ability to work anytime, anywhere, thanks to smartphones and tablets that keep us always connected.

A new study, “Exhausted But Unable to Disconnect,” by Lehigh University's Liuba Belkin, Virginia Tech's William Becker and Colorado State University's Samantha Conroy shows that employees are growing exhausted by the expectation that they will always be available, never knowing what kind of work requests will be asked of them off hours.
Typically, companies don't mean to stress employees out like that. Most companies don't have formal policies that say people must answer work emails after-hours, (except, perhaps, in cases where an employee is on call during specific times). But policies and culture tend to be two different things.

If supervisors routinely email employees after hours and expect a fast response (often because their supervisors are doing the same to them), then the message is clear: whenever the boss emails, the employee is expected to be available. The solution is for bosses to tell employees that an after-hours email doesn't necessarily require a response before the next work day, and to also set some times when after-hours emailing is considered acceptable and prohibited, such as no emails via the dinner hour, on weekends, or after 10 p.m., the researchers say."

"On" anytime, all times
Related study. Virginia Tech News/William Becker, "Expectations for employees to check email after hours can cause burnout, new study finds." "The emotional stress and exhaustion that may result from such expectations has a negative effect on the individual’s well-being and, ultimately, job performance. William Becker, a Virginia Tech associate professor of Management in the Pamplin College of Business and one of the study’s co-authors, says that just the expectation itself that emails will be tended to “creates anticipatory stress” in employees. His study notes that “even during the times when there are no actual emails to act upon, the mere norm of availability and the actual anticipation of work create a constant stressor that precludes an employee from work detachment.”

Related articles. Time magazine/Health/Mandy Oaklander, 11/6/14, "Answering Emails After Work Is Bad For Your Health." Now, 52% of Americans check their e-mail before and after work, even when they take a sick day; ignoring email can seem more stressful than dashing off a quick response. But all that continuous connection comes at a cost to our health, finds new research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.   BBC/Hugh Schofield (Paris), 5/11/16, "The plan to ban work emails out of hours." Huffington Post, 5/25/16, "Weekend Work Emails Are Now Illegal In France."

Note photographs. Busy at work and sleeping from The Low-Down blog, 5/21/16: BBC magazine/Tom de Castella, 5/17/16, "France enacts ban on after-hours emails: could it work anywhere else?" The Economist reports, 5/15/16, "What it means to be part of the generation that doewsn't remember life before smartphones," from comments, The slack generation." Man talking on phone with bag by Famer Flynet from Daily Mail, 7/1/16,"Harrison Ford and wife Calista Flockhar...vacation."

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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