Writing Tone & How to Correctly Communicate Intentions with Employees

A crucial aspect of leadership comes in the form of being able to effectively communicate. Whether it be through a messaging app such as Slack, or just email, your writing tone should be considered when corresponding with your employees. Though tone is subjective and relies on the reader, there are some strategies and practices employers can do to ensure that their employees see their intentions when communicating through the written word.  

Employers who master effective communication with their employees in a manner that properly conveys their intentions build trust and loyalty.  

The Subject Line 

Email is the standard form of communication between an employer and their employees. The subject line is always going to be the first thing employees see. Make sure to have a subject line that is engaging and attention grabbing. Simply saying “important” or “announcement” in all caps might cause employees to skim over the email. 

Writing tone starts with the subject line of your email. A picture that shows a zoomed in computer screen. It shows the word "Inbox (6)" with a cursor hovering over it.

The news is important, so using action words such as “improvement/s” or “update” might be more eye-catching for a company-wide announcement. When emailing an individual or a small group of employees, using more personable words in the subject line can improve employee engagement. 

The bottom line is employees to be aware of the subject matter of the email. The subject line is the first indicator of that. Make sure they don’t miss it because they didn’t open it. 

Put The Most Important Details First 

The subject line should give employees an idea on what the email is about. Then, make sure to put the most important piece of information right at the start. Depending on how long the email is, anywhere from the first sentence to within the first paragraph is ideal. 

 Good news, bad news, whatever the case, this information needs to be communicated. So, it needs to be front and center. And with this information, be transparent. Openness and honesty are the best policy. 

Details can come in later in the email or in follow up emails, but  employees have busy workdays, so if they take the time to open an email, they need to know the information up front. 

Use the Correct Tone 

Regardless of if the message is from a friend, or if it’s coming from an employer, tone is one of the more difficult things to get right in written communication. In-person communication has the benefit of the speaker’s pitch, body language, and general disposition. When going to written communication, one loses those benefits. 

Tone is a subjective writing element that doesn’t always have a “right” way of going about it. However, there are a few strategies employers can do to ensure that their intended tone is perceived. Employers need to know when to be assertive, when to be more direct, and when to be more personable and conversational. 

It's hard to get writing tone correct. There's no write or wrong way to do it. This picture shows a variety of multicolored pieces of paper, each saying "right," "wrong," or a question mark.

When addressing the company and workers at large, that is the time to use a more assertive, professional tone. Some conversational language can make its way in to try and mimic an in-person conversation. 

Addressing a single employee, or maybe anywhere between 2 or 3 employees, is the time to drop the professional tone and communicate more conversationally and personally. Addressing employees by name, and using a personal, friendly tone can best convey a message and show employees their best interests are at heart. 

Writing Tone in Practice 

Let’s look at some example sentences and try to see how each one could be perceived by  workers. 

Team – We’re under a tight deadline. We need this project finished by the end of the week. We could risk losing the contract if we don’t. Keep up the good work. 

Everyone, this is a reminder that the current project’s deadline is the end of the week. Per our contract, the client could choose to drop us if it’s not complete. Thanks for your hard work. 

Neither sentence above is incorrect. However, the tone from each sentence is different due to the word choice. In the first sentence, the employer is emphasizing urgency and project completion. They addressed the team properly, but the tone could read as cold and impersonal to some. 

The second sentence is still emphasizing the importance of the project and what could happen if it is not completed, however the tone is much softer. This sentence would be widely regarded as the preferred way to communicate this information. 

It is worth repeating – there is no right way to getting tone right. But there are a few things to consider before firing off an email to a team or individuals. 

Building Employee Trust 

Effective communication with employees is a vital part to the day-to-day interactions. Knowing how to communicate  messages properly and with the right writing tone will not only inform them of  important information, but it will build trust. Just like in person conversations, if the written communication keeps the same level of respect and consideration, then  one starts to build strong relationships with  employees. 

At FJC, we believe in providing clients and employers with tools and strategies to succeed. Effective communication also applies to potential candidates, which we can help employers find. Consider partnering with FJC to find candidates to fill roles, and the tools to succeed. 

Writing Tone & How to Correctly Communicate Intentions with Employees

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