Lack of email training is costing employers dearly

According to a new report the majority of PAs and secretaries have not been offered training on using email effectively – costing companies around 20 days in lost productivity. Dr. Monica Seeley gives her top 5 tips on saving time with email.

Three quarters of all employees are spending around half of their day dealing with email – and of these a quarter are spending more than four hours a day, according to the latest survey on Email Management.

The report, conducted by email management consultancy Mesmo, also revealed that virtually none of these UK companies has trained their employees in how to use email effectively. Indeed, 92% of PAs questioned said that neither they nor their managers had been offered any form of email training, whatsoever.

“This is an outrageous waste of a company’s investment in people and needlessly adds to workplace stress” says email guru and Mesmo, Managing Partner, Dr Monica Seeley.

“When you combine the survey findings with Government and independent research which show that each of us wastes at least 45 minutes a day dealing with unwanted email –we are losing around 20 days a year of productive working time. Training quickly gives back this time and more.”

Commenting on the growing time people are spending on their email, the lack of security and the poor use of email as a communications tool, Seeley continues:

“People and organisations without training use email inefficiently. Organisations tend to produce a constant stream of communication and often make inappropriate use of the medium. One example from our survey is that 81% of people think others do not use the ‘cc’ function correctly. My work confirms this as we see far too many people ‘cc’ing to cover their backs and sending email out indiscriminately. They are not thinking who actually needs this information before they press send.”

The length of emails sent is another problem – they’re just too long. 62% state that the optimum size for an email should be no more than 4-5 sentences. Seeley advises, “people need help and guidance with softer issues such as style, clarity, brevity as well as content of emails i.e. what is and is not appropriate to put in writing in an email.” She continues, “Many users do not understand how insecure an email is and that inappropriate comment in an email can be regarded as defamatory.”

Concern also revealed by the report is that nearly half of respondents reported that their companies had no Electronic Documents and Records Management (EDRM) Policy whilst an additional 30% did not know if their company had a policy at all! An EDRM policy defines what emails and documents are kept, by whom and until when. Lack of such policies can lead to serious breaches of confidentiality and security of company data.

So, how can you get on top of your email? Dr Seeley, gives her top 5 tips to saving time:-

Top five ways to save time dealing with email
  1. Avoid dipping in and out when ever possible, instead set aside specific times for dealing with email.
  2. Handle each email once and follow the four Ds principle – deal, delete, delegate or defer action.
  3. Establish a reliable way for tracking emails which still need action, eg flags, create a task etc.
  4. Use colour to differentiate emails from important people.
  5. Use rules to sort less important emails as they arrive (eg out of messages, newsletters etc).

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