Did you know that you can increase employee happiness and decrease employee stress in your organization with one easy policy change? Sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t.
The one change you can make in your organization today to increase employee happiness and decrease employee stress is to prohibit employees from reading or sending work emails after hours. It’s that simple.
Technology makes it easy for employees to always be connected. This can be a challenge because employees to fail to disconnect on a regular basis (not just during vacations), report higher levels of stress and decreased happiness. A recent article from Fast Company highlights one company, Vynamic, a health care consulting firm who recently banned employees from reading or sending work emails between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am on weekdays and all day on weekends. If there is an employee who needs to catch up on emails after-hours, they’re encouraged to wait to send the emails until the next business day. For urgent matters, employees are instructed to call or text rather than email. This policy acts as a great filter, as most people don’t want to bother someone with a call or text after hours unless it is truly urgent.
Having “time off” from email requires that employees manage their time well and focus on being productive, not leaving emails until the very end of the day. If you see an employee struggling with this type of policy, encourage them to carve out specific times of day when they focus on their email inbox.
Encouraging employees to not read or send work emails after hours isn’t only important for employee happiness and stress. It is also important with regard to working hours for non-exempt employees. With the changes to the overtime laws, you may have even more employees who are non-exempt. These employees in particular should not be answering emails at home, as that time will need to be paid and counted toward hours worked for overtime calculations.
The key to making something like this work is for the leaders in the company to set a good example. Avoid emailing employees after business hours. Don’t check your work email after hours either. Encourage all employees, especially your management team, to do the same. Try it for 30-60 days and see what kind of impact it has on your organization. If you take on this challenge, we want to hear about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what results you saw.