How poorly worded emails can be detrimental to employee morale and productivity – and how to fix it!

The overwhelming nature of emails

Effective communication has become a vital element for the success of any organization. Emails have become an indispensable tool for communication, yet they can be a source of miscommunication leading to lost productivity and morale. Employees spend on average 28% of their workweek managing their inbox, receiving an average of 121 emails every single day! [1]. It’s no surprise that employee fatigue related to email communication is now a major contributor to burnout and job dissatisfaction.

Employees in many industries are finding themselves wasting too much time on unproductive interactions. These interactions often involve a significant amount of information that is not necessary or not relevant to the task at hand a sense of overload. This type of information overload can reduce executive effectiveness when it comes to making decisions, as evidenced by a McKinsey survey of executives in 2018 which found that half of the time spent on decision making was considered completely ineffective [2]. Part of this can be attributed to the often overlooked need to be effectively communication these decisions. However as employees we have set ourselves unrealistic goals of what we are going to achieve and do not provide ourselves time to complete it, no wonder we are constantly feeling overwhelmed.

“If I see five minutes of room, I’m going to jam in 60 minutes of stuff and ignore the three hours of communication I have to do in order to get other people on board. Then I wonder two, three, eight weeks out, ‘Why am I overloaded?’ ” – Rob Cross, in an interview with Tom Fleming about Collaboration Overload [3]

Erica Dhawan, author of Digital Body Language discussed with linguist Dr Naomi Baron discussed how our shift from in person discussions to virtual communication has lead to less comprehension, we spend less time on it trying to find the most important parts, and then hastily reply – usually because we feel so burdened by the volume of emails we have to reply to [4]. Erica discusses in her article Slow Down and Write Better Emails how it’s not uncommon in organisations that the higher up someone is, the shorter their reply is – much to the detriment of their staff.

“Brevity can make a person appear important, but it can also hurt your team and your business. Getting a slapdash email means that the recipient has to spend time deciphering what it means, causing delays and potentially leading to costly mistakes. And, according to Danielle Gunraj, a professor of psychology at Binghamton University, when we use the punctuation we associate most with brevity — the dreaded sentence-final period — we come across as insincere” – Erica Dhawan, Slow Down and Write Better Emails

Erica also writes about Ethan, a young manager she coached, once told her “about an interaction he had with a senior leader that left him feeling unappreciated and belittled. As requested, he had sent this senior leader a detailed plan about increasing productivity among his teams. The plan set forth a different way of working that Ethan was certain could help teams avoid duplicating their efforts and create new levels of transparency. Ethan was excited about the plan, and even included specific questions for the next team meeting. Expecting a positive response, maybe even a few follow-up questions, what he got back from the executive was this: “k.”

How can we improve our email communication?

There’s a number of things we can do to improve how we communicate using email at work.

How to write better?

To write better emails, start by writing a clear subject line that includes the key information. Recipients are almost three times as likely to open an email if it has a personalised or effective subject line [1].

Keep the body of your email succinct and organized, using bullet points and lists to get your point across, and whatever you’re asking for, as for it upfront! Jeff Su in his YouTube Video How to Write Better Emails at Work [5] highlights the important of being clear about what it is that you want, rather than confounding your request in a myriad of content, compare the following for example:

“Hi Jane, my name is Jeff and I’m in the product marketing team. We’re preparing a forecast deck for the big boss and he’s looking for the revenue projection numbers for the secret electric car that’s launching soon. Can I trouble you to pull that data for me?”

“Hi Jane, may l please trouble you for the electric car revenue projection numbers? Context: the product marketing team is currently preparing a forecast deck for the big boss and we’re hoping to use the projections to fight for more budget. It would be amazing to get numbers for 2025 to 2030 in a Google Sheets format.”

Consider using generative AI

Consider using AI tools to help you make sure you get the point across. In the limited time we have it can be easy to just write out your thoughts into a new Outlook window and hit ‘send’ without even considering what you’ve written. AI powered tools are common now, and can essentially take your thoughts and turn them into sentences to help you get your point across. Consider tools such as FlowWrite ( or WriteNow AI to help you save time writing your emails and avoid miscommunications. Tools like WriteNow AI have add-ins integrated into Microsoft Outlook and will even write replies to your emails for you, so you can avoid the dreaded response of “ok.”


[1] The Latest Work Email Statistics 2023 You Shouldn’t Ignore • GITNUX

[2] Effective decision making in the age of urgency | McKinsey

[3] Author Talks: Beyond collaboration overload | McKinsey

[4] Slow Down and Write Better Emails (

[5] How to Write Better Emails at Work (