Crush Email Overload by Shifting to an Enterprise Social Network

How to eliminate email overload

Email overload is a common gripe of countless employees. According to a recent study by the Radicati Group, employees send and receive an estimated 110 emails a day, and it’s expected to increase to 125 by 2015. Email hasn’t gotten easier to manage — it’s gotten harder! Building an enterprise social network might just be the answer to your problems. Here’s why:

McKinsey estimates that 25 to 30 percent of total email time could be saved if a company leveraged an enterprise social network as their principle communications channel. Additional benefits of social networks include increased collaboration, knowledge sharing, and employee engagement as well as improved productivity.

“Reply All” is NOT Collaboration

Have your ever worked on a team that emits a steady stream of emails throughout the day fueled by the infamous “Reply All” button? Recently, it took me over 10 minutes to sift through 20+ messages to uncover the core message and my assigned next steps. Arrgh! Email is downright inefficient for group communications, plus you run the risk of leaving a key employee off of the distribution list, and compromising the project.

Social networks such as IBM Connections, Yammer, Jive, Chatter, MoxieSpaces, NewsGator, tibbr, SocialCast, etc. are better equip to manage internal communications and project collaboration. Organizational announcements can be broadcasted on the online network and employees can post comments. Project teams can set up shared spaces to post announcements, timelines, action items, deadlines, etc. plus solicit input and encourage brainstorming and discussion. File sharing features ensure that revisions are synced and you’re working on the most up-to-date copy. Employees can locate required knowledge faster, ask for specific input and reduce unwanted responses generated from the generic “Reply All”. The online space evolves into where you go to find all of your information and how you communicate, verse your email inbox.

Value of Enterprise Social Networks

Online collaboration tools provide a new level of transparency and reduce the reliance on email. A recent Gartner Report predicted that more than 50% of large companies would have enterprise social networks by 2015. Do you think enterprise social networks can end our love-hate relationship with email? I look forward to your comments.



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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.

Reader Interactions


  1. Geo Mihalache says

    It’s an idea, but it works only for part of the emails we receive daily. In HR we handle a lot of confidential information – contracts, payroll lists, sensitive reporting, all encrypted and sent to only a few “special” recipients. For these old email styles need to be kept unfortunately. I personally used to receive indeed over 100 emails/day out of which more than a half placed me in cc.

    What we can do about these – maybe more short regular meetings where the team can quickly give me a summary of the latest info and spare me the emails.

    Kind Regards,

    • Lisa Bonner says

      Thanks for your comment Geo. I agree- email plays a key role in the workplace, especially in HR, Legal and Marketing when you’re sending confidential information.

      I post updates on our social network and the get the team together when we need to discuss, brainstorm or make a group decision. It saves time and people appreciate being able to read the updates vs. being told what they’ve already read online. Try it for two weeks and let me know how it goes.


  2. Jill Beckett says

    Great article and I couldn’t agree more. Coming off a 4-day Vacation weekend, I spent the last evening of my Vacation sifting through the 100+ e-mails I received just so I didn’t waste half my 1st day reading and re-reading e-mail trails and starting another .behind. I’m sure many out there can relate. Out of the 100+ e-mails, approximately 10 were those I had to take action on. This is a huge waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, e-mail is a great tool, however it is greatly over-used. I am a huge proponent for collaboration tools to streamline communications however changing the culture to move from e-mail to other collaboration tools can be difficult. I feel it is just what folks are comfortable with. However the more they know, and more importantly, understand how it can be applied to their organization, the more attractive it will be.

    • Lisa Bonner says

      Thanks for your illustrative example Jill! I agree that its hard to get employees to shift to leveraging collaboration tools vs. email. I’d suggest coupling the technology implementation with a change management plan to ensure that you get the desired change in behaviors.

  3. Sanjay Abraham says

    Email is a 40 year old technology without much of change. Social collaboration for internal teams can improve the productivity and also make employees life easy. And trust me “Reply to all” is not collaboration- its spamming:)

    • Lisa Bonner says

      Thanks for your comment Sanjay. I agree that internal social networks can really make teams more productive.


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