Checking work e-mails and dealing with work-related activities on your spare time can be detrimental for your health, lead to emotional exhaustion, and disturb the work-family balance.
Study author Liuba Belkin said, “They still feel less ability to detach from work, more emotional exhaustion, and low perceptions of work-family balance. I love what I’m doing, so for me the expectation [to act on work-related email after hours] doesn’t really bother me as much.” Regardless, experts suggest that employees need time to unwind in order to replenish their physical and mental resources.
The researchers believe their study is among the first to identify the expectation of work e-mails after hours as a possible job stressor.
Although modern-day technology allows for a large degree of flexibility in many jobs, it also contributes to negative health outcomes and poor overall well-being of the employees who cannot unplug from their work. Plus, it can throw off work-family balance.
The study was conducted on 297 working adults who completed surveys, agreeing or disagreeing with statements like “Away from work, I don’t think about work at all,” and “I feel emotionally drained from my work.”
A week later, the participants completed a follow-up survey on work-family balance, where they once again had to agree or disagree with statements. After adjusting for other factors such as gender and age, the researchers found that people’s preferences for separating work and family life and the expectation to react to work e-mails after hours were positively linked with the time spent on e-mail and negatively linked with work-family balance.
In France, a law limiting e-mails after hours has already been passed in companies with over 50 employees. Similar trends have been seen in some American companies, but just a few.
Although the study is not calling for a complete ban of e-mail communication once the official work day is over, the results imply the need for a greater balance between one’s professional activities and personal life.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article: Americans think work affects their health: Recent poll