Embarrassing or inappropriate communications sent via company email can damage professional credibility, reputations, and careers. Employees who violate their companies' email policies can face penalties ranging from disciplinary action to termination.
Many employers monitor email, and some employees have even been fired for violating their companies' email policies. Violation of company email policy and messages containing inappropriate or offensive language are the two most common causes for email-related firing. While workers may be disciplined or fired because of inappropriate email messages, companies can face the risk of lawsuits.
It's important to find out what your company’s email policies are, and make sure you comply. But in general, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to handling email at work.
Never convey anger, use profanity, or make racist or sexist remarks. Remember, inappropriate words or images sent via email can come back to haunt you. Don't send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist, or obscene remarks—even if they are meant to be a joke.
Keep in mind that while email is a convenient way of sending information, it's not always the best way to communicate. Things like tone, facial expression, and body language can completely change the meaning of a word or phrase. But because these things are lost in email communication, it's possible for people to interpret messages the wrong way.
Most email is insecure unless it has been encoded or encrypted. Because of this, sending an email is like sending a postcard for many eyes to see. Never send confidential information to someone through email.
Don’t treat email casually. Play it safe. In general, don't write anything in email that you wouldn't feel comfortable saying in a crowded elevator. Whenever you're writing an email, take a moment to think before you send.