If your business is like the vast majority of modern companies, email is by far your top  communication medium. You use it for lengthy monologues, quick conversational exchanges, and the provision and receipt of important attachments like documents and pictures.

But even then, you probably underestimate just how much time you and your employees spend on email--email time varies, of course, but usually occupies more than half your day. (You can use The Washington Post's calculator to generate a rough estimate for your own use.)

If your employees aren't using email effectively, it could account for dozens of hours of lost time every week--without you or them ever knowing about it. So what can you do to figure out if this is happening, and identify the root causes so you can stop it from happening?

Email Analytics

There are various email analytics apps available, but they mostly focus on sales analytics, such as response rates, open rates, and conversion rates. Yesware, Bananatag, and Mixmax are good options for sales email analytics.

But, while sales email analytics are great at helping you understand the efficacy of your outreach campaigns, they don't tell you how productive you're being with your time. For those insights, we need email productivity analytics, and there's an aptly-named tool that specializes in such insights called EmailAnalytics. The tool enables you to visualize data from your own Gmail account, or that of your employees.

The platform provides data visualizations for the following productivity metrics and more:

  • Number of emails sent and received. First, you can gauge an approximate workload for each employee based on the number of emails they send and receive each day. Employees who email more frequently are usually busier than their counterparts (though this isn't a firm rule in all cases). You can also see if anyone has a disproportionate number of sent and received messages; if they get a lot of messages, but never respond to any, it's a sign they may not be pulling their weight.
  • Top senders and recipients. You can also track the top senders and recipients within your organization (and among your client base as well). Oftentimes, there will be an outlier or two skewing the numbers because they email far more frequently than the average user; in many cases, this will lead to lost productivity, as their recipients struggle to keep up with the unnecessarily high volume.
  • Email thread metrics. Email threads, or conversations, occur when users send multiple emails back and forth, sometimes within a group. You can examine these threads in greater detail, analyzing who's starting the most email threads, and how many messages it takes to resolve a conversation in full.
  • Average response times. The app gives you access to one of the most obvious productivity metrics: response time. You can see how long your employees take to respond to emails, and how long it takes recipients to respond to them, on average. The lower these times are, the better, but only to a point--times that are too low could be an indication of rushing through replies without thinking them through thoroughly.

These metrics are certainly interesting, but how can they help you find and address productivity problems within your team?

Three Steps to Success

You can improve your team's email productivity in three main steps:

  1.  Gather data. Compare your employees' data against one another. Determine who's sending the most emails, who's wasting time needlessly on emails, and whether there are any high-level problems running throughout your organization (such as a tendency to carry on email threads too long).
  2. Make an action plan. At this point, the ball is in your court. Put together an action plan that addresses these root causes. For example, you might institute new protocols for how and when to send emails, or have a conversation with a client about how much they email your team. In extreme cases, you may consider a change in personnel or a re-balance of your client portfolio.
  3. Review and follow-up. Make sure to take measurements of your progress after instituting your changes as well. In some cases, the data may represent a problem other than your initial suspicion. If that's the case, you'll need to make a new change, and see if you can remedy the real source of the problem.

Managing employees with a close eye on productivity isn't something that can be solved with the integration of a single platform, but once you have the objective data in front of you, it will be easier to make the right decisions.

Email is demanding of employee time and attention, so the sooner you can tighten up your productivity there, the more efficient your organization will become.