People who find the need to always be available via text, phone, and email after hours pay a high price. In the United States, disconnecting from work after hours is nearly unheard of; people carry their phone with them 24/7 and find personal hours interrupted by work on numerous occasions. Employees feel obligated to be “on-call” even when the nature of the email is non-urgent and could wait until normal business hours.
The line between personal and work time is difficult to navigate especially when employees need time to relax, remove themselves from work, and find their personal peace outside of the office. Without the ability to disconnect, employees experience a higher rate of stress that leads to lack of sleep, which can lead to higher chances of being overweight and also heart disease. Employees with higher rates of stress also experience potential burnout and depression, which decreases morale at work.
Here are two major changes that need to happen to reduce stress and increase employee morale:
Managers can reduce after-hours contact to increase employee morale.
When an employee receives an email or text after hours, they feel compelled to answer to it, even if they email can be left until regular work hours. Employees feel that showing their dedication to the job happens even after hours and feel a burden and stress to constantly prove themselves when they should be justifiably, relaxing.
Arm your managers with resources to create guidelines for afterhours emails.
Creating a system or process for managing critical versus non-critical emails after hours is important for team morale. By discussing this process, an employee can comfortably browse emails, if they choose, but not feel obligated to respond or take action after hours.
Some managers consider texting employees in a crisis situation to alert them of an important email, and as a reminder to not respond to other emails that are sent after hours. Other companies give their managers tools to time delay emails to be sent when the work day begins. This eliminates the need for managers to remember to send a specific email and alleviates the need for them to interrupt employees on their personal time.