Millennials value work-life balance more than health benefits or their own career advancement. And yet some spend more than a fourth of their waking hours checking email, more than any generation surveyed.
As it turns out, even Millennials think that's a problem.
Adobe's fourth annual Consumer Email Survey report polled more than 1,000 white-collar workers of all age groups older than 18. The results highlight an enduring obsession with email among those in their 20s and 30s and a divide between how workers of different age groups communicate.
According to the survey, workers between ages 25 and 34 spend 6.4 hours a day checking their email, with more than a third checking their work mail before they even get out of bed.
By comparison, those 35 and older spent roughly 5 hours a day on personal and work emails. Half of the people in this older group won't check their work email until they get into the office.
While both numbers seem high, those 34 and younger seemed especially focused on email, using it instead of tools like chat or text. They were more likely to check their mail in nearly every situation: while working out, talking on the phone and while out to eat with others. Younger workers were also most likely to say they check their emails while walking or while in the bathroom.
Those often defined as millennials and Gen-Z were among the most obsessed with reaching 'inbox zero,' otherwise known as deleting, responding or delegating an email as soon as its received. More workers 34 and younger described inbox zero as "amazing." Fewer in this group thought the idea of inbox zero was "impossible."
This obsession with inbox zero emerged despite a mostly balanced approach to email reported by workers as a whole. According to the report, two-thirds of all surveyed don't answer every email they receive.
Email has long been the best way to reach millennials, Kristin Naragon, Adobe's director of email solutions, tells CNBC Make It. And while they're less obsessive than they were just 4 years ago, even younger workers seem to realize they might be taking things too far. A third of those younger than 34 thought they checked their email way too often and that they should cut down.
The findings might reflect an economy where better jobs for younger workers are scarcer than they'd been for other generations. Other studies have found younger workers think more about work than their older counterparts, and were more concerned with finding better pay or benefits. Research has shown millennials are also more likely to feel job stress thanks to long hours and low pay and to see themselves as "work martyrs." Those in this group more often say they feel guilty about the little vacation time they do take.
Younger workers, raised on digital devices, might also over-depend on email. Those 34 and younger were less likely to use face-to-face conversations for nearly any work situation, from quick questions to important issues and requests for help. Only around half of those 18 to 34 thought quitting should be done in person.
Finding ways to chat off-email could help younger workers reclaim their day. After all, most workers never achieve inbox zero, likely thanks to the near 100 emails every worker sends and receives daily. Fewer emails could mean fewer worries for stressed-out younger workers — and fewer emails for everyone.
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