|Email overload costs employers|
|Tuesday, 05 July 2011 00:00|
Whether you are a working carer or a boss, every minute is precious and counts. Things that slow down productivity during the working day are bad for both working carers and their employers.
Any time waster that adds to the possibility of you needing to ‘stay back’ to complete tasks, must be avoided at all costs.
It turns out that email communication is generally one such time waster and that it should be carefully managed.
Research by Deakin University in Canberra has found that email misuse costs employers an average of $16,000 per employee each year.
Dealing with emails can overload staff as they struggle to recover from the interruptions to their day-to-day work, according to the joint study by Deakin and Loughborough University in the UK.
The paper, published in the International Journal of Internet and Enterprise Management, identifies the unnecessary copying of emails to people who don’t need to read them as a significant and costly time waster.
Almost one in five emails is copied unnecessarily to staff members other than the main recipient. Thirteen percent are irrelevant or untargeted, and well under half are merely for information purposes.
Dr Thomas Jackson of Loughborough University and his Australian collaborator, Associate Professor Sharman Lichtenstein of Deakin University, claim that problems such as unclear messages, email overload, security and privacy issues and email interruptions all slow staff down.
Working with four British companies, the researchers developed a formula based on a salary of £41,000, the average number of emails received and the average time taken to read them, the total recovery time between reading email and getting back to normal work tasks and the number of employees in the organisation.
They found that for an organisation with around 3,000 employees with access to email, the cost works out at just over $8,000 per employee. For a company with 6,000 email users, the costs were much higher, at well over $16,000 per employee per year.
Fewer than half of emails that required an action on the part of the recipient actually stated what that action was.
Ironically, though, almost half of employees felt that their own emails were easy to read.
"These findings may help organisations to become more effective in managing their email communication systems," the two researchers wrote.
Dr Jackson and Associate Professor Lichtenstein recommended that communication managers or others responsible for email policy and management examine their email policies and develop a 'snapshot' of how their employees use email.
As a working carer in receipt of email communication, you can ask your manager and co-workers not to copy you in to emails that you do not need to directly action. You can also set up folders in your email program that automatically direct important emails into the appropriate folder, rather than have them all dumped into your ‘in’ box.
You can also set up multiple filters to automatically ‘trash’ unwanted email from nominated senders.
The research paper is available to read here: International Journal of Internet and Enterprise Management.