reading bad email communication

Ah, email! We have a love/hate relationship with the darn channel, and, to mix metaphors, it’s become the devil we know.

Our firm spends a lot of time getting feedback (through surveys and focus groups) from employees about email. Here’s the 1 characteristic employees like about email—and the 9 elements they really, really hate:

Like: Convenient. Especially in a time when employees are increasingly experiencing email on a mobile device, they appreciate the fact that they can check email on the go and quickly manage their inbox.

Hate:

  1. Too many. “Could be streamlined, taking the target audience into consideration.”
  2. Not relevant. “Tailor emails to specific departments. Make them meaningful to me.”
  3. Poorly timed. “Some messages seem to arrive months in advance, but other times the information has been broadcast long before the email arrives.”
  4. L-o-o-o-n-n-g. “Two screens? You must be kidding.”
  5. Unclear. “I had to read one email twice before I figured out what it was about. Action steps were buried at the bottom.”
  6. Spun. “Please reduce marketing spin. Tell me the facts, the who, where, why, when and how.”
  7. Unnecessary. “I went to a town hall and heard about the initiative and then saw an article on the website. Why did I get an email, too?”
  8. Corporate. “We communicate with our customers simply and clearly. Why do internal emails seem like lawyers wrote them?
  9. Boring. “It sometimes seems that leaders don’t want me to read the email. Otherwise, why would they make it so dull and uninteresting?”

What should you do differently? Everything—except completely eliminating emails. Employees still value the channel; they just want it to be much, much better.

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