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Spare a thought for the poor soul in the office who is responsible for sending out company emails. Is that poor soul you? The thing is, how can you create internal emails that people within the business might actually want to read. You have a pretty decent message to get across, but the problem is conveying it in a way that staff might actually want to take the time to go through that very email.
So, what really is the problem about these emails? Why do they usually not engage the target audience? Firstly, it’s just a problem of attention. Attention spans are rapidly decreasing, and with the amount of information we are bombarded with, almost constantly, it’s very easy to see why. The second reason is because employees have been turned off these emails before with the same, boring style. They are usually overlong and lacking in real relevance. The result: people don’t want to read them.
And perhaps the most important reason concerns the company culture.
If these emails are the only mundane effort to engage employees, of course they will not be warmly received. As you will see, these hacks form part of a larger picture which stems from organizational culture and community. But these six hacks will undoubtedly help in terms of employee engagement. Here they are, ready to turn your internal communications into must-read pieces for the bulk of staff.
This one is obvious, but avoid the mundanities of most internal communications. Make the subject line short, sharp and attention-grabbing, and even use a bit of humor too. In-jokes are a nice way to include and engage staff. Don’t go over the top, but try to be a little different in your approach, and your first battle is won.
Don’t write your email like it’s the company handbook entry, or a policy. That will turn people off instantly. And make it relatable from the off, meaning that there is a buy-in that is immediately recognizable.
“Don’t start with the same dull pleasantries, but instead make your first sentence something eye-catching, but most importantly, something relevant to the vast majority of staff. If they think it’s about them, individuals will carry on reading,” warns Kate Baes, a recruiter at Academized and Australian Help.
This is also called the ‘inverted pyramid’ system where you detail the most important, need-to-know information first, and then continue on with the details. In this way, readers of the email can digest the most significant information first of all, and then can reference back to the details even at a later stage.
No one wants to be talked at, and that is the major problem with too many companies’ approach to their internal communications. Let your email encourage feedback and interaction (down the right channels of course), and let this be a dialogue, never a monologue.
Like the last point, you must point to a larger company culture of communication. Individual company emails are not going to do that on their own, so you must look at the bigger picture.
“If your emails are ineffectual, but there is nothing wrong with the emails, then it’s not your emails that are the problem, but the lack of community in your business. That needs a wider approach,” says Kevin Mooreland, an HR manager at Paper Fellows and Ox Essays.
And the point is, this all forms part of an employee engagement strategy. How do you go about engaging staff regularly? Does it begin with the onboarding process? It should. It might just be time for a review.
Standalone hacks, as you can see, will only get you so far if your email communication is not part of a greater organizational culture that truly values engagement with staff.
It must be regular, it must be open, it must be a dialogue (not one-way) and it must be integral to the community that you build within the workplace.
If the emails aren’t, then it doesn’t matter how witty and well-written they are, people will continue to ignore them.
Ellie Coverdale is a lifestyle and marketing writer at Boom Essays as well as at UK Writings. She has been involved in many projects down the years, which she has taken valuable learning experiences from, and she also teaches writing at Essay Roo.