Overseeing Use of Email
While it may not be subject to a strict policy, use of email and electronic communication policing often falls to HR. But sometimes there are specific personnel policies implicated such as social media, confidentiality, use of company devices, or harassment policies. Effective email use and email etiquette are important even if no policy applies. Consider whether a primer on email for your employees would be helpful. There are probably countless topics that you could cover, but here are some of my areas of concern:
1. Subject line. It is beneficial to describe the topic in the message line, whether by project or client or task. That helps the recipient identify what is important and stay organized.
2. Unnecessary use. Email can turn into a game of hot potato. Also, there are often innocuous or unclear replies that serve no purpose. If the message does not advance the conversation, don’t send it.
3. Case and punctuation matter. ALL CAPS ARE HARD TO READ and akin to yelling. Lack of punctuation can compromise clarity.
4. Control over destination. Remind employees that once a message is sent, its final destination is out of the sender’s hands. What was meant as a simple comment or snide remark can be distributed to co-workers, customers, or competitors.
5. Security and safety. Recall that sending email can resemble sending a postcard through the mail. It, along with its attachments and information about its participants, can be seen or obtained by others unless encrypted or protected.
6. Record. Email can create a record of information when there need not be one. The volume of communication through email is staggering, and consideration of the implications of sending messages is often ignored.