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Emails outside of work ‘toxic’ for employees

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Access to work emails outside of working hours has been described as a ‘toxic’ source of stress for employees, according to a recent report from the Future Work Centre.

Research shows that for conscientious staff, checking emails away from the office is linked to higher levels of stress and pressure. 

Although personality types can often affect the degree to which the pressure is felt, businesses and organisations are being urged to put policies into place to stop employees letting work anxieties overspill into home life. 

Titled ‘You’ve got mail!’, the report surveyed 2,000 people across a variety of industries, sectors and jobs and is due to be presented at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology’s annual conference. 

‘You’ve got mail!’ found a strong link between emails which are automatically sent to your inbox (‘push’ emails) and perceived email pressure, with ‘push’ emails used by almost half (49 per cent) of respondents.  

In the IT and marketing, PR, media and internet sectors, perceived email pressure was found to be the highest with 30 per cent of those in these industries, receiving more than 50 emails a day. Over 65 per cent claimed that their emails were always active. 

Managers specifically were found to experience significantly higher levels of perceived email pressure compared to non-managers. 

Dr Richard MacKinnon, insight director at the Future Work Centre, said: “Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it’s clear that it’s a source of stress of frustration for many of us. 

"The habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organisational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and wellbeing.”

CIPD believes that stress may be linked with employees having a higher core self-evaluation and believing they have more control over their situation and are therefore less impacted by their jobs.


Posted by Jon Aspinell on 7th January 2016

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