Survey: Work email needs overhaul

Middle managers typically spend the equivalent of 2.5 workweeks annually on irrelevant email, but they don’t want their ability to use email limited or interrupted in any way, according to research findings released June 2012.

Instead, they say, workplace e-mail needs an overhaul, according to an online survey of 1,300 corporate executives, middle managers, supervisors and nonsupervising employees at Fortune 1,000 companies. The survey was conducted in February and March 2012 by The Grossman Group, a communications consultancy, and LCWA Research Group.

Slightly more than half of middle managers and supervisors and 48% of other employees want the flexibility to access work-related email after hours to stay in the loop, the survey found. Such access helps them prepare for the next business day, said 51% of middle managers, 45% of supervisors and 47% of other employees.

“We’ve seen companies around the world experimenting with email black-outs or time-outs,” said David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group. “However, our research reveals that’s not the most effective approach,” he stated in a news release.

In fact, 84% of executives, 83% of middle managers and 77% of other employees say email is an effective, necessary communication tool. It is e-mail misbehavior that affects their level of engagement.

What middle managers want, according to the findings, is an organization-wide email etiquette policy that helps them stem the engulfing tide of irrelevant email. Sixty-one percent of executives, 55%of middle managers and 40% of nonsupervising employees said such policies reinforcing email etiquette rules would be very effective in their organizations.

“We know employees are overloaded by their inboxes,” said Grossman, author of the free book, The Definitive Guide to Taming the Email Monster: Eliminating Email and What You Can Do About It, (The Grossman Group, January 2012). “And it’s causing them stress. Yet our research shows it’s e-mail misbehavior that needs to be addressed.”

Some of the top issues respondents have with work-related emails:

• Too many back-and-forth replies -- 34% of middle managers; 30% of nonsupervising employees.

• Usinge-mail when a meeting or phone call would be more appropriate -- 32% of middle managers; 19% of nonsupervising employees.

• Using “reply all” -- 29%, 26%.

• Poorly written or unclear emails -- 26%, 24%.

• Copying others unnecessarily -- 25%, 21%.

• Hiding behind email for difficult conversations -- 17%, 15%.

• Irrelevant emails -- 17%, 19%.

• Sharing email with unintended audiences, such as media and other co-workers -- 15%, 10%.

• Wordiness -- 15%, 12%.

• Containing no call to action -- 9%, 7%.

• No parameters or rules for company email use -- 7%, 6%.


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