Thought Leadership

Frazzled employees, email overload – and one stressed click from risk

by Mark Bower
Published on 10th Apr 2019

I recently read this on-point article about email overload and its impacts. The report implies, unsurprisingly, that too many emails can be a productivity killer in enterprises, and too much time spent sending and receiving can be a real drain. But there’s more food for thought here: the impact on business risk when fatigue creeps in and productivity overload causes stress that leads to mistakes.

Every day, the average worker receives 121 emails and sends 40, which means the risk of fatigue-induced mistakes is high - and it only takes one mistake to cause a costly data breach. Scale to hundreds or thousands of employees, and it’s almost a certainty. Let’s say we have a company of 5,000 employees all using email. That’s 200,000 emails sent every day – but in reality I bet it’s far higher in most enterprises.

Our recent Data Privacy in 2019 research report into employee-led data breaches in US organisations puts this into perspective: 45% of employees admitted to accidentally sharing information to the wrong person. Although this is often washed over by enterprises, those 200,000 emails probably contain a good amount of very sensitive data that’s trusted to the employee hitting the send button, and trusted to a mistake-free process that clearly isn’t all that mistake-free!

Organisations getting ahead of employee-led data breaches are taking pro-active steps to mitigate – using intelligent platforms like Egress Intelligent Email Security and new risk-based techniques to pick up mistakes to help employees avoid rushing headlong into what could be a career-limiting incident.

So while 20 minutes to recover from a task might seem like a long time in the daily deluge – and it is in terms of basic productivity – think about how much productivity will be lost repairing the damage of a data breach. Whether that’s customer data going out to the wrong person, or commercial content being sent to the wrong company causing a lost bid or breaking a non-disclosure agreement – these incidents take days of remediation, if not months – and cost careers.

You can read about our study here to see how your perceptions compare to practice.