A trend among global companies that eliminates or limits internal email to employees is a misguided strategy, according to a survey released by communications consultancy The Grossman Group and LCWA Research Group.
The 2012 work-related email perception study “Enough Already! Stop Bad Email,” shows that while middle managers typically spend 100 hours (6,000 minutes) a year on irrelevant email, they don’t want their ability to use email taken away or interrupted at any time of the day or night. They do, however, want policies that address the overwhelming volume of irrelevant email.
• Executives (84 percent), middle managers (83 percent), supervisors (84 percent) and employees (77 percent) overwhelmingly agree email is an effective and necessary communication tool.
• Only 8 percent of executives, 15 percent of middle managers, 10 percent of supervisors and 11 percent of employees said limiting email during normal business hours would be very effective.
• Only 11 percent of executives, 20 percent of middle managers, 8 percent of supervisors and 13 percent of employees said limiting email outside normal business hours would be very effective.
• Only 3 percent of executives, 12 percent of middle managers, 7 percent of supervisors and 7 percent of employees said eliminating email outside business hours would be very effective.
“We’ve seen companies around the world experimenting with email black-outs or time-outs,” says David Grossman, communication expert, author, founder and CEO, The Grossman Group. “However, our research reveals that’s not the most effective approach. We know employees are overloaded by their inboxes and it’s causing them stress, yet our research shows it’s email misbehaviors that need to be addressed.
“Just as important, leaders must establish guidelines, which are in line with company culture, for how email should be used. For example, one expectation might be that in the general course of business, email does not need to be answered outside business hours, unless specifically directed because of an urgent business need.”
While respondents said they don’t want access to email interrupted, they do want policies that address the overwhelming volumes of irrelevant emails. Middle managers are most affected (middle managers spend 6,000 minutes a year on irrelevant email, while supervisors spend 5,250 minutes a year and employees spend 4,250 minutes a year).
As a result, 61 percent of executives and 55 percent of middle managers said that email policies would be very effective in their organization.