We send and receive hundreds of emails every week. Email is still the most frequently used method of communication for businesses. It’s on our desktops, our laptops, and now it’s on our personal phones and Apple Watches—but when does it become too much? It can be tempting for employees (and ourselves) to email after hours on weeknights or weekends. If your company culture is promoting a better work-life balance, then this is an issue that will be tough to tackle.
Taking work home can increase burnout for employees and leave them feeling less rested for work the next day. In your next team meeting, take a moment to address emailing after work and offer the following tips. This will help you and your employees put away your email once you’re home.
Pick up the phone.
It happens! No one can deny that after-hours emergencies happen. If something is urgent, then pick up the phone. The person you need to reach may not be available via email. If they don’t answer, send a short text message letting them know the basics of the issue and ask them to call you back. This will take care of communicating emergencies quickly and efficiently.
Get on the same page.
Managers and their teams need to be on the same page. In some workplaces, this may be a generational issue. Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers are more likely to be in management positions and are also more likely to send emails on nights at weekend. Who receives those emails? Millennials. Millennials are, perhaps surprisingly, the least likely to send late-night emails, but they receive them the most. This may make younger employees feel as though they, too, need to stay later and stay connected seven days a week.
To combat this, make sure managers follow any after-hours policies you put in place. Outside of emergencies, it’s also important to ensure that employers don’t face disciplinary actions for not responding to emails after hours.
Cutting down on after-hours emails starts with you, who is putting the guideline in place. It can be difficult to refrain from checking your email or responding to every client or coworker right away. If you’re guilty of spending too much time on your work email after hours, create an alternative. If you have a thought that you need to email, make a note in your phone or on a notepad and send the emails the next morning. Remember, always stop and think before opening your email app.
There’s always a “but!” Make it clear to employees that if they are on a team who has responsibilities after hours or are working on a special project they are not excused from emailing after hours.
We send tips just like these every month, along with HR news, in our monthly newsletter. Subscribe here!