Too many workers know the dread which comes with that familiar “ping” from a work email landing, just as they‘re cooking dinner or giving the kids a bath.

Researchers now say the toll of being hassled by the office after-hours doesn‘t just come with getting that email, text or phone call – but the mere anticipation of it.

In our ultra-connected world, the line between our work and home lives has become increasingly blurred – and both can suffer when the double-up triggers anxiety.

Research has shown that the stress of increased job demands leads to strain and conflict in family relationships, when the employee is unable to help around the house because they‘ve brought work home to finish.


But has shown that expectations of availability to field calls or emails after-hours can cause the same problems.

Associate Professor William Becker, of Virginia Tech‘s Pamplin College of Business, said the insidious impact of “always on” culture was often unaccounted for by companies, or disguised as a benefit.

“Our research exposes the reality: ‘flexible work boundaries‘ often turn into ‘work without boundaries,‘ compromising an employee‘s and their family‘s health and wellbeing.”

Becker said policies that reduce expectations to monitor calls and emails outside of work would be ideal.

When that was not an option, the solution might be to establish boundaries when messages from the office were acceptable during off-hours, by setting up off-hour email windows or schedules when employees were available to respond.

Further, he said, those expectations should be spelt out clearly.

“If the nature of a job requires email availability, such expectations should be stated formally as a part of job responsibilities.”

Knowing these expectations upfront may reduce anxiety in employees and increase understanding from their family members, he said.

How bosses‘ pay affects layoff likelihood

CEOs who are paid less than their peers are four times more likely to engage in layoffs, according to new research. Photo / 123RF facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

Meanwhile, has found chief executives who are paid less than other CEOs are four times more likely to oversee layoffs.

“In terms of strategic decisions that a CEO can make that could lead to higher pay, layoffs are one of the easiest to do,” explained Assistant Professor Scott Bentley, of Binghamton University in the US.

“Relative to other decisions such as mergers or acquisitions, layoffs typically don‘t need the approval of shareholders, the board or regulators, and they don‘t take years to do.

“Layoffs can be determined overnight.”

Bentley and colleagues analysed data that included CEO pay and layoff announcements made by S&P 500 firms between 1992 and 2014 in the financial services, consumer staples and IT industries.

Adjusting the analysis for a number of different factors that could influence a layoff – such as industry conditions, company size and firm performance – the researchers found that the “underpaid” CEOs were four times more likely to announce a layoff, even when all of those other factors were accounted for.

“In a way, CEOs are just like any other type of employee,” Bentley said.

“They are going to compare their pay to those around them. The difference is that the average employee can‘t make strategic decisions for the company that influences their own pay. Executives can.”

Most surprising about the study findings was that the relationship between lower pay and the likelihood of layoffs all but disappeared when a CEO was paid more than his or her peers.

“Right around the point where CEOs are paid equal to their peers, the effect kind of goes away,” he said.

“We found that there‘s this huge dropoff in the likelihood of announcing layoffs once your pay is relatively the same as, or more than, your peers.”

He concluded the findings highlighted the importance of corporate governance and aligning the interests of the CEO with shareholders and employees.

“While we can‘t necessarily restrict a CEO‘s behaviour or motivations, there may be ways to restrict the extent to which they are rewarded or impacted by decisions such as layoffs.”

The dangers of ‘inconsistent‘ drinking

Unstable drinking patterns may be associated with a higher risk of heart disease while consistent moderate drinking may have a cardio-protective effect. Photo / 123RF facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit

You might want to rethink extending your dry July, Feb fast or sober October with UK research showing unstable drinking patterns may be associated with a higher risk of heart disease while consistent moderate drinking may have a cardio-protective effect.

UK researchers on 35,132 individuals, comparing people who followed UK sensible drinking guidelines to those who stopped drinking, inconsistently drank in moderation and reported no drinking over 10 years.

They found those who drank moderately had a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) than those in other groups, and female non-drinkers were also at higher risk.

The findings suggested that instability in drinking behaviour over time was associated with CHD risk.

This may be because unstable drinking patterns reflected wider lifestyle changes across the course of people‘s lives, including periods of ill-health or life stress, the authors said.

Lifestyle changes might also account for variations in risk the researchers observed when they compared different age groups.

“When we split the sample by age, we found that the elevated risk of incident CHD amongst inconsistently moderate drinkers was observed in participants aged over 55, but not those aged below,” said lead author Dr Dara O‘Neill, of University College London.

“It may be that the older group experienced lifestyle changes, such as retirement, which are known to co-occur with increases in alcohol intake and that these could have played a role in the differing risk.”