Technology has changed the way we work, making employees easier to contact anytime, anywhere – in fact, our research showed that in 2016, 40 per cent of Australian workers said they rely on technology to perform most of their work.
Although most organisations rely on email as a communication tool, one Brisbane-based organisation has eliminated them as its primary means of communication in a bid to improve work relationships.
Nathan Schokker, Director and Facilities Manager at Talio, a facilities management services provider in Brisbane, made the decision two years ago to limit email communication in the workplace, after he began to notice the unhealthy habits associated with its use.
“As an organisation, we were almost tied to them. We had the habit of checking emails every ten minutes. It was a case where people were getting bogged down by emails,” Mr Schokker said.
The bold decision to reduce emails meant Talio employee were encouraged to have face-to-face meetings or to pick up the phone to respond to client or supplier emails.
“Our aim was to eliminate as many emails as possible and get back to the sentiment that there is a person on the end of the other line,” said Mr Schokker.
This approach has reduced the number of miscommunications that often occur through email and would otherwise have led to further issues or strained relationships.
Although it was difficult at first to get all employees on board for the change, Mr Schokker said it was well worth it for Talio, improving productivity and relationships.
“Across a range of measurements including productivity, efficiency, profitability, we have experienced double digit growth after the change,” he said.
On top of improving business KPIs, healthier work-life balance was also part of the reason emails were eliminated and there has been a genuine difference in culture and wellbeing.
“As the CEO, I expected myself to work a little harder than everyone else but my employees were also working on weekends, after hours and were ‘on call’,” he said.
“At one point there was an environment where you think you have to respond no matter what time it was – people underestimate the damage that constant communications can have on your mental and emotional state. When are you ever re-setting the system, and getting yourself back?”
By reducing email use, Talio changed its workplace culture from an expectation to be “busy” with Mr Schokker leading the change.
“If you don’t practice what you preach, you lose credibility – as much as it’s spoken about, it has got to be actioned,” he said.
“We reworked mindsets by clearly stating the fact that employees are not expected to always be on call and that they can be just as valuable to the business with this change.”
Many organisations are in this mindset – in fact, Reventure’s research shows 46 per cent of workers say they feel “always on” and unable to completely shut off from work (2016 Snapshot of the Australian Workplace).
Mr Schokker said that reducing emails reinforces the importance for building and maintaining relationships face-to-face and increasing employee wellbeing.
DID YOU KNOW?
Most communication is non-verbal. Engaging with your employees face-to-face is a great way to show that you value your people and helps to develop a listening culture. (Renewing Australian Workplaces).