When more employers than ever are operating in a remote work environment, proper email etiquette is more vital than ever. In 2022, often the only way people communicate is by sending an email. Senders and recipients don’t get the benefit of facial expressions, tone of voice, or body language. These circumstances mean mail etiquette rules are now vital for ensuring positive company culture and creating positive relationships with clients, customers, and vendors. MP’s HR experts share best practices for sending and responding to a business email.
5 Keys to Proper Email Etiquette
1. Fix any grammatical errors and avoid slang.
When sending emails from a professional email address, it’s essential to use proper grammar and avoid overly casual language. These emails reflect the organization itself, so they should maintain a polite business tone. Grammatical errors may prompt email recipients– especially vendors, prospects, and clients– to wonder how competent the sender is at their job, or how well the company performs its services. A poorly written email could be the reason an employer loses business. To avoid potential issues, companies should create a list of best practices and train their employees if necessary. Some examples of best practices include:
- Senders must double-check their email for grammatical mistakes and use tools like Spellcheck or Grammarly.
- Senders should generally avoid exclamation points, which could set the wrong tone.
- A professional email should never include slang. The recipient may not know what these words mean, or they may have negative associations with them.
2. Be concise.
Professional emails should always be organized and to the point. Ideally, an email should convey just one new idea. This isn’t just for the sake of the recipient. When senders write concise messages, they’ll likely get everything they need when the recipient responds to emails. A long, meandering email might only get half the questions answered or deliverables required. A request or point should be made clear at the end of the email and in the subject line. There may be a few greetings or niceties, but generally, chat should be saved for the phone. The emails should be short enough so the recipient can read your email without scrolling, whether on a phone, desktop, etc. Generally, this means one or two paragraphs. Bulleted lists are also helpful tools because they’re easily read and organize information for the reader. To ensure an email is short, the sender can ask themselves a few questions:
- What is my desired outcome in sending this email?
- Have I provided explicit instructions to achieve my end goal?
- Did I clearly ask for what I wanted or needed?
3. Respond with appropriate timing.
Most professional emails should be responded to within 24 hours during the workweek. (On the weekend, this may not be applicable, depending on the industry.) Everyone should be mindful of sending emails at an appropriate time. If managers send emails late into the night, they may unintentionally tell employees to be available constantly. When sending emails to clients or prospects, it’s vital to send within business hours or just a little outside of them. Sending emails at midnight, for example, will look unprofessional in an email thread with clients or prospects.
4. Use appropriate greetings and closings.
One of the best ways to ensure a professional tone is by utilizing the right greetings and sign-offs. Recipients will see these items more easily when skimming an email. This is a list of professional greetings:
- Dear [NAME],
- Good morning/afternoon [NAME]
This is a list of professional closings:
- All the best
- Best regards
- Best wishes
- Thank you
- Cordially yours
- With sincere thanks
- Yours truly
- Sincerely yours
4. Write direct, informative subject lines.
A business email is more likely to be opened if it has a concise subject line that shares what the content will cover. Coworkers, managers, clients, and prospects need this subject line to help them determine when to read it during their workday. Simply flagging it as red or “high importance” may not stand out to a recipient who gets many emails daily. State the topic of the email in the subject line. If seeking a specific answer or deliverable, proper email etiquette suggests the sender note it in the subject line. Leave greetings out, as you’ll say hello in the body of the email anyways. Try to avoid exclamation marks, as they may seem unprofessional. Lastly, avoid any words that might look like spam. These some of the words or phrases that are often red flag words to spam filters and people:
- 100% free, satisfied, more, etc.
- Best price
- Cash: earn cash, make extra cash, cash bonus, etc.
- Click: Click here, click below, click to start, get it now, etc.
- Credit: eliminate bad credit, fix credit, etc.
- Debt: consolidate debt, reduce debt, get out debt, etc.
- Don’t delete
- Free money, membership, trial, quote, hosting, gift, etc.
- Full refund
- Get paid
- Million, billion, etc.
- Special promotion
- Lowest, lower, compare rates, etc.
- Important information regarding
- Increase sales, traffic, etc.
- Money: money back, make money, save money, etc.
- No: cost, strings, catch, hidden fees, credit check, gimmick, hidden charges, etc.
- Not junk, not spam, this isn’t spam, this isn’t junk, etc.
- Now: act now, apply now, call now, etc.
- Please read
5. Write comprehensive apology emails.
Whether an apology is needed for a coworker, manager, or client, writing a clear, short, yet thorough email is paramount. The message should not begin with a “sorry” initially. Instead, the writer should state the situation, then, in a separate paragraph, the actions taken to correct the mistake. Next, the email may cover what caused the error. This section shouldn’t lay blame, but simply explain any extenuating circumstances, especially if they are rare or unlikely to occur again. At the end, the email should state an apology clearly and ask for any feedback or further suggestions, requests to rectify the mistake, etc. Proper email etiquette says that the optimal apology email will be concise and organized. It will focus on solutions and analyzing what occurred. It’s vital to avoid emotion or to create any further confusion.
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