Survey: Chances Are, Your Employees Aren’t Reading Your Emails

Survey: Chances Are, Your Employees Aren’t Reading Your Emails

Updated January 23rd, 2023

If you’ve ever felt like no matter how well you word corporate emails you just can’t get the message across, there’s a good reason for that: new workplace communication statistics show 60.8% of respondents ignore emails in the workplace.

Most employees feel overwhelmed by their email inbox at some point in their careers, but as an HR professional, this presents a particularly tricky situation. It’s hard to help improve employee work satisfaction and workplace culture if your main way of contacting your staff is through email — something that burdens people to the point they don’t want to check it.

Fortunately, email isn’t the only way to contact your employees. In many situations it’s not even the method they prefer the most. Here’s what we discovered about email in the workplace and statistics on communication. 

Key Findings on Email in the Workplace

  • Nearly half (47.7%) of respondents said receiving fewer emails at work would help to increase their job satisfaction. Forget the ping-pong tables and swag, people just want a smaller inbox.
  • Almost two-thirds (60.8%) of respondents ignore emails at work. Also, about a third (34%) of those surveyed said they sometimes ignore HR emails. A total of 5.7% of respondents indicated they always ignore emails from HR. That means, at any given time, there could be about 40% of the workplace who aren’t reading emails from the HR department.
  • A full 30% of employees indicate they never check their email after hours. If you have something important employees need to know before the next business day, sending an email probably won’t make an impact on about a third of your workforce.
  • When it comes to timely notifications and emergency alerts from the HR department, 43.9% of respondents said sending a text, not an email, is the best way to reach them.

About 1 in 2 employees say fewer emails means more happiness

As an HR professional, you’re probably always trying new ways to increase workplace satisfaction. Whether that’s theme days, team challenges, or great snacks in the break room chances are you’ve tried it all. But have you thought of simply implementing ways to reduce inbox clutter for your employees? Our statistics on communication found that 47.7% of respondents said that would help. Almost half your workforce would be happier at work with just a small change.

Action steps to take

How can you help reduce workplace emails?

  • Start chatting: If you’re not already using a company-wide chat platform, it’s time to start experimenting. Slack is one of the most popular solutions but you could even improvise by using the chat function of Skype, Zoom, or G Chat.
  • Use email alternatives: Sometimes you do need to send a message to a large group of employees and chat isn’t the right method. But you don’t necessarily have to default to email in the workplace. Business text messaging is becoming a popular solution for HR professionals who want to lay off emails but need to send a mass message. You can segment your workforce so that you only send text messages to certain teams, or send a broadcast text message to the entire company at once. You can even include trackable links within your message if you need employees to take action. 
  • Think before you send: Let’s face it: sometimes email really is the best way to send a message. If you know nothing will get the job done like a good email, that’s fine. Just pause before you send to make sure you’ve collected all the information possible in your email so you only have to send one, instead of many additional emails to provide follow-up information.

2 in 5 employees ignore HR emails in the workplace

Even though emails from the HR department are important to ensure internal processes and procedures run smoothly, 34% of workers who responded to our survey said they sometimes ignore them. When combined with the 5.7% of respondents who said they always ignore HR emails, this could mean that about 40% of employees aren’t reading your text blasts.
In addition to that, we surveyed employees to find out how often they ignore any email that comes into their inbox (whether HR or another sender). Almost half (45.6%) of respondents said they occasionally ignore emails at work, 12.4% said they often ignore emails at work and 2.8% said they always ignore emails at work. In total, 60.8% of respondents said they are ignoring at least some emails in their inbox.

Action steps to take 

How can you make sure important HR messages are actually getting across to employees?

  • Speak up: If you don’t already have time set aside for the HR department to update employees during weekly team meetings, talk about how you can add HR to the agenda regularly. Providing an update and answering questions in a weekly meeting could eliminate a lot of back and forth throughout the week. Plus, if there is an email that employees need to watch for, you can give them the heads up at this meeting so they’ll know not to ignore it.
  • Diversify your communication: You probably don’t need to send an email for every message you want to convey. Decide what information is better suited for chat and mass texting. Relying on email for longer or more detailed messages that are sent less frequently.

Only about 1 in 10 employees always check their email after hours

Few people enjoy working in the evenings or early mornings, but sometimes there are reminders or notifications that need to be sent to prepare employees for the next work day. These could include emergency alerts, weather warnings, major announcements, or reminders.

Our statistics on communication showed only 11.9% of respondents always check their email after work hours. While 19% said they often check their email after work, the majority of people, 39.1%, said they only occasionally check email after hours. In addition to that, 30% of respondents said they never check their email after they’re done for the day. If you need to get an important message across after employees are off the clock, email might be a risk — especially when you consider that text messages have a 98% open rate

Action steps to take

Any message you send after-hours that needs to be read before the next work day is probably important. Here are some ways to make sure it doesn’t get missed.

  • Create options: Don’t rely on just one form of communication for after-hours contact. Ask employees how they would prefer to be contacted when they’re off the clock, and let them choose what’s best for them. 
  • Ask for input: Make sure your employees feel they have a reliable way to provide input on what the communication process looks like for after-hours contact. If they know you’re open to hearing what a better solution for them might be, chances are you’ll help encourage workplace satisfaction just by letting them know they’re seen and heard.
  • Send out surveys: Along the lines of what we mentioned previously around SMS, text messaging surveys are a fast and easy mechanism for collecting feedback of any kind.

43.9% of respondents prefer text notifications in emergencies

You don’t want to wait for disaster to strike before you discover that your emergency communication strategy isn’t as smooth as it could be. Whether it’s a weather event, dangerous scenario, or even a burst pipe, if you need to get the word out immediately to your staff you’ll need to use a form of communication that reaches them instantly. When we asked workers what the best way to contact them in an emergency is, 43.9% said using a text blast service would be optimal.

Just in case you think it’s only millennials who text, the ratio for people who wanted a text message versus a phone call or email was even higher when we separated the age groups. Our statistics on communication found that among our respondents aged 18-34, 41.85% preferred text message emergency alerts. A full 48.85% of 35-44-year-olds preferred to be texted about emergencies at work and for workers, in the 45-54-year-old range 44.57% wanted a text.

Action steps to take

Here’s how you can get employees set up to receive emergency text alerts from you:

  • Choose a text alert platform. You’ll want a text alert service that will enable you to send texts from your desktop or through a mobile app — you never know what will be easier in an emergency.
  • Select a textword. This is the keyword your employees will text to your short code to give their consent to receive emergency text notifications from you. You’ll want it to be something unique but also simple and easy to spell.
  • Encourage employees to sign up. Get the word out that you have an emergency texting plan in place by advertising throughout the workplace and mentioning it in weekly meetings. You can also incentives employees to sign up by creating a text-to-win contest to drive sign-ups.

Send Mass Texts with SlickText

Ready to substitute mass texting for email in the workplace? Get started today with a free trial, and get in touch with our team if you have any questions.


Survey Methodology:

Results for this survey were conducted online via Pollfish, collecting over 1,000 responses on May 22, 2019. Respondents were based in the United States and employed for wages.