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E-mail users don't get the message

June 3, 2002 

Corporations with 100 employees who make about $50,000 annually can expect to spend more than $400,000 a year as the result of ineffective e-mail management.

So much for faster being better.

Workers in companies throughout the country are increasingly inundated with so much e-mail that studies show they lose an average of two hours from each business day.

Research by communications consulting firm Rogen International and Goldhaber Research Associates tallied the losses of companies with 100 employees to be about 15,000 work hours, or $420,000 annually, based on average salaries of $50,000.

Moreover, poorly written electronic communiques are adding to inefficiencies on the job, corporate trainer Debra Hamilton said.

"E-mail is becoming a burden, not a time saver," Hamilton said. "There's a lot of waste and it's costing companies money and adding to stress in the workplace."

Hamilton, of West Milford, N.J., offers businesses tips on writing effective e-mails and trimming the amount of time spent on dealing with unsolicited bulk e-mail, or spam.

Monsen Engineering Co. in Fairfield, N.J., recently hired Hamilton to talk to about a dozen of its 130 employees on ways to improve their use of e-mail.

"I believe in ongoing training and wanted to make sure we're using it effectively," said company President Richard Monsen. "If we're all wasting an hour or more a day on ineffective e-mail, then doing this over lunch is probably a good investment."

Hamilton, who owns Creative Communications & Training in West Milford, holds the workshops for small groups of employees at lunchtime because she says the informal gatherings offer a better environment for a free exchange of ideas. She encourages staffers to write brief e-mails that get to the point without coming off as preachy or bossy.

"Tone matters," Hamilton said. "You need to be focused and friendly or you can come off as harsh."

At Monsen, bookkeeper Janice Weston said Hamilton's tips will help her communicate better with colleagues.

"The workshop was useful because knowing how to structure e-mail and say what you mean, how you mean it, can cut a lot of waste," Weston said. "It's helpful because e-mails in business really are electronic letters. They're company documents and they should be treated that way."

Knight Ridder. The Spokesman-Review.Com

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