Happy Monday, beauties!
I have a question for you. Over the weekend, when you hear the “ding” of a new email coming in, do you check and respond right away?
Technology is a gift in so many ways. It allows us freedom and flexibility that wasn’t possible even a few years ago. But along with that freedom and flexibility, comes the reality that we can be reached at any time.
As I was researching the importance of play and leisure for the The Sisterhood last month, I came across an interesting study that showed it’s not just the actual time spent checking and responding to emails during off hours that causes is overwhelming people in the workforce.
The anticipatory stress and expectation to respond to after-hours emails is draining employees and leading to burnout.
“What we find is that people who feel they have to respond to emails on their off hours become emotionally exhausted, partially because they can’t detach from work,” said Conroy, assistant professor of Management at CSU’s College of Business. “They are not able to separate from work when they go home, which is when they are supposed to be recovering their resources.”
The study is not the first research to find after-hours emails hazardous to workers. It breaks new ground in focusing not primarily on mail volume and the extra time it adds to the workday but on a little-explored aspect of the problem: the mere expectation that workers will respond to email in their off hours.
Such a job norm, the professors write, “creates anticipatory stress” and “influences employee’s ability to detach from work regardless of the time required for email.”
“It’s not only that employees are spending a certain amount of extra time answering emails, but it’s that they feel they have to be ready to respond and they don’t know what the request will be,” said Conroy. “So if they’re having dinner with their family, and hear that ‘ding,’ they feel they have to turn their attention away from their family and answer the email.”
As business owner, this is a continual challenge for me. It’s an area of my life that I am always trying to balance and improve.
Hiring a community coordinator has been incredibly helpful in this. She now handles the majority of emails that come in and if you’ve emailed us you’ve probably received our autoresponder that explains how we respond to emails during regular business hours in attempt to “practice what we preach” and maintain a sense of balance in our own lives.
While the autoresponder is helpful, when I see and email come in from a Sisterhood member who needs help logging in to her account at 10:00 pm, I can’t help but want to immediately respond and help her out! Needless to say, it’s a challenge to find a balance that protects my “off” hours and also serves The Balanced Life community in the best possible way.
I’m curious…do you respond to email during your off-hours?
PS – Did you know you can sign up for the 30-Day Pilates Body Challenge at any time? CLICK HERE to give it try! 30 days. 10 minutes per day. No equipment necessary.
Source: “Exhausted But Unable to Disconnect,” authored by Liuba Belkin of Lehigh University,William Becker of Virginia Tech and Samantha A. Conroy of Colorado State University. The study will be presented In August at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management.