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How to get your staff off their emails and back on their phones/talking to people

Email has become the main method for communication across organisations. There are of course many upsides to this; it is free and allows people to read/respond in their own way. But as tech savvy generations join the workforce, this overreliance on the written word is, at times, farcical.

“Would you like a cup of tea” or “Can you turn down the aircon please” sent across the office is a step too far in any reasonable person’s view. But even outside of the organisation, external emails could be replaced by phone.

There are many advantages.

• It is hard to get the EQ (emotional intelligence) right in email.
• Email and text often promote reactive responses.
• Digital shields people’s ability to forge a relationship
• Email prolongs debate.
• Email decreases the rate at which people are willing to resolve issues professionally and directly in-person.
• It is too easy to get sucked into an email conversation and over-share, whereas this is not possible on the phone.

Of course, there are times when email is best. But if you feel that more time needs to be spent on the phone/talking, you need to change the culture.

• Limit/lock email distribution lists to managers to prevent mass email
• Introduce incentives to move away from email
• Create a rule whereby if a discussion goes beyond 3 emails, a discussion must be had
• Provide company mobile phones or cover the costs of company calls
• Install recording technology so the call can act as a record
• Managers need to become advocates and call out poor practice. They also need to lead by example
• Refuse to look at any dispute (with exception of a claim of bullying/harassment) until the two parties have spoken.
• Offer training on how to converse in a phone call (sounds daft, but many Generation Z employees fear the phone and see it as an alien concept).
• Ensure the Board are engaged and are communicating more verbally
• Share stories and best practice of any successes had because the phone was used.

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