How much does an email cost?

To identify the cost of an email, we must first identify an average salary and define the amount of staff working within a business or school environment. For argument sake... let's say there are 150 staff within a school including teachers and administration and that the average salary is $40.00 per hour. We should now be able to calculate the cost of an email.

If an email took one minute to read from start to end and was distributed to 150 employees the total amount of time taken to read the email would be equivalent to two and a half hours. Based on our identified average salary the total cost of the email is $120.00 of lost productivity. This cost distributed across an organisation means each email costs $0.80.

Emails may take longer than one minute to process and in result the cost of each email is $1.00. While there may be no obvious physical cost for an email the management of emails can impact on employee productivity and therefore result in lost work performance. Hardware and infrastructure are an incurred cost of email and this expense varies for every business structure. In summary and in very basic terms, I calculate the average cost of an email between $0.50 and $1.00.

Every Monday I distributed an email to 210 staff. If I were to send this email with incorrect links, spelling mistakes and other errors and had to resend the email the cost of lost productivity would be significant. An emails distributed to 210 staff costs $168.00. If the email was corrected and resent then the total cost is approximately $336.00 in lost work productivity. For this reason it is essential for businesses to educate employees to use email wisely and for every individual to ensure the content of an email is important and accurate.

I have nine suggestions in regards to email distribution;
  • Include only relevant personnel
  • Use Subject Title
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Test all hyperlinks prior to forwarding an email
  • Keep emails brief
  • Use bullet points to summarize information
  • Use 'To', 'CC' and 'BCC' to reduce impact on productivity for various audiences
  • Use personal contact and face-to-face discussion when suitable
  • Don't forward 'Weekly Funnies', Chain Letters, Virus Notices, Junk Mail or Advertisements

I have received emails before that have been an epistle. The contents included paragraphs and paragraphs of information that was distributed to a wide audience. If this email were to take three minutes of time to read... which it did... the lost productivity for the workforce could be in excess of $420.00. If this email was distributed again with updated information... which it was... almost $1000 of lost productivity would occur. Emails are an expensive operation. It is imperative for schools to establish or use methods of communication to limit email use to reduce costs and loss of productivity. Daily Notices, Weekly Bulletins, Public Announcements and Social Media can limit email traffic.

Emails can become a burden and can fill the Inbox of every employee faster than they can be handled. Schools must encourage staff and students to use emails wisely and provide instruction in creating Email Rules. This will assist the management of messages to reduce hidden business costs. I encourage explicit instruction in what can and cannot be emailed to promote work productivity and reduce unnecessary pressure. Ultimately if email etiquette is not addressed it will remain an ongoing cost for organisations.


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