10 May 2015
Email addiction is damaging the health of the nation
Professor Tom Jackson from Loughborough University has done extensive research on the impact of work email on health and mental wellbeing.
His findings show there is a direct link between email use and increased levels of stress as well as other health conditions such as hypertension, thyroid disease, heart failure and coronary artery disease.
Professor Jackson, from the University’s school of Business and Economics explains: “Multifunctional devices like Blackberry’s and iPhones allow workers to be accessible 24-hours a day, and because of this it is likely that there will be an increase in stress levels.
“Another concerning aspect is that many employees do not realise that they are stressed, as in my study users perceived themselves not to be stressed when the physiological findings showed their bodies were under increased stress. This would indicate that employees might find it difficult to self-regulate their use of communication media to ensure they do not become overwhelmed by stress.
“The significance of this is that long term short sharp increases such as this can lead to long term chronic health conditions.”
However Professor Jackson argues that email is not a bad communication tool, but that poor email training and management is the problem. Not only does this have health implications, but also a financial cost for businesses.
In a previous study he calculated that poor email use was costing employers up to £10,000 per employee per year in lost productivity, so it is in the best interests of all parties to tackle the problem.
He added: “By reducing the volume of irrelevant and untargeted email and by reducing the frequency with which an email application checks for new email, the cost of email use can be optimised.
"It is 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.
“Such information will provide an organisation with a useful foundation from which to build their training to increase the effectiveness of their employees."
Professor Jackson has developed an email training tool to help employers train their staff in the best way to use email to boost productivity and reduce stress. For further information email Professor Jackson at T.W.Jackson@Lboro.ac.uk.