It’s now the norm for younger workers to constantly dip into work via email in the early morning and late evening, according to new research from Bupa. Younger employees might feel that they are being productive around the clock, but in the long-term this can cause them to burn out or experience health and wellbeing issues.
The study found that the average millennial1 first checks their email at 6.37am and clocks up more than 12 hours a day of work time which is nearly an hour (56 minutes) more than their Gen X and Baby Boomer co-workers.
The majority (82 per cent) of millennials say they check their work emails ‘first thing in the morning and last thing at night’, in comparison to just two thirds (66 per cent) of over-35s. Forty per cent even feel obliged to check and respond to work emails despite being off sick and (32 per cent) have the same feeling when on annual leave which could lead to burnout and affect their long-term physical and mental health.
Email overload amongst under-35s has reached unhealthy levels, with 42 per cent saying they would feel stressed if they were not able to access their emails, compared with a fifth (22 per cent) of employees aged between 45-54 years old.
Although many businesses have taken steps to help ensure their employees have a good work-life balance, it is clear that the idea that the best way to progress is to be available around the clock persists amongst millennials.
A fifth (22 per cent) of millennials believe that they would be viewed as uncommitted to their job if they did not respond to emails outside of work hours. A third (33 per cent) believe that their career progression could be impacted if they only respond to work emails in work time, compared with less than ten per cent of employees over 55 years old.
Pablo Vandenabeele, clinical director for mental health at Bupa UK, says, ‘Down time from work is crucial to maintaining good mental health – as it gives both the mind and body the opportunity to reset and recover. With millennials dipping into work emails morning through to night, it’s clear they are not making enough time to ensure they remain mentally and physically healthy.
‘The long-term pressure to respond to work emails at all times can lead to irritability, anxiety, depression and even more physical symptoms like aches, chest pains and stomach issues. Wellbeing should be a cornerstone of any workplace health policy and promoting the importance of switching off from work is a key part of that.’