Pandemic Applying Pressure on Personal Time

Majority of Professionals Feeling More Obligated to Work After-Hours, According Korn Ferry Survey

Los Angeles, Dec. 14, 2021 – With the majority of professionals still working remotely, a new Korn Ferry survey shows it’s harder than ever to separate work and personal time.

More than three-quarters of respondents (76%) say the expectation to return after-hours emails/calls has increased since the pandemic began.

Although more than half (54%) of respondents say their company should have a rule that prohibits work calls and emails after hours, 88% say they still send emails and take calls past the regular business day.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they feel obligated to immediately return emails and take work calls, and 69% say they have had a boss who regularly expects them to respond outside of workday hours.

“Several countries have or are looking to put in place legislation that limits managers’ abilities to encroach on worker’s personal time with nighttime calls and emails, but in the U.S., such efforts have achieved little traction,” says Bradford Frank, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s Technology Practice. “The continued practice of always being connected to work can have unintended detrimental effects like chronic stress and fatigue.”

While 57% of respondents say the top reason to respond to work calls and emails is to keep moving things forward, 76% say consistently being expected to work after hours would make them less productive.

“While managers often do not think twice about emailing after hours or on weekends, encouraging employees to stay in constant communication can actually hurt their job performance and contribute to burn-out and a lack of job satisfaction,” says Frank. “While there inevitably will be situations where an issue must be dealt with immediately, our advice is to really think about whether the topic is critical enough to warrant after-hours communications.”

About the survey: 476 professionals responded to the late November 2021 Korn Ferry survey.

Survey responses

Do you feel obligated to immediately return work emails and take work calls, even after hours? 

Yes                                                                              73%

No                                                                               27%

Do you send work emails/take work calls outside of normal office hours? 

Yes                                                                              88%

No                                                                               12%

What is the top reason to send or respond to emails and make calls outside of normal work hours? 

I am passionate about my job                                    18%

My managers/co-workers expect me to                     25%

To keep things moving forward                                   57%

Should your company have a rule that prohibits sending/responding to emails outside of work hours? 

Yes                                                                              54%

No                                                                               46%

Have you ever had a boss that regularly expected you to respond to emails and take calls after hours? 

Yes                                                                              69%

No                                                                               31%

What would happen to your productivity if you were expected to regularly respond to after-hours emails and calls? 

It would make me less productive                              76%

It would make me more productive                            24%

Has the expectation to respond to after-hours calls and emails increased or decreased since the pandemic began? 

Yes                                                                              76%

No                                                                               24%

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

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