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Alumni help needed for research study on workplace email

January 13, 2017

Employer expectations that emails will be monitored and responded to during nonwork hours may lead to emotional stress and exhaustion and ultimately hurt job performance.
Bill Becker's study found that employer expectations that emails will be monitored and responded to during nonwork hours are the main reason employees are unable to disconnect from the workplace. The emotional stress and exhaustion that may result have a negative effect on the individual’s well-being and, ultimately, job performance.

Virginia Tech alumni — your help is needed for a research study about workplace use of email and other electronic communications.

Bill Becker, associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business, is working on a follow-up study to his recent research project, which has been reported on by numerous media outlets.

That study found that employer expectations that emails will be monitored and responded to during nonwork hours are the main reason employees are unable to disconnect from the workplace. The emotional stress and exhaustion that may result from such expectations have a negative effect on the individual’s well-being and, ultimately, job performance.

“That study raised a number of important questions that we would like to investigate,” said Becker. “My co-researchers and I are reaching out to alumni at our universities for their perspective as working adults.”

Becker invites alumni who are currently working more than 30 hours a week to help by completing a survey.

Survey participants will also be asked to provide email addresses for a manager at their company and, if applicable, the participant’s significant other.

All responses will be kept confidential, Becker said. “Only general findings from the study may be published. Names or any other identifying information will not be disclosed in the study or to the managers.”

For every complete survey that also includes a complete manager or spouse survey, the researchers will donate $1 to the general fund of Virginia Tech.

In addition, Becker said, individuals who complete the survey and have a complete manager or spouse survey will be entered into a drawing for several mini iPads. “And everyone who completes a survey will have the option of receiving a summary of the study’s findings.”

Becker adds that he and his co-researchers at Colorado State University and Lehigh University hope to recruit more than 1,000 alumni participants for the survey among their three institutions.

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. For questions related to participating in the survey, please contact Becker at beckerwj@vt.edu.

Alumni can access the survey here.

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