HR Strange But True!
July 15, 2009

E-mail is so quick and easy that employees sometimes forget just how quickly and easily it can land them in trouble on the job. For a reminder, just see the emails that executives identified as the worst e-mail mistakes.

The Creative Group conducted a survey among advertising and marketing executives to find out the worst email mistakes they or others have made. The responses ranged from erroneously sending out an employee's salary information to the entire company to recalling a nasty e-mail about the boss that made its way to top management.

The following are the 10 that we thought were the worst mistakes of the lot:

  • “I once sent a job offer to the wrong person.”
  • “An employee sent his resume to me by mistake. It was supposed to go to an outside company.”
  • “Someone made a nasty comment about a supervisor and it was sent to the supervisor by mistake. It eventually led to dismissal.”
  • “A person called another employee an idiot in an e-mail to everyone in the company.”
  • “My receptionist sent a very gossipy and catty e-mail about another employee to the wrong person. It was so unprofessional that she was terminated.”
  • “Confidential information about one client was sent to a different client. It was certainly embarrassing.”
  • “Someone crafted a scathing, sarcastic e-mail about a customer and did not mean to hit ‘send.' It caused problems.”
  • “I once sent an internal memo about restroom etiquette to a prospective client by accident.”
  • “Someone sent me a copy of an employee's bank records by mistake.”
  • “Someone meant to send a racy picture to a couple of friends but ended up sending it to the entire staff, which caused her much embarrassment.”

Think you know of a worse mistake? Let us hear about it. If we receive enough good responses, we'll include them in a future column.

"E-mail mistakes can be painfully visible and viral,” said Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group. “Professionals must be especially careful in this economy not to do anything that could cause employers to question their competence or judgment, and that means paying close attention when sending any kind of message, particularly if the information is sensitive.”

The Creative Group offers the following seven tips to help professionals avoid e-mail errors:

  • Give it your undivided attention. Avoid multitasking when responding to important or sensitive messages. If you can't respond right away, let the person know when they can expect to hear back. Then, compose the e-mail when you're free of distractions.
  • Save the distribution list for last. When writing a confidential or sensitive message, wait until it is complete before carefully selecting the recipients. This will help you avoid sending out an incomplete thought or selecting the wrong individuals.
  • Take care with those you copy. Think twice before hitting “reply all,” and only copy people who need to be in on the conversation.
  • Review it on a big screen. E-mailing using handheld devices with small screens and keyboards may increase the likelihood of typos and other mistakes. When sending an important e-mail, it can be helpful to view it on a full-size computer screen or use spell-check before transmitting.
  • Check attachments. Insert any documents -- and confirm that they're the right ones -- as soon as you refer to them in the memo.
  • Don't hit “send” when you're seething. E-mailing when you're angry is never a good idea. Give yourself time to cool down before responding. It may be better to speak in person.
  • Keep it professional. Electronic messages can easily be forwarded and employee e-mails may be monitored. Avoid saying anything unkind or unprofessional.

Source: The Creative Group

TGIF - It's HR
Strange But True
Get your weekend off to a great start with your own copy of HR Strange But True e-mailed to you each Friday as part of the HR Daily Advisor, absolutely free. Catch up on the latest odd, offbeat, and humorous HR stories provided by HR Strange But True as well as a daily tip from the award winning HR Daily Advisor. Just enter your e-mail address and click "Go."
'HR Strange But True' Archive
View past articles by month and year
Copyright � 2016 Business & Legal Resources. All rights reserved. 800-727-5257
This document was published on
Document URL: