Email overload leads to stress… and suicide?

Email overload leads to stress… and suicide?

BlackberryWith employees at many companies being given a Blackberry to help keep on top of their email it’s little surprise to see an increase in stress.

With email pinging into your pocket 24 hours a day, there’s often a compulsion to keep on top of it, replying to emails at all times of day and night, never ‘switching off’ from work mode to relax.

France Telecom’s Chief Financial Officer has spoken out against email overload at a time when the company is dealing with a number of employee suicides. Could there be a connection?

Gervais Pellissier told Reuters “When you were an average employee in a big corporation 15 years ago, you had no mobile phone or no PC at home. When you were back home, work was out. Today for people working in business, whatever the level, whether they are CEO or even first- or second-rank level employees, they are always connected.”

Although Pellissier didn’t explicitly link the suicides to email overload, he made clear the company was taking both matters seriously. Surveillance and counselling services have been introduced as recent weeks have seen a man stab himself in the stomach during a staff meeting and a woman throw herself out a window. Since the start of last year there have been 22 suicides and another 13 attempted suicides among France Telecom staff.

It’s unlikely that constant connection to email is the sole cause of the suicides. That said, it could well be a contributing factor, especially if a senior member of the company’s staff is discussing both issues in the same breath.

Frequent ‘new mail’ alerts from your handset are a regular reminder of all that work you still have to do. The added stress of France Telecom’s transformation from a government agency to a private company, which has seen many significant changes to job roles, is likely to be another major factor.

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