HFC uses Outlook email for all full-time faculty, staff, and adjuncts. The following guidelines are based on the HFC Acceptable Use Policy, and include both individual and group uses of HFC email.
I. Using email for group (blast) messages
Email to all campus users originates periodically from email@example.com, and is sent on a very limited basis:
1. To send to an entire group of users, such as all employees or all students, within specific circumstances (see below).
2. To send to a sub-group of users, such as one of the HFC unions, all faculty members, or all HANK users, within specific circumstances (see below).
Communications to all HFC faculty and staff: when blast email is not used
Many messages throughout the year are provided for all faculty and staff, or specific groups of faculty and staff. Most of these internal communications are distributed on Mondays through the HFC faculty and staff news website, under defined categories. (Content submissions for this website are due by the preceding Friday at noon to firstname.lastname@example.org). This website is promoted with a single, weekly reminder email containing new message headlines. The website is available 24/7, and is updated throughout the week.
If you wish to share information about activities, cultural events, and other content, we encourage you to send this information to us for Employee News. Other options are also available. Marcom staff will be happy to help identify the best avenues and appropriate audiences to receive your message (such as digital boards and social media).
When is blast email used?
The Office of Marketing and Communications has made a commitment to you, our colleagues, not to spam you or inundate you with email messages. Most people tell us they receive too much email, and managing email is time-consuming and sometimes burdensome. To create an efficient and respectful work environment, Marketing and Communications restricts uses of employee and student blast email messages to specified circumstances. We attempt to meet the needs and expectations of our colleagues and to provide only targeted, defined email messages at appropriate times.
The following criteria describe the circumstances under which the Office of Marketing and Communications will send group/blast emails to faculty, staff, and administrators:
- An emergency, imminent crisis, or Clery Act Timely Warning (also communicated via campus alerts, website, social media, and other channels);
- Notices required by regulatory bodies such as the Federal Government / Title IX statutes
- Campus closures (also communicated via campus alerts, website, social media, TV/radio, and other channels);
- Campus Safety notices for the entire campus; an immediate and impactful facilities, access, or parking issue; or campus infrastructure affecting a significant proportion of the campus;
- An urgent message from the Board of Trustees, the President's Office, Financial Services, or Legal Services;
- Urgent Human Resources notices affecting all or nearly all employees;
- Periodic, pre-planned reminders to faculty of important academic deadlines, such as de-registration and grade deadlines;
- All-campus gatherings such as the semi-annual State of the College meeting, presidential events, and similar events;
- Bereavement notices;
- At the Marketing and Communications Vice President's discretion, on rare occasions, we will send messages that are of immediate interest or benefit to the entire HFC community, if we determine that such messages are best communicated via a campus-wide blast message rather than our other channels. This will not be a common practice, as there are other, preferred methods of communicating through electronic and analog means. Please note that we will not send blast email messages that come to us as "urgent" due to lack of advance planning by campus units.
Keep in mind, nearly all content requests are directed toward our employee news website, which is our primary e-communications channel with faculty and staff. We now have a student news page as well, and student-targeted news will be included there and on the student portal.
Attachments to email are not recommended and will usually not be included. Please include required information in the body of your email request, or as a link to a OneDrive (Office 365) document or existing webpage.
Email blast messages to targeted groups
We ask that all users respect their colleagues' time and workflow, and do not attempt to circumvent official communication procedures (above) by sending their own messages to multiple HFC user email lists. All users may communicate freely with the list of which they are a member. E.g., members of Local 71 may send periodic, relevant, business-focused messages to Local 71, following the usage standards (below) and rules of courtesy and respect for your colleagues' time and attention.
II. Using email for individual and team work
HFC email is designed for person-to-person, College-related business correspondence, and for work among the various teams and groups at HFC and beyond.
1. Usage Standards
The official HFC email system is not an appropriate avenue for prolonged discussion or debate. If you want to pose a question to the entire College community about a specific subject, the Community Forum is the most appropriate avenue. Visit the Community forum to post your information.
Acceptable uses of the Community Forum are quite broad, and may include just about anything that would be appropriate for general consumption.
