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How many employees are actually opening the emails you send? How many are reading them?

I’ve asked that question in four rooms filled with HR professionals in the last month, and the results weren’t encouraging. The most common response was (paraphrasing here), “We have no idea because we don’t track that… but we know based on their actions, that not nearly as many employees as we need to.”

Of course I’d love to tell everyone how to track their email open rates and click through rates and all of those yummy HR metrics, but it’s not feasible for some companies… yet. And that’s ok.

But if your employees are not reading your HR emails, you have a serious problem on your hands. One that you need to fix urgently – especially before Annual Enrollment rolls around.

And before you jump in telling me all of the excuses you have like: our employees’ inboxes are packed full, they’re overwhelmed with email, they can’t keep up, it gets buried, they don’t check email often… I think you get my point.

There are a million excuses we can come up with to explain why we think our emails aren’t being read. But they are excuses – not the reality of what’s going on.

If your employees are not reading your #HR emails, you have a serious problem on your hands. Click To Tweet

I know, you’re going to fight me on this for a minute… But here’s the truth. If your employees are not reading your HR emails, you have lost your HR credibility.

What does the loss of your email credibility mean?

For starters, it means that you have previously abused your inbox rights. In other words, you’ve sent at least one too many emails that added zero value to your employee population. You’ve sent emails that were confusing, pointless or just too difficult to understand that your employees have given up on what you have to say.

An easy way to confirm this, is to see what emails your employees DO open. For example, when your CEO (or any other executive) sends a message out, do your employees read those messages? Or maybe it’s the “state of the business” or financial update emails – how well read are those?

Likely, the answer to the above two questions is that yes – your employees are reading those emails because they could have an impact on their tenure at the company and their career. Just the sender’s name or title, indicates “what do I need to know right now?”

If your employees open emails from a senior leader or a certain shared mailbox and your emails are not being opened, it’s a clear sign that your emails haven’t been flagged as important to them. Which in HR, we know is ludicrous because hey – benefits! Important!

Another gut-check for you, is the number of calls or emails you get about topics you email about. Instead of people taking the actions you’ve asked them to in various emails, are they calling for help? Sending their HR contact an email? Searching and bouncing from your intranet?

Look deeper at these actions – they could indicate two things: you’ve lost email credibility so they didn’t bother reading your email; or, that action is too important to them that they need some reassurance along the way.

The Slow Road to Recovery

Losing your email credibility is very easy to do… and difficult to recover from. But it is possible with a plan and some patience. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be walking through the exact steps to take, to improve your email credibility – just in time for your busy time!

In the meantime, start implementing these tips to increase your email effectiveness, instantly.