Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Susan Guillory – President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. Her opinions are her own.
While email can be a great tool for engaging with your employees and communicating relevant news and information, it’s all too easy for your staff to ignore company emails. After all, the average worker receives 87 emails a day!
Sending too many internal emails or not paying enough attention to what you’re saying can turn employees off and disengage them. There are better ways to ensure that your emails actually accomplish what you want them to do.
But first, a word on employee engagement
Engaged employees are employees who will work hard for your company for years. And yet, 61% of employers have seen an increase in voluntary turnover over the past three years. That tells you that few companies are actually getting engagement right.
So what does engagement look like when it comes to your staff? It starts by putting yourself in your employees’ shoes rather than seeing things from the company’s perspective. What’s in it for your hard-working staff? What benefit are they getting from working here?
It might surprise you, but the email communications you send are a great place to start to better engage your team. It’s one of many little things that can either make an employee feel valued and respected…or taken advantage of, depending on how you handle it.
Let’s work on improving how you use email to communicate with your staff.
1. Realize your tone might be misunderstood
Please turn the report in by 5 today.
Please turn the report in by 5 today!!
In these examples, you could take each sentence to have a different tone. The first is neutral. The second could be seen as hostile or angry. Consider how your words and even punctuation can be perceived by the recipient.
Email communications, because they’re not accompanied by your facial expressions, have to be interpreted by employees, so make sure what you’re communicating doesn’t come across as aggressive or rude.
If there’s any doubt about how your message could be taken, don’t send the email. Walk over to your employee and discuss it in person, or at the very least, call them.
2. Use your company email
You might have multiple email addresses for business and personal, but stick to just your professional company email address for anything you send to your staff. Not only will it be easily recognized by them, but also, do you really want them seeing that your personal email address is SnookieSnookums123@gmail.com?
If you represent a department, use the department name so that people know who it’s coming from, like ‘Natrix HR’ or ‘Natrix Accounting.’
3. Don’t abuse the privilege
Just because you can email your employees doesn’t mean you should do so more than necessary. Just like your child is able to tune you out the more you talk, your employees will also start to ignore your emails if you send them constantly.
Before sending an email, ask yourself: is email the best platform for this communication? Would it be better for me to walk over and talk to this person or call? If you need to communicate with the entire company, certainly email can be effective, but don’t send a constant flood of emails, or that efficacy will wear off.
4. Have a goal with each email
In line with only sending emails that are necessary, decide what your goal is. Do you need to inform an employee of a schedule change? Get her the latest version of a report?
It’s not necessary to respond to every email either, particularly if you accomplish nothing in doing so beyond filling up the recipient’s inbox. If you get an email letting you know of a change, it probably isn’t necessary to reply “okay.”
5. Break out of the professional mold (when appropriate)
Your office probably isn’t stiff and professional all the time, so why should your emails be? It’s okay to send the occasional GIF or (appropriate) joke to make your team laugh. You may even get better engagement with your email if you pepper it with a little fun.
You could send an email to an employee thanking her for a job well done…or include a GIF to drive home your point and make them smile.
6. Don’t turn into a teenager
While it’s OK to be fun if you have that sort of relationship with your employees, don’t go overboard and turn into an emoji-generating, acronym-using teenager. There’s a fine line between appropriately casual and immature. Keep it professional.
7. Make the subject line specific
Your subject line should tell the recipient what to expect when opening the email, so avoid vague lines like “Important” or “Can you help?”
Especially if it’s urgent, say so in the subject line:
Urgent: Need your response by EOD today!
If you need something done by the person you’re sending the email to, say so:
I need you to run the reports for my presentation
The more specific you are, the quicker the response. A vague subject line could keep your email unopened in the inbox until the recipient has time to open it, but if she knows she needs to take care of something urgently, she will.
8. Consider whether email is the best channel
While email can be helpful, it isn’t always. If you are assigning tasks, you run the risk of your email getting lost with the rest of the slush. A project management tool may be a better solution to assign tasks to an employee, add the deadline to her calendar, and remind her as the deadline looms.
If you just need a quick answer to a question, an interoffice messaging platform is great. If employees install the software on their desktops, they’ll get a notification whenever you send a message and they can reply instantly. If they are busy working on a project, they can set notifications to Do Not Disturb and respond to you later.
And of course you always have the old-fashioned communication channels of calling or talking in person! Don’t rely on technology to the point that you get away from human interaction, because it is key to engaging your staff.
If you put just a little forethought into how you use email to reach your employees, you can get better results. Just keep in mind that your email should have a purpose, and never abuse the privilege.