- messages that promote illegal activity,
- messages that are discriminatory (racist, sectarian, sexist, non-inclusive, etc.)
- Messages that solicit business activity for non-HFC organizations or individuals.
2. Standard guidelines for email messages
A. Send clear and concise emails
Avoid long emails that contain extraneous or irrelevant information, or long explanations (pick up the phone!). Use a minimum of words, and stay on topic. Always consider (a) your audience and (b) purpose for communicating to that audience via email. Be specific in communicating what you need from your audience, and state your expectations directly.
B. Include a short, meaningful subject line
Always include a subject line that is short and relevant. Specific subject lines help readers to quickly and efficiently triage your message. Do not sensationalize your message's content. Good subject lines are direct, and respectful of your audience.
C. Establish a professional tone
Be respectful under all circumstances. Use standard grammatical conventions and a professional communication style, including complete sentences. Avoid jargon, acronyms, texting-style shortcuts, memes, and emojis. Assume that your email can, and will, be forwarded to anyone, including recipients who were not part of your intended audience. Represent yourself well. You never know where your words will end up.
D. Use courtesy introductions and sign-offs
Use an appropriate introduction (“Dear Rashad; Hello, Rashad”) and an appropriate sign-off (Respectfully, Sincerely, Best Regards) to indicate professionalism and courtesy.
E. Respond in a timely way whenever possible
Respond promptly to emails whenever possible, and provide a clear and concise reply. If you require additional time for research, let the sender know, and give an estimate on when you will follow up.
F. Use appropriate out-of-office email conventions
If you will be away from the office for a day or longer, use the out-of-office function and, if relevant, include information on whom senders should contact in your absence. Keep your message brief and targeted. Indicate when you will return to the office, and be realistic about when you will be able to respond to waiting messages. That is, don't promise to reply to all email the first day you are back in the office, because that day might not go as you plan it. "I will read and respond to messages after I return to the office" is sufficient.
Do not indicate why you are out of the office. It doesn't really matter to the recipient whether you are at a conference or taking a vacation, and are violating your own privacy by giving out that information. All emails sent to your box will receive your out-of-office reply, and there might be senders whom you do not want to inform of your whereabouts.
If you will be out of the office for an extended period (e.g. longer than two weeks), we recommend a different approach, because 1) most of the messages sent during your extended leave will not be relevant by the time you return, 2) reading dozens or hundreds of outdated messages is a huge waste of time, and 3) you will need a fresh start when returning to the office.
Thus, we recommend something along these lines:
Subject: Extended leave, emails will be deleted
Text: I am out of the office for an extended period. I plan to return to the office by [date]. In my absence, please contact [designated person]. All email sent to my mailbox before [date] will be deleted. To communicate with me after [date], please call or re-send your message after I return to the office.
G. Use a professional email signature
Use a standard signature file and a link to the HFC website on all email correspondence. This provides a professional way to know who you are, and how to contact you later. DO include your email address and URL; some email systems will not include the original sender's email when a message is forwarded.
An example signature:
Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Henry Ford College
5101 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, Michigan 48128
[include HFC logo if desired] (Be aware that including the logo sends an image file with every email message).
Quotes and other email personalization:
Out of respect for others: Please don't do it. Henry Ford College is a public institution that is welcoming to all people, regardless of personal characteristics or beliefs. Please do not add religious, sectarian, political, or other quotes, comments, graphics, or statements to your email signature. These could be uncomfortable or alienating to people who are different from you. What you personally find inspirational could come from a source or context that is problematic for others. Creating a welcoming space and accessible services requires openness, and, in some cases, this means exercising discretion in what you communicate through HFC channels.
H. Do not mark emails as high-importance or urgent (unless you want to SEEM LIKE A SHOUTER)
Marking emails as high-importance or urgent is a way of yelling at your colleagues to pay attention to you, NOW. It can make you seem self-important, so be very careful when deciding to do this.
Everyone gets a lot of email, and as professionals, we triage our email to determine the sequence and nature of our responses. Most of the time, we don't need someone else to determine importance for us. If your subject lines and messages are well-crafted, and you are respectful and build relationships with your colleagues, you do not need to YELL AT PEOPLE to pay attention to you.
