Sunday night blues caused by emails, blurred boundaries – study


A study conducted by Channel 4, the University of Exeter and Investors in People has set out to find what employers can do to ‘Banish the Sunday Night Blues’.

Interviews with professionals from across the media industry have shown that triggers of the blues – or Sunday Scaries as they’ve also been dubbed – can include receiving emails over the weekend, unfinished work from the week before and self imposed pressure to perform.

Sunday Night Blues

The research was commissioned by Channel 4 after reports last year showed that more than two thirds of Britons suffer from feelings of anxiety and sleeplessness on a Sunday night.

Channel 4 People Director Kirstin Furber said: “Our study confirms that the Sunday Night Blues exist, and that they can negatively impact employee wellness and performance, and that’s something we should all be concerned about as employers.

“This is about supporting our people so they feel fresh and rested on a Monday morning, and ready to face the week ahead.”

Survey results of 650 respondents show that people experience energy dips on Sunday evenings and an increase to their energy levels on Monday mornings, which researchers believe can contribute to experiencing the Sunday Night Blues.

In interviews it was found that people who love their jobs also experience the Blues, so they are not confined to people unhappy at work.

The University of Exeter is now devising a toolkit, to be issued later this year, which will help employers ‘Banish The Sunday Night Blues’.

This will include suggesting people make a ‘to do’ list on a Friday for the week ahead, and organising positive interactions on a Monday so people have something to look forward to.

In the meantime Channel 4 said it will be testing some of the recommendations, with immediate effect.

Furber said: “At Channel 4 we’ll be suggesting some fixes, which are based on the feedback we received during the study.

“For example we’ll suggest that managers speak to their teams to ask them what would help them be at their best on a Monday, whether that’s a Monday morning check in and/or a Friday ‘check out’ to reflect on the past week. Also, as a manager try not to send emails during the weekend.”

Ilke Inceoglu, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and HR Management at the University of Exeter Business School, said: “Our research has shown that the blurring of boundaries between home and work can make the experience of Sunday Night Blues worse.

“The erosion of boundaries is an issue we have all experienced since lockdown and is something that impacts our wellbeing.

“By looking closely at employees’ experiences of the Sunday Night Blues and the factors that contribute to them, we are building a clearer picture of how organisations can tackle the problem.

“Emerging from our research are positive steps that line managers, HR professionals and employees can all take.”

Paul Devoy, Chief Executive of Investors in People, said: “We are extremely proud to be working closely with Channel 4 and the University of Exeter Business School on this research project.

“Every person at every level within an organisation, regardless of length of service, industry or working pattern, has experienced the Sunday night blues.

“I know I have! We must do more to identify the key causes and more importantly, the solutions to better support people and ultimately make work better.

“I am very excited about the next stage of this project, and hope that together with Channel 4 and the University of Exeter Business School, we are able to support as many organisations and individuals as possible to eliminate the Sunday night blues.”

Channel 4 said it is renowned for its pioneering approach to staff wellbeing. It introduced the media industry’s first Menopause Policy in 2019, as well as the world’s first Pregnancy Loss Policy for all employees, plus it trialled free hormone and reproductive health testing last year.