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The effect of too many emails on your employees

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Electronic communication has completely changed work culture as we know it, offering greater flexibility for employees to work anywhere, anytime. On the flip side, the negative effects of constant communication and email incivility can affect not only the recipient but their family members too.

According to a study conducted by YoungAh Park, a professor at the University of Illinois in the US. Researchers collected survey data from 167 dual-earner couples at different points in time during a typical work week.

“People who receive a greater number of negative, rude or just uncivil emails tend to report more strain at the end of their workday, which can manifest itself in all sorts of ways, from physical symptom such as headaches to feeling negative emotions,” said Park in the Economic Times of India. “In this new paper, I found that email incivility has more persistent effects. It’s not merely a blip on your workday radar and then you forget about it. It has a cumulative negative effect on both workers and their families.”

According to the research, employees who receive rude emails tend to withdraw from work the following week.

“This is a typical stress reaction: When you are under great stress, you tend to avoid your work as a means of conserving your energy and resources and staying away from stressors. It’s self-preservation,” Park said.

One of the things that is particularly stressful about electronic communication is being unable to read tone, expression or gestures that help you to understand context. As a result, even amicable emails could be perceived as hostile.

In addition, receiving these emails on the weekend can cause workers to pass their stress on to their partners. This, in turn, can cause their partner to withdraw from their work to the research revealed.

When workers ruminate about negative work incidents over the weekend, “they are more likely to take their stress out on family members, including their spouse because the rumination replays the stressors and renews their effects,” Park said. “So this workplace stress crosses over work-life threshold more easily to the spouse on the weekend.”

Managers should be aware that email rudeness can cause stress and take steps to combat that.

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