Banning out-of-hours email 'could harm employee wellbeing'

Banning staff from accessing their work emails outside office hours could do more harm than good to employee wellbeing, a study suggests.

University of Sussex researchers found while a ban could help some staff switch off, it could also stop people achieving work goals, causing stress.

Companies are increasingly curbing email use to tackle burnout. France has even legislated on the issue.

But human resources body CIPD said it agreed with the university's findings.

According to the research, strict policies on email use could be harmful to employees with "high levels of anxiety and neuroticism".

That was because such employees needed to feel free to respond to a "growing accumulation of emails", or they could end up feeling even more stressed and overloaded, the researchers said.

Dr Emma Russell, a senior lecturer in management at the University of Sussex Business School, said despite the best intentions of policies limiting email use, a one-size-fits-all approach should be avoided.

"[Blanket bans] would be unlikely to be welcomed by employees who prioritise work performance goals and who would prefer to attend to work outside of hours if it helps them get their tasks completed.

"People need to deal with email in the way that suits their personality and their goal priorities in order to feel like they are adequately managing their workload."