Banks, insurance companies, public utilities are all a part of the service industry, where the delivery of the service takes place with the help of the staff.
Even in a computerized environment, certain manpower has to be deployed, though the intensity may be substantially less as compared to an environment where the degree of mechanization and computerization is lower. As organizations employ a large number of people, correspondence with staff becomes extremely important, perhaps next only to that with the customers. Letters to staff working in business organizations emanate at various levels—within a branch, office or department, from the divisional office to the controlling office or from the corporate office or any specific unit like the staff training college.
Further, letters to staff may emanate from different functional departments, and cover a wide range of areas such as personnel administration, industrial relations, marketing, education, information, computerization and planning. Letters maybe original letters, emanating from the department, or may be response letters constituting replies to incoming letters from the staff. Staff in business organizations is often categorized into various hierarchical levels—subordinate, clerical, supervisory, managerial and executive. The nature and type of letters to be addressed to various categories of staff would also vary.
At the managerial level, there is often a greater intensity of communication, for the manager has certain responsibilities for the functioning of the branch or the department. Quite a large proportion of letters targeted at the branch is often addressed to the branch manager, as he/she is the team leader and overall in-charge of the branch or unit. Nevertheless, recognizing the growing importance of eliciting a higher level of participation from all categories of employees at the workplace, business organizations are strengthening their communication with the employees through various means. Service providing organizations, in particular, are increasingly treating their human resources as valuable assets, and are sharing more and more information about the way the business is going—corporate objectives and concerns, public image, performance highlights, emerging environment, competition and success and failures in various spheres. The good, the bad, the ugly—all aspects of business are shared with the employees and their response is elicited. Employee communication, it is to be noted, is particularly vital in times of crisis or when the organization is passing through a difficult phase. As the employees are important stakeholders of any organization, every effort should be made to take them into confidence and keep them posted on everything in the company that affects their welfare.
It is very necessary that the employees learn about events and developments of larger concern to the organizations from authentic internal sources, rather than be forced to gather bits and pieces from the public, the customers or the media and their own conjectures. Letters to staff within the organization have their own sensitivity, especially when they are from personnel, inspection and other such departments. The matter becomes more so when the issue relates to disciplinary matters, calling for explanation, depriving benefits and pointing out deficiencies.
Every word assumes a meaning, and hence with such letters, the letter writer should ensure that while the message is unambiguous, feelings are not hurt on account of poor expression or the wrong choice of words. One can think of a wide variety of letters to staff members. They may convey benefit, loss, punishment, appreciation, concern, progress or setback, and may in turn cause joy, hurt, anger, apprehension or disillusionment. Since these letters cover human issues, the letter writer should be conscious of the reaction to the letter and use the appropriate tone, intensity and modulation. In the following paragraphs, we present an indicative list of some of the common varieties of letters written by various departments to staff members.
From personnel administration:
1. Transfer and postings 2. Leave sanction and refusal 3. Disciplinary matters or seeking explanation 4.
Salary and perquisites 5. Interviews, tests and promotion-related matters 6. Performance appraisal, appreciation of performance and drawing attention to weaknesses 7. Staff deployment and work distribution 8. Sanctions and refusals
1. New products and services 2 Customer service initiatives and concerns 3.
Competition and market-related developments 4. Talking points on schemes and services 5. Employee contests, suggestion schemes 6. Counter sales and product promotion 7. Additions to customer base 8. Customer complaints and their redressal
Training programs, postings and feedback 2. Motivational letters 3. Self-development opportunities 4. Greetings, appreciation and condolence 5.
Quality circles and study circles
1. Loans and related matters 2. Tax-related issues 3. Recovery of amount due 4.
Provident fund and pension 5. Payments, reimbursements and clarifications
1. Irregularities and deviations 2. Omissions and commissions 3. Fraud and unethical practices As stated in the beginning, the list is only indicative. There are a host of other areas to be covered, such as business goals and targets, review of progress, seminars and workshops, events and functions. Moreover, the functional departments from which the letters emanate may also be different from what is indicated above.
In a branch, division or a department, the manager or superior concerned may have to deal with most such matters and accordingly address relevant letters to the staff. The objective in listing out the indicative areas is to enable the students of business communication to appreciate the variety involved, practice drafting and develop related skills.