Working all the time not only blurs the line between work and personal life. It hurts morale and can kill productivity.
Stress and burnout are more common than ever, and one main contributor is that workers are tethered to their phones 24/7. As a result, many feel that they’re never off the clock; and often managers and colleagues expect responses to emails and texts any time of the day or night.
Why should you limit after hours emails?
- Sending and receiving late-night emails can leave people feeling depleted and tired in the morning. At least one study has found that managers who used their phone after 9 p.m. experienced decreases in quantity and quality of sleep.
- It shows workers that you have poor management skills. Sending emails at all hours suggests poor planning and disorganization.
- It creates anxiety. Getting an email late at night that requires attention can be stressful, especially if it involves blame or criticism.
- It hurts team productivity. People can’t be productive if they’re not getting enough sleep or rest; and morale suffers when people are constantly interrupted when they’re supposed to be enjoying time off.
- It can lead to miscommunication. When people are half-asleep and/or distracted, they aren’t at the top of their game and they lack the time and presence of mind to respond thoughtfully.
- Lack of sleep and increased stress can affect people’s health. The more your people work, the more likely they are to experience issues such as depression, anxiety, weight gain or loss, substance abuse, and/or insomnia.
So before you send a late-night email to a coworker or employee, ask yourself:
- Is this urgent or can it wait until morning?
- Can the recipient really do anything to change the outcome of a situation at this moment?
- Is the recipient in the same time zone as you?
- Is the recipient likely to be awake and online?
- Are you sending the message because you want an answer or because you need an answer? (Don’t be self-centered; consider others’ feelings.)
To further promote appropriate email use, consider the following:
- Post your workers’ schedules so that everyone knows everyone else’s working hours.
- Model appropriate work-life balance. Resist the urge to send and respond to late-night emails yourself.
- Make it clear that workers are expected to complete their tasks during work hours. If they can’t do this, work with them to find out why. Determine if they are overburdened or have poor work habits.
- Make it clear that bothering colleagues with non-urgent emails after hours is unacceptable.
Over time, workers won’t remember everything that happened during the past year. However, they will remember how they were treated on the job; and this could mean the difference between an experienced, engaged workforce and turnover headaches in the coming months.