Have you ever wondered how safe your customers and your image are in the hands of new joiners? Do you include email best practice in your induction training? What about social media etiquette, or Twitter policies? You might think you don't need to, given that for many, email is now the most common currency of communications second only to text messaging and social media platforms like Facebook. But you'd be wrong.
Over the next few months, lots of bright young things will be joining your workforce. Many of these So-called Millennials will be working in the 'real world' for the very first time. What's more, while this digital generation may be technically adept, but few will have much experience of how to leverage the day-to-day business, communication and productivity technology business takes for granted. They largely express themselves across social media in informal language, emoticons, text speak, pictures and video – all easily understood by their peers.
In fact in terms of business, few Millennials will have used conventional email or crafted a proper business letter. That's not to say they are illiterate - many are highly gifted individuals when asked to write an essay or crack a scientific problem. The problem is they have never before been the public face of a business.
Just as the way you dress conveys an image on which people judge you, the same happens with your email (and social media posts) – it's your 'electronic dress code'. With email, you have less than five seconds before your recipient starts to form a picture of you and how serious you are about their business. In that time they will either warm to your proposal or lose interest.
In this age of 24x7x365 communications, speed is vital, but so too is the quality. In terms of your business and some challenges to consider are:
- What constitutes a good subject-line (given this is the first impression in a crowded inbox) and can determine whether or not an email is opened?
- Is the greeting and sign off appropriate?
- Does spelling and grammar matter?
- Should the content be either properly structured or is it acceptable for it to be serendipitous?
- Are there certain words which must be avoided either because they can cause a breach of security and compliance or be giving away the crown jewels in terms of intellectual assets?
- When and how (if at all) should the Out-Of-Office message be used and what should be included in the message?
- How watertight is your procedure for misuse of email and other social media? (You do have a procedure, don't you . . . )
So how safe is it to let your Millennial new joiners loose on email?
Not very is almost certainly the answer. It's not enough to just give them a document listing the do's and don't of email best practice. During their induction programme you need to talk it through and educate them in how you want email and social media used to maximise the benefits for your business.
Remember these new joiners are now your companies' front line ambassadors. You need to clearly define when and how they can use the internet, email and social media at work. You must determine and educate them as what it is or isn't appropriate for them to publish on these networks, how quickly you expect them to respond to tweets, email or Facebook messages and teach them to do it in a style which reflects your company's image and values.
Call me old fashioned, but in this highly competitive market place, organisations need to take advantage of every communication opportunity to get their message heard. Well-dressed emails remain an important communications channel and a shop window for you and your business. So make sure they look their best.