Inefficient email is costing companies

Email could be costing companies more than £10,000 per employee per year according to research from Loughborough University’s Dr Tom Jackson.

In a paper published in the International Journal of Internet and Enterprise Management, Dr Jackson argues that a strategy of ’email training’ for staff and improved email management could improve staff efficiency and minimise time wasted on irrelevant and unnecessary emails.

During a two-year study Dr Jackson observed employees at four UK businesses with staff numbers ranging from 23 to 20,000. He distributed questionnaires to identify organisational email use and email problem areas before delivering seminar- and computer-based training to groups of employees at two of the organisations. 

An email training tool, developed by Dr Jackson at Loughborough, was also utilised to flag up possible defects in emails prior to sending. 

Results showed estimated costs of email per employee ranging from £5,197 to £10,621 per year dependent on the average number of emails received per day and number of email end-users, and based on an average salary of £24,603 (National Statistics Online, 2007). The figure also takes into account an assumed overhead of £23,244 per employee per year.    

Email inefficiencies result from the written quality of email messages, the quantity of email received and the ineffective configuration of an organisation’s email applications. 

Through training, staff can identify when email is the most appropriate communications channel, learn how to write effective subject headers and concise messages, and decide who really needs to be copied into each email.

“Our findings may help organisations to become more effective in managing their email communication systems,” said Dr Jackson, a senior lecturer in the University’s Department of Information Science.

“By reducing the volume of irrelevant and untargeted email and by reducing the frequency with which an email application checks for new email, the cost of email use can be optimised.

“It is recommended that communication managers or others responsible for email policy and management examine their email policies and develop a ‘snapshot’ of how their employees use email. 

“Such information will provide an organisation with a useful foundation from which to build their training to increase the effectiveness of their employees.”


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