Almost 3 In 5 Employees Think Work Emails Are Ruining Family Mealtimes

Author

Kate Ashford, Contributor

June 26, 2015

Sure, technology has made it easier to work from anywhere, and there are advantages to being able to respond quickly to employer requests when you’re on the go. Smartphones give people the flexibility to handle work matters from pretty much anywhere.

But that doesn’t mean they love doing it.

It seems that 56% of workers believe that technology has wrecked the family dinner, because clients and employers expect a response no matter when they communicate, according to a recent survey by Workfront, a provider of cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solutions. In fact, only a third of employees strongly agree that they have a good work-life balance.

“More times than not, there are no parameters set by employers on what they require from employees after hours,” said Workfront CMO Joe Staples in a press release. “So the default can be an ‘always-on’ lifestyle.”

Technology has become such a part of our lifestyle that four in 10 employees think it’s acceptable to answer an urgent work email during a family meal. And it follows, of course, that people are checking email during the family meal to catch those urgent missives. (Interestingly, Millennials are much more okay with this than other generations—52% of them answered in the affirmative.)

But many people who get electronic work communications after hours get mad, according to a study from the University of Texas at Arlington. “People who were part of the study reported they became angry when they received a work email or text after they had gone home and that communication was negatively worded or required a lot of the person’s time,” said Marcus Butts, UT Arlington associate professor and study lead author about the findings. “The after-hours emails really affected those workers’ personal lives.”

Work-life balance is suffering in other ways, too. Some 38% of employees have had to miss important life events due to work, Workfront’s survey found. In another survey by CareerArc and WorkplaceTrends.com, one in five employees reported spending more than 20 hours per week working outside of the office during their off time.

That survey also found a disconnect between employers and workers when it came to work-life balance: Some 67% of human resources professionals felt that their workers had a good work-life balance, but 45% of employees disagreed. It also seems that while only half of employers rank workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they think their workers want, three-quarters of employees picked it as their number one benefit.

According to Workfront’s research, employees believe that the following things have the most negative impact on work-life balance:

  • Bad bosses (60%)
  • Constantly working beyond standard business hours (39%)
  • Inflexibility in scheduling work hours/time off (39%)
  • Incompetent colleagues (31%)
  • Long commutes (30%)
  • Unproductive meetings (26%)
  • Employer issued devices which can’t be turned “off” (23%)
  • Non-stop emails (18%)
  • Bad clients (15%)

When asked what employers should do to improve work/life balance for their employees, respondents suggested offering flexible work schedules (69%), allowing remote working (55%), offering unlimited paid time off (27%), and imposing restrictions on email response times (27%).

This article was written by Kate Ashford from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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