Welcome Wellness - E-Boundaries

Recently, many of us completed an “Employee Engagement Survey” which asked about several aspects of our job satisfaction, namely pride in the organization, intent to stay, willingness to recommend the organization to others, and overall satisfaction of employees. 

One of the indices was called “the resilience index” which consisted of 8 survey items that measure the ability of employees to recover and remain engaged even during challenging circumstances. 

Half were related to “activation” (e.g., finding meaning in the work and being able to focus on patients and clients as individuals) and the other half were related to “decompression” (e.g. the ability to disconnect from work, to not lose sleep over work). The results show that members of the Psychiatry Department’s “decompression” score was slightly lower than the National Health Care Average, suggesting that we are having difficulty disengaging from our day. While the problem is likely multifactorial, part of it may be the flow of all those emails. While email management may seem trivial, overwhelm with emails can be a stepping stone towards burnout.

Here are 5 steps you can take now to gain control of managing emails:

1. Get organized

  • Use your email system tools to create folders to organize messages by category
  • Set up rules that will automatically route messages into folders and/or label them according to your criteria
  • Unsubscribe from unnecessary bulk email 

2. Use specific language in your emails

  • Eliminate okay” or “thank you” messages. Consider using the phrase “Thank you in advance” or “NNTR = no need to respond” when sending a request
  • Use the reply all option with discretion, and only when all truly need to be included

3. Clarify expectations

  • Indicate email response time and after hours/weekend response expectations

4. Determine when it’s time to jump off email and move to another platform

  • When the number of emails has been excessive (more than three)
  • When the email would be too long (more than two paragraphs)
  • When you need an immediate response

5. Use proper etiquette

  • Be nice. Say hello first.
  • Use an informative subject line
  • One topic per email
  • Use SBAR (situation, background, assessment, recommendation)
  • Remember to list your contact information at the bottom


View all of Dr. Conroy's articles on the Welcome Wellness homepage.