David Taylor offers guidance on putting in place a company e-mail policy that is fair to everybody
Forget the dotcom hype, mobile technology and the Internet - the biggest growth area of the new business age by far is e-mail, and this brings a huge opportunity for HR leaders.
E-mails feed our reactive, rather than responsive behaviour, often failing to make the points intended, and are too often used as an alternative to other means of contact. As one of the most public, powerful and prevalent forms of communication, there is a need for caution, care and clarity and, once this is done, it can be hugely positive.
can set a company trend in HR by doing the following:
- Make e-mails friendly (write Dear name, and always end on a friendly note)
- Use the term “we” rather than “you” and always put yourself in the place of the recipient - reading through what you have written before you send it
- Ensure that the quality of e-mails we send is as good as those we receive.
may be time to put in place company guidance, covering the key issues:
Information on other companies
To avoid litigation do not use e-mail to discuss competitors, potential acquisitions or mergers, or to give your opinion about another company. The word confidential simply does not apply to electronic communication - somebody else in your organisation can always access it.
Many companies are concerned about the growing numbers of non-work related correspondence. The key words here are guidelines and trust. Put in place a clear policy that gives some freedom, but ensure staff know the boundaries on time and content. Manage your staff by giving them ownership and responsibility.
It is one thing to misunderstand the sender’s intent, quite another to deliberately attack someone by e-mail. Business bullying is now recognised by industrial tribunals as a form of illegal behaviour in itself.
The cases of this, and stalking over e-mail, are growing. Company policy must be extended to include this area and should lead to dismissal. Encourage people to come forward with evidence and make it clear that all e-mails are held on the mainframe or network