No employer wants their digital communications to come back and bite them, and it’s hard to control what managers, supervisors, and their subordinates are putting in writing—and where that writing may end up. That’s why your company needs to establish guidelines for email communications. Having email policies can prevent your employees’ digital communications from subjecting your company to legal liability, reputation damage, or cyber-security attacks.
6 Useful Tips to Form a Foundation for Email Policy
- Prohibit the use of company email accounts for non-business purposes.
Be sure to include a statement that employees cannot use their business email addresses to sign up for an account that isn’t related to their work.
- Ban the use of email for inappropriate purposes.
Tell employees that they may not send emails that are offensive, threatening, or harassing. Additionally, they should not use any language or other content that is related to sensitive topics, such as race, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, religion, or politics. If an employee receives such an email, they should report it to your human resources team.
- Explain that business emails are the company’s property.
Your employees should not believe that they have a right to privacy in their company email. Consider notifying employees that the company has the right to review any message that they create, store, send, or receive on the company’s computer equipment or network.
- Teach employees about the cyber-security risks associated with phishing and other email scams.
With phishing, cyber thieves send seemingly innocuous emails to unsuspecting recipients, often from a source that may look legitimate. When the recipient clicks on the link, it leads them to a website that steals their information, such as their login or password. Explain the risks associated with opening messages from unknown senders, clicking on unknown links, and opening email attachments from strangers. If the recipient has a question about a request for information, even if the sender appears to be legitimate, tell them to contact your IT team.
- Set appropriate email etiquette standards.
Depending on how formal and large your company is, consider whether to require employees to implement a standard signature block at the bottom of their emails and set rules for responding to and forwarding to emails, such as requiring a response within a specific time frame.
- Publish your policy and train your employees.
After you establish your policy, publish it in your employee handbook or on your intranet, and teach employees about the policy during orientation and periodically thereafter. Follow up with employees to ensure compliance; your policy should also detail the potential consequences for any violations of your email policy.
Establishing an effective email policy will improve the quality of your company’s communications as well as insulate it from employees who exercise poor judgment.
For more tips on how to improve your workplace and avoid violations of federal and state labor laws, check out the Poster Compliance Center website.