HR emails aren’t employees’ favorites. When you consider that they get swamped with emails daily, you’ll understand why.
On the other hand, HR managers also don’t have it easy. You need to convey relevant information to dozens or maybe hundreds of different employees. Ensuring that the message is clear and that everyone is on the same page can be a real challenge.
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The key to breaking the barriers in communication lies in writing effective emails.
Email is the most common method for sharing information in HR. Boosting your email writing skills can eliminate misunderstandings and ensure a smooth flow of communication.
Do you want to grab the attention of your email recipients and get them to read the emails? Then, follow these tips and improve your HR email communication strategy.
First and foremost, you need to put yourself in the recipients’ shoes. Instead of just focusing on what you need to say, take a different approach – focus on how recipients will perceive it.
Ask yourself: Is this too harsh? How will this seem to them? Can I express this more clearly?
Stay away from one-size-fits-all emails. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to read through the whole email just to find one point that refers to you. Show consideration for employees and segment messages.
Sending bulk emails with jumbled info may seem less time-consuming. But keep in mind that many employees won't even read such an email. Consequently, you’ll have to repeat the email content in the near future.
The subject line is the determining point. If it’s not well-written, there is a high chance that your email will get ignored.
A snappy and concise summary of the email is your best bet. Sentence-long subject lines are less likely to engage the recipients.
Here are some suggestions on how you can write subject lines that will grab attention:
• Be clear about the topic of the email
• Make it short
• Use action verbs
• Place the most relevant information at the beginning
• Be descriptive
Think about it like this: which email would you rather open:
• Invitation: A New Sales Webinar on April 5
• News from the Sales Department
You would open the first one, right? The second subject line is too vague and employees can dismiss it as irrelevant.
In their pursuit of respect and acknowledgment, HR managers can write overly formal emails. Remember that you are all experts in some field in the company. You don't need to prove your expertise to anyone.
Understand that you are writing primarily to people. Technical words, complex sentences, flashy terms, and formal tone can kill the engagement and make the email more difficult to read.
The goal is to provide digestible and readable information. Achieve that goal by finding that balance between professionalism and friendliness. You can respect the office etiquette and be friendly at the same time.
Write in everyday language, be respectful, use simple terms, and short sentences. That’s your recipe for comprehensive email communication.
When an employee opens an email from HR, a thought “What is this about?” pops up. If you don’t explain the purpose of the email fast, you can lose their interest.
Let the golden rule “one topic per one email” be your guide. Introduce a single point within an email.
Dismiss any desire to get into lengthy storytelling. You are writing to busy people with no time to lose. Writing concise and straightforward emails will show respect for their time.
The employees want to quickly consume the essential information. Justify the importance of the email by placing the key points at the beginning. If you must include some less relevant info, leave it for the end of the email.
Be direct and clearly state the crucial information. Try to group the essentials so that they don’t get lost in different paragraphs.
The email’s readability isn’t influenced solely by what you write. The form of the email body plays a role as well.
A block of text is never a good way to share information. You want to help the readers skim the email and spot the key points with ease.
Applying certain methods can improve your email's readability. Here are a few suggestions:
• Stick to the proper email format (salutation, body text, signature)
• Write in short paragraphs
• Add spaces between paragraphs
• Use short sentences
• Highlight keywords with bold text
• Use bullet points and numbering to list facts, guidance, or tasks
Skimmable emails can make a world of difference for the readers. The content will be more engaging. Also, you’ll make it possible for them to go back to that email and revise it within seconds.
Sometimes there is no way around detailed emails.
There will be situations that demand lengthier explanations. If you don’t provide them, you’ll trigger an avalanche of emails with requests for more information.
For example, when you are referring to a past email or conversation, jog the employee’s memory. Writing “Based on what I’ve emailed you on Friday…” can leave the recipient with a puzzled look on his face. Not to mention that he’ll have to go back, look for the email, and re-read it to understand what you are talking about.
Whenever a topic asks for details, provide them. This is where you should apply the structuring tip. If you are sharing with the recipients with some new rules or guidelines, listing them with bullet points or numbers is the best option.
For communication to be effective, you need to estimate when you can cut it short and when you must go all out.
HR managers sometimes need to deliver less pleasant information. As hard as it can be, honesty is the best recipe for dealing with such instances.
Wrapping up bad news in a pretty package won’t make it less bad. Beating around the bush can only frustrate employees. Not to mention that you can get stuck in a back and forward communication trying to explain what exactly is happening.
Deliver bad news respectfully but directly. This doesn’t mean that you should be harsh. “You have completely embarrassed the company” isn’t an acceptable approach. What honesty in email communication means is that you shouldn't string the employees along with false claims.
Email recipients can’t hear the tone of the message. They can only read what stands in front of them. Here lies the issue with humor over email.
You might have a closer relationship with some of the employees, but humor should be reserved for face-to-face encounters.
Emails are permanent. Trying to pull out sarcasm in an email can lead to big misunderstandings.
Being friendly is fine, but throwing in ambiguous jokes isn’t suitable for business correspondence.
Companies with a more laid-back work environment often support the use of emoticons. There is nothing wrong with adding a smiley face or thumbs up here and there. However, if you overdo it, it can hurt your image.
Use emoticons only when you find them appropriate. For example, if the recipient is your good friend and colleague.
In case you are writing to someone outside of your company (such as a potential employee), stick to a more professional writing style. Keep in mind that your emails represent the company.
Grammar and spelling mistakes can signal sloppiness. That's not how you want to be portrayed.
Making a mistake now and then is human. No one will judge you for that. But when error-filled emails become your signature, that’s a problem.
It only takes a minute to give your email a second look. You can even use online tools like Grammarly for a quick check-up.
In addition, rereading the email can help you spot inconsistencies, repetition, or confusing statements. This will give you a chance to polish up the text and make it more comprehensible.
The small investment of proofreading your emails can make a big difference in your email writing.
There you have it – 10 steps that can lead to improved email communication. It might take a while until you hone the email writing skills, but it is worth it.
Writing effective HR emails will make your job much less stressful. You will be able to convey information in the right way and establish good communication with other professionals. Taking that into consideration, every minute you invest in improving emails will pay off.
Jessica Fender is a copywriter and blogger at GetGoodGrade with a background in marketing and sales. She enjoys sharing her experience with like-minded professionals who aim to provide customers with high-quality services.
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