24/7 work emails can spoil your relationships: Study

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NEW YORK: Checking work emails 24/7 may take a toll on the mental health and well-being of both employees and their partners, says a study published in Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings.

As part of the study, 142 people, who were employed full-time, and their partners were surveyed in connection with the study.  Apart from their electronic communication, questions about health, well-being and relationship satisfaction were asked to the couple. About 100 of these individuals’ managers also answered survey questions, adding to conclusions about organizational expectations.
The study is the first to test the relationship between organizational expectations to monitor work-related electronic communication during non-work hours and the health and relationship satisfaction of employees and their significant others.
Those who said they felt an obligation to check professional mails during non work hours reported higher levels of anxiety and lower measures of well-being.
Interestingly, the time individuals required to spend on their work hours had no much impact on the effect. The mere expectation of being online was enough to take a toll.
In addition to this, the partners of the people who were expected to be online around the clock also reported decreased well-being, health and relationship satisfaction.
For organizations, policies that reduce expectations to monitor electronic communication outside of work would be ideal, the study says. "This may not always be an option due to various industry/job demands. Nevertheless, organizations could set off-hour email windows and limit use of electronic communications outside of those windows or set up email schedules when various employees are available to respond," the study suggests.
The idea would be to create clear boundaries for employees that indicate the times when work role identity enactment is likely to be needed and the times when employees can focus solely on their family role identities. For example, research indicates that when employees are allowed to engage in part-time telecommuting practices, they experience less emotional exhaustion and decreased work-family conflict.

(With inputs from agencies)

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