How not to start an email to your employees

Writing to your employees can be a daunting prospect – especially if the news is likely to be unsettling, such as the departure of a popular leader, the latest round of redundancies or the removal of an employee benefit.

Where do you start? Hopefully, not with the commonly used: “I’m writing to tell you that…”

Why? Because it sounds incredibly formal and old-fashioned and is one more of those bad habits we have in business that stops us sounding like compassionate human beings and gets in the way of what we’re trying to say.

This is the beginning of an email I received recently:

“I am writing today to let you know about a change to the company’s international leadership team…”

It then went on to say that: “Fred Bloggs [title] will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities outside of the sector.”

Only in the third paragraph did it say where Fred’s going.

Now, imagine walking up to someone and saying: “I’m speaking to you because I want to tell you that Fred Bloggs, HR Director and Chairman of the Diversity Committee is leaving the company.”

You’d sound ridiculous. So why write like that?

Here’s how the conversation would play out in person:

“Hey, did you hear Fred Bloggs is leaving?”

“No, where’s he going?”

And here’s how it could have appeared in writing:

“Fred Bloggs is leaving [company] to move to [new company] as [new title].”

You’d then go on to say how this affects the people you’re writing to and hopefully a few nice words about the person leaving. Short and sweet.

If you find yourself starting an email with: “I’m writing to tell you that…”, highlight those six words and hit delete. The majority of the time, the sentence will stand up on its own.

And if you’re staring at a blank screen, not sure where to begin, say what you want to say out loud, recording it on your phone and then type it up. It may need some tweaking but it will sound far more human and save you the time you would’ve spent agonising over how to start.

Contact us today for help with communicating with your employees.

Posted on June 5th, 2013.  0 Comments


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