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13th Sep 2018

The six unspoken rules of sending an all-staff email

Thou shalt not send an all-staff email unless it's absolutely necessary

Ciara Knight

Morning all – hopefully no sore heads after the weekend LOL!!!

There isn’t an illness in circulation today with more sickening symptoms than those experienced when you receive an all-staff email.

It’s a chore to open the godforsaken correspondence, then skim through it to ensure that it doesn’t pertain to you, and finally banish it to the deleted folder where it may fester in the abyss forevermore.

In a bid to promote fewer all-staff emails being sent worldwide, my campaign starts today.

Simply consult the following list of rules before you compose your next all-staffer and watch the world slowly become a better place for all who inhabit it.

Rule #1 – Thou shalt not clickbait your colleagues in the subject line

The least funniest person alive started the trend of putting the ‘FREE PIZZA’ trick as the subject line of all-staff emails, which then migrated into signage displays outside trendy hipster bars and restaurants, always ending with the caveat ‘Just kidding, but while I’ve got you…’ and today, it must stop. If you need to clickbait your colleagues into reading an email, it’s probably not worthwhile sending it. Plus, free pizza just isn’t something that’s socially acceptable to joke about, not in this current economic climate.

Instead, a far more logical course of action is to title the email subject with honesty. If you’re asking your colleagues to donate to charity, maybe start with that. You can phrase it in a quirky way, such as ‘Donate 4 Charity’ or even ‘Do-nate ignore this message’ if you’re the most excruciatingly unfunniest person alive. Clickbait is destroying lives at an alarming rate and if you’re not part of the solution, you won’t believe what you’re part of (the problem). Don’t forget, you could always go down the traditional route and simply use word of mouth to spread your message, or leave passive-aggressive post-it notes around the office for all to see.

Rule #2 – Thou shalt not attempt to be funny, even in the unlikely event that thou is a funny person

A very easy way to check if you’re funny is to think back to the last time someone laughed heartily at something you said. If that instance doesn’t come to mind within a maximum of ten seconds, you’re probably not funny. Sure, you had a viral tweet once, but the theme, format and premise were stolen. If it was the 1900s, you would’ve had both your hands cut off. Anyway, what’s important to learn here is that the chances of someone, even you, successfully being funny in an all-staff email are precisely zero. It’s an impossible feat.

Googling ‘Kitchen pun’ might have proved fruitful in terms of volume, but on the whole, there’s nothing remotely humorous about reminding people to put their crockery into the dishwasher so that the cleaner’s life can be a bit easier. The essence of humour comes from a unique perspective on strong subject matter. Save the twelve minutes it takes you to come up with a joke about the person who named it ‘washing up liquid’ being very lazy, instead channeling your efforts into a concise email that might be better communicated through a laminated sign.

Rule #3 – Thou shalt use normal conversational language in all electronic mail

The following words and phrases are henceforth banned from all-staff emails:

  • Folks
  • Hi all
  • Happy + day of the week
  • Any emoji or gif
  • Spread the word
  • Dig deep
  • Good for morale
  • Only x days until the weekend!
  • Eek
  • Warm regards
  • Hope this finds you well
  • Best
  • Fun-ness
  • Great place to work

If the language you’re using in an all-staff email would sound weird out loud, perhaps give it a second proofread before you hit that send button. There’s no need to be a Formal Freddy just because your recipients list totals 80 people on this occasion. Don’t worry about coming across as abrupt or overly familiar, people will have already made their minds up about your character long before your all-staff email was sent. If anything, your words are powerless. Nothing matters. We’re all going to die anyway.

Rule #4 – Thou shalt NEVER include an inside joke

As we’ve previously established, being in a position that merits sending an all-staff email can be taken as a legitimate sign that you are not a comedian. If you were truly funny, you would be incorporating that aspect of your personality into your career, usually. So just to reiterate, you’re probably not a hoot. This therefore means that your inside jokes with Linda from accounts aren’t universally funny, and certainly not ready for sharing with your other colleagues in an all-staff email. Not now, not ever.

Heroically ignore the temptation to include ‘We all know Linda will be first down, maybe in the right shoes this time LOL’ at the end of your all-staff email informing coworkers that there’s birthday cake in the break room. Nobody knows who Linda is, nor do they care about the time she wore her winter boots to the gym because she forgot to pack her trainers. It wasn’t funny at the time and hasn’t gained any relevance to the workplace since. Just a quick ‘CAKE IN BREAK ROOM’ will suffice. Your colleagues will thank you for the brevity.

Rule #5 – Thou shalt tread carefully with the ‘high importance’ notification

As a general rule of thumb, it’s probably wise to never send an email with the ‘high importance’ notification switched on because if the matter was as pressing as you’re suggesting, perhaps a phone call or brisk walk over to the person’s desk would’ve sufficed. Nothing that has ever been sent via email has truly been done with a manner of urgency. It’s the digital equivalent of posting a letter with ‘URGENT’ on the envelope, despite that bearing no effect on how quickly it will arrive.

There is but one exception to this rule, however. If you are informing staff that the building is on fire, feel free to stick a ‘high importance’ notice in the correspondence. That way, employees will know that they must respond to the message (as is the only courteous way to react) with a quick ‘Ok thank you’ and can then swiftly be on their way to safety. Any situation outside the exact circumstances of fire is unqualified for ‘high importance’ email tags. Thank you for your diligence on this matter.

Rule #6 – Thou shalt not send an all-staff email unless it’s absolutely necessary

Most importantly, before you send an all-staff email, it’s important to ask yourself no fewer than a baker’s dozen times if it’s absolutely necessary to do so. If there’s any doubt in your mind whatsoever, I strongly recommend that you down tools and reevaluate your entire life.

Start with your childhood, trying to figure out why your Dad always seemed distant. Was it because that’s simply his character or was there a deeper, underlying reason? Did he just decide that you were a garbage person from the outset? Legally, there’s no obligation for parents to love their children. Sometimes, it’s simply a mismatch. Then move onto your teenage years. Was the bullying valid? Did you need a bit of roughing up to knock the kinks out, especially that goth phase you went through? Uni wasn’t exactly a picnic either. Heck, nothing really seems to have gone to plan when you sit down and think about it. Is this really what you want to be doing for the rest of your life? Wondering if sending emails to your entire office are necessary? Or even worse, writing 1,200 words about the unspoken rules that go with this endeavour?

Perfect. Once that’s all been thought about, if you’re still overcome with the desire to send an all-staffer, fire away.