Information Overload Blog

How much do E-mails really cost your business?

E-mail spam has become part of our daily life. Every day these unwanted e-mail messages flood our inboxes and waste our precious time. But did you know a significant chunk of that e-mail spam is coming from inside our company, from our co-workers and even our bosses?

Even though internal e-mail spam seems pretty harmless, it is far from it. Chain letters, jokes and even ‘reply to all’ e-mails are costing companies a fortune. According to the National Technology Readiness Survey, the cost of internal spam as a result of productivity loss is $21.6 billion (!) every year in the US alone. This was based on the finding that the average Internet user spends about 3 minutes deleting internal spam every day.

How to reduce Internal E-mail Spam

Above anything else, solving the problem of internal e-mail spam requires a change in company culture and employee behavior. Read these 4 useful tips on how to do exactly that:

1. Set E-mail Rules

Make sure employees know what they can and cannot do.  Discourage them from using e-mail for non-work-related messages, but also prevent them from sending mass coporate e-mails to everyone in their contact list. Before they hit ‘send’ they should ask themselves the following question: is this e-mail truly relevant to this person? If the answer is ‘no’, abort mission!

2. Boost the Use of Intranet

Intranet tools are a great way to circumvent the use of internal e-mails. Want to share a document? Just save it in a shared file folder and it is accessible to everyone and anyone. No need to add bulky files to an e-mail anymore. The same goes for sending messages. Don’t compose an e-mail for every little thing that pops into your head, but connect with your co-workers via the messenger application. Have some company news you would like to make public? Even announcements can be easily communicated on the Intranet dashboard. “When used properly, Intranet can do an even better job at fostering collaboration and enabling faster communication than regular, old e-mails”, claims social Intranet software provider Noodle.

3. Use Alternative Communication Channels

E-mail is no doubt a valuable medium to transfer information between people, but it can also distract them from their work. Employers and corporate communicators recognize this, but keep bombarding their employees with useless e-mails none the less. The problem isn’t that they are necessarily jumping at the opportunity to send an e-mail, they just don’t have a clue how else to reach their staff. However, nowadays there are more effective communication channels to get the message across.  Desktop alerts at every work station, text and push notifications on mobile devices and messages on large displays, provide your employees with the latest company news and helpful information, without distracting them.

4.  Ban Internal E-Mail

The most extreme thing you can do is to ban internal e-mail altogether.  French company ‘Atos’, for example, blocked its employees from sending e-mails internally.  They made this decision after a survey pointed out that their average employee received 200 e-mails a day, of which only 10% were useful. In order to keep its employees communicating, the company replaced e-mail with social intranet tools. Now Atos only uses e-mail to reach external stakeholders.

Luc Bormans

Luc Bormans, Netpresenter's head of Marketing, is an expert in the field of Marketing Communications. In his spare time Luc likes to cruise around in his Mini Cooper.