Why You Need a Company-Wide Email Policy to Improve Productivity
In our world of mobile devices and global companies, how do people in the business world communicate? Certainly through phone calls and video conferences, but email still reigns as the dominant form of communication. And, if it doesn’t already, your company should consider having a policy around email so that it is used both safely and efficiently by your employees.
How Many Emails Do You Process?
According to research by author and technology evangelist Robert Scoble, sending one email produces an average of 1.75 to 2 messages in return. Therefore, if I send out 100 emails in a day I will get an average of 200 back for a total of 300 emails processed in one day. Some business leaders share stories of processing over 400 emails daily and the technology-focused market research firm The Radicati Group has found that the average business user processed between 100 and 150 emails per day in the past two years. This equates to about two hours per day processing email, of which up to 85 percent of incoming email is not pertinent to the job at hand.
The Benefits of Email – It’s Not All Bad
While it can take up a lot of your workforce’s time, email isn’t all bad. It’s the standard of business communication for the following reasons:
1. Security. As compared to all other modes of electronic communication, email is considered the most trusted.
2. Targeted information. Surprisingly, more than half of the online Millennial generation (born between 1986 – 2000) are likely to subscribe to email in their search for ongoing deals or information.
3. Exclusivity. These same subscribers also opt in to receiving emails if they have a sense they are invited to an exclusive group or club.
Tips for Creating a Company-Wide Email Policy
Organizationally, leadership has to consider legal liabilities, regulatory compliance and confidentiality risks in an uberpolicy on company communications. For the purposes of this post, I will focus on four strategic considerations that will enable the workforce to be more effective and efficient in email:
1. Purpose. Clarify the purpose for which email should and should not be used, and send periodic reminders encouraging managers to discuss pairing the message with the most effective mode of communication.
2. Searchability. Indexing and searching email can be a frustrating exercise and costly in terms of lost man-hours, so common codes should be used for the subject line, e.g. FYA, FYI, etc.
3. Distribution list protocol. Specify when a distribution list should be used, and how and when the "reply all" function should be used by recipients of that list to cut down significantly on enterprise-wide volume levels.
4. CC Policy. Carbon copy and blind carbon copy practices should be spelled out clearly and re-enforced within each team to further reduce volume levels.
5. Liability. Senior management should remind staff that email is a legal document that can stand as evidence in a court of law. Thus, it is prudent to consistently discourage the use of company email accounts for personal email.
Lynne Tarter, SPHR
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