Email management can be a stressful and overwhelming daily exercise for many employees, and now that we are connected 24/7 through our devices, it can lead to burnout. According to Atlassian, we receive 300 emails per week, while McKinsey say we spend 2.5 hours reading and responding to those emails – in total, we are spending 1.5 days a week reading emails.
Without a personal strategy or even a company policy to manage our inboxes, it’s a task which can easily get out of hand, and become overwhelming and unproductive.
“An always ‘on’ culture with high expectations to monitor and respond to emails during non-work time may prevent employees from ever fully disengaging from work, leading to chronic stress and emotional exhaustion” – 'Exhausted but Unable to Disconnect' paper, presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management.
Having a clutter-free inbox is an achievement some of us strive for; the never-ending supply of constant information is an unavoidable problem, whether you have been emailed directly, cc’d or bcc’d (and let’s not forget the dreaded reply to all!).
Approximately 269 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2017. This figure is expected to grow to almost 320 billion daily emails in 2021 – Statista
As individuals, we probably have some form of personal management for our work emails, but there are examples of businesses who have begun to think outside the box, and implement companywide email policy, in a bid to help with employee wellbeing and increase productivity. Here are four brilliant examples:
Limited group internal emails
Ferrari reduced the number of internal people you can add to a group email – only three employees can be selected at a time. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Chairman of Ferrari, says the policy is “to incentivise more efficient and direct communication, by placing much stricter limits on the number of emails being sent".
A Statement from Ferrari explained the policy: “From now on, each Ferrari employee will only be able to send the same email to three people in-house. The injudicious sending of emails with dozens of recipients often on subjects with no relevance to most of the latter is one of the main causes of time wastage and inefficiency in the average working day in business. Ferrari has therefore decided to nip the problem in the bud by issuing a very clear and simple instruction to its employees: talk to each other more and write less."
No internal emails
Menlo Innovations, a US-based technology company introduced a no internal emails policy, alongside their many existing forward-thinking approaches. Instead of sending colleagues a quick email, employees must speak to fellow team members when they require information. Richard Sheridan, Co-Founder of Menlo Innovations, coined the phrase High-Speed Voice Technology. He insists that instead of creating meetings with email (or internal chat tools), you must speak to your colleagues directly, creating dialogue and collaboration amongst teams.
No emails while on Annual Leave
Damlier introduced a clever email policy: “Mail on Holiday” gives employees the option to send their emails directly to their deleted folder. The sender receives an auto response, like this:
“I am on vacation. I cannot read your email. Your email is being deleted. Please contact my colleagues if it's really important, or resend the email after I'm back in the office.”
Being able to return from annual leave and not be confronted with a wall of email has resulted in team members having a better work/life balance, and the option to disconnect while on holiday.
45% of employees said they have to respond to emails outside of their contracted working hours, due to high volumes received.
No emails after office hours
Volkswagen implemented the ability to block email after office hours, only releasing the email back into employees’ inboxes the next working day. A Volkswagen spokesman said that the company “respects relaxation time”, and will only interrupt after hours if it’s an emergency.
Email frequency has increased over the years, and as business leaders are placing more and more importance on employee wellness, perhaps something as simple as a company-wide email policy could play a contributing factor in improving stress, wellness and increasing productivity.