Article | Talent Strategy

Is It Okay to Send Weekend Emails?

The importance of letting employees relax and recharge

Weekend Emails. Why You Shouldn’t Send Them.

It might seem sensible for managers to send emails at the weekend to brief employees on the coming week, or to review progress of the previous week. After all, this is when most managers have free time to do that. But, in terms of talent management, it can seriously detrimental for employee morale and can have far-reaching damaging effects on the business.

Make email etiquette part of your HR talent management strategy

People don’t work every day of the week for a reason. If they did, they’d burn out pretty quickly. Performance and productivity would deteriorate and the business would suffer. For most employees, the weekend is a time to switch off and recharge their batteries for the coming working week. The problem is, for some bosses, it’s the ideal time to send updates for the week ahead.

Every survey shows that sending work-related communications, such as emails, or worse, SMS messages, to employees at the weekend causes stress and anxiety - to the extent that some workers feel their only option is to resign. Clearly, not a good strategy when it comes to talent management and organisational performance.

Time off is important for productivity

Sending a work email out of hours imposes an obligation, particularly if your business has policies on how quickly employees should respond to emails during work hours. If someone feels obligated to stop what they’re doing on their time off to respond to a work communication, they will become resentful and this will eventually affect their work.

Studies also show that it isn’t just the recipient of the email who gets stressed out, it’s their loved ones too. The partners of workers who received weekend work emails report higher levels of anxiety, which only compounds the issue.

Worse still, many workers experience ‘anticipatory’ stress even before they leave the office with the expectancy that they may need to respond to an email when they’re out of the office. As a result, they don’t ‘turn off’ from work at all, even if they don’t receive any work-related emails over the weekend.

A sensible talent management strategy should focus on providing workers with the best work/life balance possible. Doing that means that employees should have their time off from any work-related matters, so they can recharge and perform to the best of their ability when they are at work.

Brilliant talent management means brilliant workers

Of course an operational emergency may means a manager has no option but to send a message to an employee, but this should be the exception. If a manager is emailing a worker simply to send a reminder for an upcoming project, or just because they’ve had an idea, that’s not acceptable.

Fortunately, there are strategies managers can use to resist the temptation of ruining someone’s weekend with an unnecessary email. Firstly, if something comes into your head that you need to share, use a notebook or note-taking app for reminders so that you can send an email on Monday morning. Alternatively, if you really feel that you have to compose an email, use a delivery delay or scheduling function on your device.

Better still, anticipate any matters you think might crop up on Friday afternoon and send an email then. You could even hold a meeting during the day to review the week’s work and put it to bed before workers leave for the weekend.

Finally, if, as a manager, you’re spending too much time dwelling on work at the weekend, it might be time to consider if that’s affecting your own performance. Review your own habits and your schedule at that weekend, so you can enjoy real time off with family, friends and hobbies, instead of focussing on work. You’ll see a big difference in your own productivity and work satisfaction.

Companies that want workers coming in on Monday morning refreshed and ready to put 100% into the week ahead should develop policies that ensure managers aren’t expecting workers to respond to emails when they’re not at work. Without guidelines and a focus on talent management, employee satisfaction, productivity and staff retention rates will be negatively impacted.

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