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7 Ways Email is Cramping Your Internal Comms Style

7 Ways Email is Cramping Your Internal Comms Style

Cara Heimbaugh

6 mins read

Tue, Jun 18, '24  

Reply all. Email fatigue. Spam. Being CC’d on everything. More spam. We are all familiar with email pet peeves at work. But what if some of the pitfalls of email go deeper than that?

When email was invented, the world was awe-struck. Sending comms in the blink of an eye to someone across the office or across the world felt like society had done the impossible. But email was invented in 1971; count the number of technologies and trends that have evolved since then. 

It’s time to take a hard look at email’s place in the workplace, and ways that the tool that once was cutting-edge is now just cutting into business value.

Email overload 

This one is obvious; we have all experienced the fatigue that email overload causes. In 2024, knowledge workers are still receiving a whopping 121 emails per day, with a large portion of them having little to no relevance to the recipient. Recent studies are estimating that only 37% of emails are deemed as useful, which is probably why 71% of employees claim they don’t even read many of them. This overload, piled on top of sifting through irrelevant info causes a significant chunk of wasted time per employee per day. And beyond that, it’s frustrating and demotivating. 

But the tides are starting to change. As the workforce continues to age through generations, email is becoming less of a keystone comms tool, with only Gen Z freely admitting to not reading emails and expecting their employers to modernize the way they communicate internally, a sharp pivot from the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations.

Takeaway: If your business is attempting to use email as a primary comms channel, their employees likely aren’t listening.

Lost Content and Knowledge

Hewlett-Packard CEO Lew Platt once said that “if HP knew what HP knows, we would be 3x as profitable.” Knowledge is your organization’s largest resource, and it’s being lost to the black hole of email.

Email lacks the structure necessary to categorize, recall, search, and leverage knowledge in the most effective way. Not only is important knowledge siloed into only the inboxes it reaches, but it’s also a headache to search and it’s difficult to know which information is the correct information. And if you’re a worker who isn’t in front of a desk at all times, it’s even worse, with email being even more cumbersome to access and sift through. 

Takeaway: Email is not a replacement for a central source of truth that houses accurate information with a strong search function.

Disruptive to Productivity

McKinsey reports that the average knowledge worker spends a whopping 9.3 hours each week simply finding the information they need to do their jobs effectively. That’s more than an entire work day lost to needle-and-haystack searching is a loss of resources. It’s also frustrating for employees who want to do good work without constantly climbing uphill in a mountain of emails, tracking down the right person, or searching through documents and files. 

A recent report by Gartner finds that a top priority for post-Covid workers is personal value and purpose at work, with one key to that being that they feel they have shared purpose and feel valued, trusted, and empowered. It’s difficult to find that employee experience in a workplace that lacks proper systems to empower their people with knowledge.

Takeaway: Employees who can’t find what they need can’t provide value or feel valued.

It’s Not Built for All Workers

Email may have a place at every business, but that doesn’t mean it works for every employee. For on-the-go, deskless, and frontline employees, email is a poor fit. In fact, many of these employee types don’t even have a company email address. And it’s not an insignificant portion of the workforce, either. 80% of the world’s workforce doesn’t sit at a desk. That leaves the largest segment of the workforce with the least amount of tech and least amount of connection to the company at-large. 

Takeaway: Without a communication solution for all workers, a large portion of the workforce is isolated and likely disengaged.

Email Hinders Optimum Collaboration

One by one, emails trickle in in threads that can be confusing and inefficient when trying to solve a problem or collaborate on a project. Emails get lost, recipients don’t answer the most recent message, or forget to include a key stakeholder. Email isn’t conducive to quick alignment, and isn’t cut out to be a project management tool. Email is also slow. The way we may have viewed paper mail in the past is beginning to be how some view email at work. Response times are slower, which means by the time team members receive, read, and respond to a message, the status of the project or pertinent information could have already changed. In short, workers are creating value faster than email can share it and support it.

Takeaway: Working together effectively requires real-time communication and alignment. Email can’t provide that experience.

It Doesn’t Create a Culture of Accountability

“I don’t think I got that email.” “Didn’t you see my email?” We have all heard these lines from a coworker in the past. Using email for important communications or knowledge sharing simply doesn’t work. There are few analytics surrounding email in terms of knowing who is reading and absorbing what information. 

The purpose of creating a culture of accountability within a work environment is for each employee to understand their individual impact on overarching goals and work together toward those same goals. Email doesn’t provide any type of real actionable way for people to acknowledge information other than to reply to the email, which quickly becomes complex. A feedback loop is essential for internal comms leaders to ensure that the right messages are being communicated to the right people.

Takeaway: If you don’t have an understanding of which information is most important to your employees, you’ll have blind spots in your internal communications strategy.

What Your Business Needs for Internal Communications Success

In 1971 when email was invented, there were 6.7 million workers in the United States. Today there are 167 million. Email used to be the bedrock of internal comms, and when it was in its prime, it was a major contributor to the way we work in the modern world. But that modern world continues to grow and the digitization of our information leaves email in the dust, unable to keep up with the needs of today’s businesses and fit the purpose for all workers. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever received one corporate email at my work,” said one of Happeo solutions architects as she walked a prospect through a demo. They were stunned to think about a world where their employees weren’t inundated with emails. But it’s possible when your organizations has the proper platform to support a modern business.

Today’s businesses need a central source of truth.  Some may call it an intranet, but at Happeo, it’s so much more than that. It’s a place where the collective knowledge is connected to its comms and people in one place.

Learn more about why we believe a modern intranet is an essential business technology, and connect with us for a demo so we can show you the secret to why Happeo employees aren’t drowning in their inboxes.