9 Tips for Writing a Business Email Policy

Email is the primary form of communication in the business world today. According to statistical information published by the Radicati Group, Inc., there were over 929 million business email accounts in 2013. Every business should have an email policy due to liability issues. Emails have the potential to result in harmful publicity and cause irrefutable damage to the reputation of a business. Employees from Accounting, Human Resources, the IT Department, the Legal Department and someone from Public Relations should be appointed to a committee assigned to write a company wide email policy. The following nine tips will assist the committee in writing a business email policy.

  1. Disclaimer Messages: Inform employees of disclaimers that are posted at the bottom of all outgoing company emails.
  2. Disciplinary Action: Possible disciplinary actions for violating company email policy should be included. Email violations should be reported to supervisors.
  3. Email Hazards: The policy should include a risk assessment list of possible email hazards. Employees should be aware of the possible consequences of emails.
  4. Encrypted Emails: Emails including confidential company information should be encrypted.
  5. Etiquette Practices: Business emails should be written utilizing proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. Writing an email in all capital letters is considered lazy and is perceived as shouting. Organizational practices for storing emails in folders should be addressed in the policy.
  6. Expectation of Privacy: Employees should be warned if the company routinely monitors emails. Include a disclaimer in the policy stating that the company is not obliged to monitor messages to possibly prevent some future law suits.
  7. Personal Emails: The committee should dictate whether or not sending and receiving personal emails are acceptable on company equipment. The IT representative may want to include attachment restrictions for personal emails due to storage limitations or security risks. The policy may contain limitations as to a time of day or number of personal emails that are acceptable.
  8. Restricted Content: Emails including offensive comments and material in reference to race, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, sexual harassment, pornography or politics should be considered forbidden. The receipt of an email with restricted content should be reported to a supervisor.
  9. Storage Limitations: Due to data storage and traffic flow issues, the policy should address subscriptions to newsletters. The committee may want to restrict subscriptions to work related newsletters only. The length of time that emails are to be saved should be included in the policy. The legal representative should address issues concerning minimizing exposure.


* Photo courtesy of SMTP Mail Server Helps in Growth of Email by Roger Grant at Flickr’s Creative Commons. 

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