Study: Checking E-mails after Work Harms Health and Relationships

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. occurrence / əˈkɚrəns / (n) – something that is happening

    Having stomach aches is a common occurrence for people with gastritis.

  2. exhaustion / ɪgˈzɑːstʃən / (n) – the condition of feeling physically or mentally tired

    My mental exhaustion is getting worse because of my heavy workload.

  3. anticipation / ænˌtɪsəˈpeɪʃən / (n) – the act of expecting something to happen

    I waited in anticipation for the e-mail, but I never received it.

  4. pass on / pæs ɑːn / (phrasal) – to transfer something

    Most parents pass on their talents to their children.

  5. oblivious / əˈblɪvijəs / (adj) – unaware of something

    She was oblivious to the symptoms of her illness, so she did not consult a doctor immediately.


Read the text below.

A study has found that checking e-mails after work hours can negatively affect an individual’s health and relationships.

Researchers from Lehigh [LEE-hahy] University, Virginia Tech, and Colorado State University examined the effects of checking e-mails during non-work hours on individuals’ mental well-being and relationships. The researchers did so by conducting surveys with 31- to 40-year-old full-time employees from different industries. The respondents answered questions about their habits on checking e-mails after work hours, their well-being and anxiety levels, and the occurrence of conflict with their partners.

Findings showed that the respondents who spent the most time checking their e-mails after work had the highest stress levels. These respondents also scored the lowest in terms of well-being. However, how long the respondents spent on checking e-mails was not the source of exhaustion, but rather the anticipation of receiving work-related e-mails.

The researchers also found that stress was passed on to the respondents’ partners at home. According to co-author William Becker, the respondents were oblivious to the effects of their e-mail checking habits on their partners. Nevertheless, the respondents’ partners attested that these habits have an impact on their relationships.

Therefore, the researchers advised company managers to create policies that will encourage employees’ work-life balance. These policies include implementing e-mail-free days and e-mail rotation schedules.

Currently, some companies have some initiatives in place to combat the negative effects of checking e-mails after work hours. Dublin-based business consultancy firm Get Organised has imposed a ban on sending e-mails after work hours to promote work-life balance. Other companies have also set automatic e-mail responses during holidays.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the ban on sending e-mails after work can also be implemented by companies in your country? Why or why not?
• Aside from the ones mentioned, what other initiatives can companies propose to help employees maintain their health and relationships outside work? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Why is it important to take time away from work?
• What do you think are some reasons why some people find it difficult to take time away from work? Discuss.