Human Resources

More E-Mail Etiquette Tips for Your Training

By Bridget Miller

Yesterday’s Advisor provided e-mail etiquette tips from Bridget Miller that you should incorporate into employee training. Today Miller provides more tips that can help your employees keep their day-to-day communications polite and effective.

  • Clear and accurate subject lines are beneficial in helping the recipient with context. Subject lines should clearly indicate the subject and possibly even the required action. Having a clear and accurate subject line also helps with organizing messages and with being able to search for the conversation in the future. Subject lines should be changed and/or a new e-mail thread started if the conversation changes to a new topic.
  • Some things should not be put in e-mail. For example, employees should understand what they can and cannot promise to customers; putting something in writing—even in e-mail—can create a liability for the employer.
  • Grammar and spelling are important for clarity and professionalism. Just because e-mail is simple does not mean it would not benefit from proofreading. This is still a business document and should be treated accordingly. This also goes for keeping punctuation professional—avoiding excessive exclamation points, abbreviations, emoticons, etc. E-mails should have complete words and sentences.
  • “Reply all” is not always the best bet. Think twice about whether all original recipients need to be copied on the response. Sometimes the answer is yes, but sometimes this simply creates unnecessary e-mails for those who are copied.
  • It is never acceptable to harass others. Jokes are not always funny to the recipient; e-mail is not the place for them.
  • E-mails are not private and should not be used for confidential or sensitive information. For example, employees (and employers) should not send information like social security numbers or account numbers over e-mail.
  • Response time matters. What is acceptable may vary by company, person, and project. For example, some projects require immediate responses. Others may be fine with a response within 24 hours. It may be helpful to outline general guidance on how timely a response is expected at the organizational level.
  • E-mail attachments should have professional names that relate to the attachment itself.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to e-mail etiquette. Does your organization have an e-mail etiquette policy? Are there formal or informal rules followed for e-mails within the organization and/or to clients?