Work-related stress and anxiety have always been an issue in the modern workplace, and now is the leading cause of ill health and sickness absence in Britain. According to HSE statistics there were 12.8 million working days lost in the UK in 2018-19 due to stress, depression or anxiety.
Companies in all sectors are beginning to take this seriously; there has been a rise in well-being and mindfulness courses, and employees are being encouraged to take mental health more seriously than ever before. As a manager and leader, what can you do to support your people?
One cause of stress and anxiety is still the bane of many workers lives: an overload of email. Most of our work-based information comes from email yet studies have shown 80% of this is “greymail” – not important, not pertaining to our job roles and certainly not urgent. According to a report by DMR, the average UK worker receives 121 emails per day, equating to 28,200 emails every year. If 80% are greymail this means that we are each receiving a mind boggling 22,560 useless bits of information every year.
Let’s say we each take 30 seconds to deal with each email – even if only to look at the subject line, decide what to do with it (delete, defer, deal with or file). Therefore we are wasting 188 hours every year dealing with useless data! Imagine what else you could ask your staff to do with the wasted 25 days they spend dealing with irrelevant emails.
And it doesn’t stop there. McKinsey reported that 61% of the non-greymail emails are for information only – so require no action as such. That leaves just 9 of the 121 emails that you receive that require your input.
What this means for your staff is – rather shockingly – their work life is being dictated by other people’s agendas. Staff will certainly feel happier, less stressed and will be more productive if they just focus on their own agendas and learn how to deal with this information overload.
If we know this, what can we do to ensure that the 112 or so irrelevant emails that we get in our inboxes every day don’t distract us from our real work? Here are just 3 strategies to combat email overload from Emailogic’s award winning bite-sized training:
1. Set up rules and filters to automatically sort the emails that you need from those that you don’t. If you do not know how to do this then ask a colleague in IT to show you how to use a feature called ‘Rules’.
2. Use the 4D’s to sort, filter and prioritise your email:
We guarantee that 99% of the emails you receive you can deal with using the above principle and 95% of the emails that you file you will not touch again.
3. Turn off any visual or audible alert that tells you a new email has arrived. Then check your emails at planned intervals. This means you will not be interrupted by every email that arrives. 20 years of experience tells us that this will reduce your stress, improve your focus and ability to conduct ‘deep work’.
At Emailogic, we know that our training has an impact. Work and Well-Being Ltd, independent research specialists, were appointed to evaluate the impact of our email training programme. The programme was rolled out to staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust as part of the London hospital’s bid to support staff well-being and effectiveness, and some 100 managers were selected to attend one of four email management sessions.
As a result of the training, measured improvements against a control sample included:
As Staynton Brown, Associate Director at Guy’s and St Thomas, said: “Email productivity training has had a significant, positive impact on managers’ performance and productivity. Better decisions and less stress will result in better care for our patients."