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Email and Your Utility

Have you revamped your utility’s email policy lately? More importantly, do you even have an email policy?

While some forms of communication are going the way of the passenger pigeon — when’s the last time you got a fax? — email likely isn’t going anywhere in the business world, even if your teen’s primarily form of communication is two-word texts.

Emails remain incredibly important in the day-to-day workplace, but there are some negatives associated with them, too. Just ask Hillary Clinton.

Bad jokes aside, potential issues include excessive personal use to violation of company policies to harassment. Even illegal activity can crop up on emails.

That’s why you need a policy, and you should update it as conditions warrant. You probably should work with your company’s legal team on any policy.

Any policy should start with permitted uses.

While employees shouldn’t be using their work email for personal use, remember that emails cross multiple boundaries these days. An outright ban shouldn’t be implemented, although employees should be cautioned to primarily use their work emails for job-related activities.

That said, you’re well within your rights to prohibit the use of emails for illegal activities and inappropriate or offensive content. Definitely prohibit email use for political purposes, especially in this day and age. Same deal with employees allowing others to use their emails.

These rules obviously should apply whether the email account is accessed at work or otherwise. It might be wise to add a level of security before employees can access work emails on mobile devices.

What about monitoring employee emails, a tricky area?

If you’re going to do it, include a clause specifically detailing it in your employment and personnel documents. Explain why it may happen, while also mentioning the right to privacy.

Remember that monitoring shouldn’t be an ongoing thing, but a tool to be used occasionally. You don’t want to spy on workers unless you have suspicion something is seriously amiss.

That brings us to content and professionalism, which should be the overriding goal.

Every employee should have an “email signature” at the bottom of all messages that includes their name, job title, email address, pertinent telephone numbers and company boilerplate, if need be.

Specify prohibited content, such as what’s been discussed above, along with copyright-protected information, confidential information and links to anything prohibited.

You might want to five some writing guidance, too, calling for a professional tone, proper spelling (no “U” for “you,” for example) and the avoidance of abbreviations, emojis, web jargons, all caps and exclamation points.

Some other quick points:

● Have policies in place regarding how to react to potential viruses and phishing.

● Have an internal policy requiring external emails to be acknowledged within a work day or some other set period.

● Require employees to use the vacation feature when they’re away.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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