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Email Productivity

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You might lose your job for any number of reasons, but being fired is usually connected to a major mistake. One New Zealand woman, however, was terminated because of her use of the caps lock key

According to an article that had been printed in The New Zealand Herald:

An Auckland accountant was sacked for sending “confrontational” emails with words in red, in bold and in capital letters.

Vicki Walker, who was a financial controller with ProCare Health, has been awarded $17,000 for unfair dismissal, and plans to lodge an appeal for further compensation.

Walker said they talked about a number of emails she had sent, yet used only one in evidence. The email, which advises her team how to fill out staff claim forms, specifies a time and date highlighted in bold red, and a sentence written in capitals and highlighted in bold blue. It reads: “To ensure your staff claim is processed and paid, please do follow the below checklist.”

email productivity discussion

© Flickr user Victor1558

It’s not possible to know the entire story from one news article, but the premise is still fascinating. Does the use of uppercase letters, bold text and bright colors have a significant influence in stakeholder satisfaction?

It would seem that ProCare Health feels the answer is yes. We at AccelaWork would have to agree—not with the decision to sack Ms. Walker, of course, but with the notion that the way we produce messages influences the productivity and satisfaction of the recipient. According to the article, Ms. Walker “had contributed to disharmony in the workplace,” so the real question here is not why Ms. Walker chose to utilize such highlighted text, but instead, why its emphasis offended her colleagues and employer to such a serious extent? We have covered and issue similar to this before about employee productivity in the digital era. The ordeal Ms. Walker and ProCare Health dealt with was an example of emotional contagion.

Usually, the true intentions behind written or spoken words are intended to be helpful and effective. However, actual meanings can be skewed through alternate interpretations. The way an individual perceives particular communication is often entirely different than what was meant originally—especially when it comes to email. We have noted before that cryptic messages and worker productivity have a polarizing effect, often resulting in an uneasy and potentially counterproductive environment. Don’t allow miscommunication to negatively influence harmony between stakeholders. Contact our Indianapolis consultants today to learn more about how we can help.

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