Today, most of the employees have to cope with the use of emails and communication technologies. However, these useful tools can quickly become stressful and lead to burnout.
Burnout is often caused by a combination of several factors. The work environment and organizational business processes are two of the main elements. The intensive use of new technology of communication is also involved. The most common devices are: pc, smartphones and tablets, emails and IT agenda, the timesheet software and software with or without workflow system.
These new tools link the private and the work life and can be a real source of stress.
Phd M. Camargo has written the most comprehensive study on the subject. It argues that organizational factors of the company but also the individual characteristics of the employee generate a continuous flow of information associated with the feeling of never being able to complete tasks.
1 . Factors of work organization
The employee uses email for communication and to achieve work objectives. But ambiguity can quickly become an issue. Sending an email to a colleague is a daily task that becomes a problem if several employees do the same simultaneously. Each answer becomes a break and a loss of attention.
The employee enters a whirlpool and perceives the work environment as extremely fast and ever changing. That’s how the email becomes a factor of ambiguity rather than productivity.
The constant arrival of emails gives the impression that the employee needs to be constantly available and that the amount of work can never decrease. The feeling of not being able to achieve its objectives greatly contributes to the burnout.
2 . Factors of the employee
The employee is concerned to leave the office with “potentially important” unread messages. The anxiety of not being connected to important information becomes permanent and the employee will seek to be available 24×7.
Many employees read their professional emails from home before going to sleep or during the weekends. This behaviour affects their recovery time and work becomes a strong source of stress.
One can hypothesize that the craze for sports and relaxation therapies, meditation and well-being, or for environmental or wildlife holidays in isolated places, finds its explanation in the fact that the employee seeks to reconnect to itself and its own aspirations, slow down time, avoid overthinking or early insomnia which can be caused by the nonstop connection with the workplace.
Different kind of emails can easily be avoided by proper settings of the inbox:
Emails caused by the misuse of the enterprise social networks (ESN):
- Status on a collective process that could be completed on a shared list
- Information already available on the ESN but employees do not make the effort to check it before asking.
- Limited daily use of the available ESN
- Disable emails for calendar synchronization
- Information that might appear on the homepage of the ESN
Automatic emails to check the status of specific tasks (Saturation of the inbox space).
Emails from external sites due to improper settings such as notifications from Viadeo, LinkedIn, Twitter.
Regine Sponar, UCLouvain