It’s frustrating. You are an HR specialist, supervisor, or director who is responsible for communicating important information to the organization’s employees. There may be changes in benefits, new benefit options, changes in leave policies and request procedures, and much more. And yet, the analytics you have in place indicate that, even if there are open, the amount of time spent reading these emails is far too short for those recipients to have actually absorbed the content. You also know this because employees appear in your offices making requests that indicate they have not read those emails.
How do you correct this?
The short answer is you have to make your emails less boring, so those already busy employees will pause and take notice. The longer answer is that this may involve changing your email communications so that they engage and compel your employees to open them. Here are six strategies for writing effective emails that just might work for better communication in the workplace.
6 Critical HR Email Strategies for Effective Email Communication in the Workplace
1. Those Boring and General Subject Lines Must Go
Think about the emails you actually open. What motivates you, as you go through that long list. Chances are, it is the email subject lines. There is a psychological element to subject lines that cannot be ignored. They must appeal to emotions. Journalists know this – that’s why their headlines are so compelling. They generate curiosity, fear of missing out on something, a possible surprise (need to know), and more.
Think about your subject line. How can you make it more compelling? Consider these two examples:
- “New Benefit Options are Now Being Offered” vs.
- “You Have New Health Insurance Options to Check Out”
The second subject line is far more compelling. Health insurance is important to people. What might those new options be? Your employees will want to know, so they don’t miss out on something.
2. One Email, One Subject
There may be some policy or procedural changes that are all coming at the same time. The temptation is to craft a long email, explaining all of these changes at once. Big mistake. Each email that is sent must relate to one topic only. The email subject line must address just that single topic, and the body of the email must address only that. This means that your emails will be shorter – something that is appreciated by recipients. The other big plus is that there is no confusion about the subject of the email.
If you are asking the recipients to do something, be very clear and precise about what they must do and how to do it.
3. Segment Your Emails
This suggestion relates to the previous strategy. One of the biggest mistakes made is trying to craft a “holistic” email to all employees, with many sections, each of which applies to only one segment of the employee population. No one wants to pour through a long email to find those sections that only apply to them, no matter how good you are about dividing it up by subsections. Divide your recipient list and send separate emails that only relate to the specific segment of your employee population.
4. Re-model Your Tone and Style
The message you have to convey may be important. But does it have to be conveyed in stiff and formal language and tone? Chances are it doesn’t. You can loosen up, use much more informal language, and still get your point across. You can even inject some emojis to show your personal feelings or anticipate recipients’ too. If, for example, there is some new form that employees must complete and return to you, show your empathy with an emoji that says, “ugh.” They will appreciate that you understand how they feel. If the email relates to a social event, you can inject happy emojis. This sets you up as far more human – someone who has feelings and emotions just as they do.
5. Always Review for Grammar and Punctuation
If you shoot out emails without checking for spelling, grammar, or punctuation, you look lazy. When you appear to be lazy, that is exactly the response you will get from many of your recipients. If you’re lazy, they can be the same in responding. Writing assistant services like Grammarly, Rytr or Unemployed Professors can be used for professional help. Avoid using slang and shortcuts like “LOL”, “BRB”, "OMG” in emails related to business communications. Always check the recipient line before sending an email.
6. Add Visuals
Visuals capture attention. And they are a great way to insert a bit of humor into your emails. Using GIFs and memes with an embedded message can be powerful and engaging. Get a bit creative here – it will be appreciated, and recipients will be far more likely to do what you are asking or absorb the information you are providing.
Emails are opened and read in their entirety if they are engaging and the result of some creativity on the part of the sender But don’t over-communicate via email. You are an HR professional, but you are also a human who should have a good relationship with employees of your organization.
That relationship can be enhanced by the emails you send – those that provide important information, those that require a response, and those that impart both good and bad news. If you employ these six strategies while writing an email, be it a business email, HR email or personal email, you’re sure to get more opens and reads.