HR Education: Let’s Review a Little Email Etiquette

by | Dec 23, 2009 | Blog, HR Education

  • Amy Letke

    Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success. Contact us for more insights - 502-753-0970 or

With the New Year approaching, now might be a good time to invest in a little “hr education” and review the basics of email etiquette. It’s probably a safe bet to say that everyone reading this blog has received an email that just made you want to cringe. Whether it was inappropriate content or full of misspelled and poorly chosen words, Human Resources Professionals and managers (hopefully) realize the importance of email etiquette and the negative impact a poorly constructed or ill-timed email can have on an organization. Below is a submission from one of our guest bloggers:

Email is the primary communication tool for many people both personally and professionally; therefore, utilizing proper email etiquette is very important, particularly in the business world.  The first benefit of utilizing proper email etiquette is that it can aid in the portrayal of the sender and their company as professional.  It can also help provide clarity of communication.  Lastly, proper email etiquette can give the sender and their company protection of liability. Below are a few tips to consider when using email:

Know your audience:

  • If you are sending a business email to someone for the first time, be more formal than you would normally be.  This means greeting the person in a professional manner using their title.
  • Be sure to include an email signature line that as least includes your name, title, and organization affiliation.
  • After the first email, follow the person’s lead when they reply to you.  Thus, if the person replies in a less formal way, it would be safe to assume you can match their language.
  • Avoid forwarding “funny” emails to coworkers from your work email address, as this can annoy some people.
  • , 4 u, and other texting shortcuts are not meant for a professional email.  However, if you have a strong relationship with someone that is more relaxed or less formal, using emoticons sparingly may be appropriate.
  • If using a signature quote, make sure it is appropriate and professional.

Subject line needs to reflect what the email is about.

  • Don’t leave it blank
  • Do be concise, but convey what the message is about

Be clear and concise throughout the body of the email.

  • Convey your ideas in a clear manner, but do be considerate of word choices so not to seem pushy or overbearing.
  • Don’t send emails when you are angry at work.  It may be necessary to take some time to think about the situation before responding.

Before sending your emails make sure to proofread, spell check, and look at suggested grammatical errors.

  • Misuse of punctuation, misspellings, using the wrong word (there, their, and they’re), and poorly formed sentences can make the sender seem uneducated, careless, and/or lazy.
  • Be careful with “fun” font types and colors.

Return emails in a timely fashion.

  • If you know you can’t get to their email and answer their questions in a thoughtful way until later, let them know when they can expect an answer.

Ensure that your email address sounds appropriate.

The contents of your email may not be kept confidential.

  • If there is something that needs to remain confidential, it may be beneficial to meet in person to discuss the matter.
  • Don’t gossip!  If you have an issue with someone, it is best to discuss the matter with the person face-to-face rather than through email to other coworkers.
  • Remember what you put in an email is public record so be cautious.

Submitted by: Marlana Welch, M.A.; Spalding University Ph.D. candidate and guest blogger for IntegrityHR, Inc.

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