Technology

Workplace Stress? Check Your Inbox

At GCC we work with many of the world’s most respected, forward-thinking employers, and it’s interesting to note just how many are now focusing on mental health.

One of the most enlightened employers we work with is Fiat-Chrysler in Brazil, where there is a constant effort to adopt best practice from their colleagues across the world. They currently look to Germany, where fellow car manufacturer Daimler has introduced stress-free breaks for its 100,000 employees, giving them an option to have all of their new emails deleted while they’re away. Anyone who sends them an email receives an automated response advising them that the person is away and can’t be reached.

The idea is designed to have employees back at their desks at the end of a holiday, ready to start afresh rather than with an email traffic jam. This isn’t the whim of one human resources department, either; the German Government is poised to enact anti-stress laws that will make it illegal for employers to send emails to workers during free time and holidays.

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This might sound extreme, but the issue that needs to be addressed is a serious one. Our client base hails from over 50 industry types and encapsulates employee populations spanning every socio-economic, geographic and psychographic audience imaginable — the rise in mental health issues is consistently escalating across the industrialized world — especially among white collar, cubicle dwelling employees.

These employees are struggling to keep ahead of the emails that land in their inbox each day. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, the average employee today will spend close to 30% of their time just slogging through email. Other research shows that employees check for emails around 74 times per day on average, and statistically, half of your employees checked for emails in bed this morning.

The numbers below, gathered by Microsoft, illustrate the full impact of email in employees’ daily lives:

• 38 percent do work related tasks on the weekend
• 41 percent panic when smartphone battery is low when they are out of the office or home
• 42 percent do work related tasks at home in the morning before leaving for work
• 44 percent do work related tasks when they get home from work

We’re an organization that is obsessive about understanding the human condition and the factors that are fueling the rise in stress across the world’s working population. Being ‘constantly email alert’ is a real driver. Checking for email is like an itch that just can’t be scratched for millions of employees. From a psychological perspective, it’s an ongoing exercise that taps into employees’ hopes, fears and anticipation. The hope that perhaps some good news is sitting in their inbox and the fear that the opportunity will pass by if it isn’t recognized and acted upon. Or conversely, the nagging thought…

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