If something is truly urgent, pick up the phone. Explain the situation. Ask for what you need.
If your message is truly, deeply urgent, it is better to include a subject line such as: "URGENT: attached invoice needs your signature today, please." Use this sparingly. In many instances, your "urgent" email makes you look like a poor planner who waited until the last minute to send your message.
I. Use "reply all" very rarely.
When responding to an email, consider the subject, and decide who really needs to see your reply. Using “Reply All” will quickly earn you a reputation as a "business spammer," and people will become annoyed by your emails.
Do not include secondary recipients on your emails. It is unprofessional and disrespectful to copy someone's VP or boss because you want to emphasize the urgency of a message. Communicate clearly, directly, and when something is urgent, pick up the phone instead of using email.
J. Do not use BC (blind copy) on email. Ever. Except in one very specific circumstance (which probably isn't your situation).
Using the "BC" function on email is just a bad idea. There are so many downsides that we recommend you never use it, unless you are sending an official email to a large listserv and you need to hide the list's send-to addresses to retain privacy.
Instead of using "BC," if you want someone other than the listed recipient to see an email message, the professional approach is to forward the message to the secondary recipient, separately, with an explanation about why they are receiving the message separately. Using BC is perceived as a duplicitous, unprofessional practice and is likely to reduce trust between you and your colleagues. It also tends to result in gossipy, back-channel conversations that help no one.
Best practice, and professional behavior, calls for you to open copy ("CC") all recipients on the original message. Email recipients deserve the courtesy of knowing who else is receiving messages that are sent to them.
Still not convinced? Ask yourself why you would use "BC," rather than forwarding a message with an explanation:
- Are you avoiding having a difficult conversation with someone, when you really should be talking in person? Pick up the phone, make the call.
- Are you trying to score points with your BC recipient? Don't use email for this.
- Are you not willing to take the time to forward your message with an explanation? Take the extra 60 seconds to forward and explain the message.
- Do you "just want someone else to know, for the record"? Take the extra 60 seconds to forward and explain the message.
- Are you trying to CYA? Take the extra 60 seconds to forward and explain the message. Or, consider how else to protect yourself.
- Do you think BC is the best way to get a message documented? Your email is time-stamped and saved in your "sent" folder indefinitely, and can always be forwarded or printed.
"Blind copy" literally means you are hiding something from your intended email recipient.
Other risks of using BC for email:
- Your BC recipient(s) could forward your message. To anyone. Even the person you were trying to hide it from.
- It is possible that your BC recipient will not realize they were blind copied, and will reply to the message and copy someone else, which could be unpleasant.
- Your BC recipient might mention the email or its contents to unintended recipients in conversation.
- BC recipients might misinterpret the reason you used BC. This can create misunderstandings and unintended conflict.
- Email can live forever. Your BC emails included.
- Later, you might not remember who was copied and who was blind copied.
- BC emails are subject to the Freedom of Information Act, just as all other emails. If your emails are ever requested, it will be publicly known that you blind-copied people.
- Your HFC emails are the property of Henry Ford College and can be accessed by College officials whenever necessary. Preserve your own integrity by using transparent communications practices that will not embarrass you later.
Using "BC" makes you seem secretive. Repeated use can gain you a reputation as an untrustworthy communicator.
Using "BC" creates drama and secrecy. Drama and secrecy are rarely desirable.
Transparency is best.
K. All your HFC emails are saved forever. Keep business and personal email separate.
Every email message you have ever sent, or ever will send, through the HFC system is saved. Even those you have deleted. This practice was adopted for legal reasons years ago, and will not change.
Thus, do not use your HFC email for any personal correspondence. Personal email accounts are easy to set up, free, and reliable through a number of service providers. Remember that all your HFC emails are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests, so you do not want to mix your personal and professional endeavors.
3. Storage of emails
The College automatically archives email messages each night for all full-time faculty, administrators, and staff. Archived messages are permanently saved, and are available via the archive link within GroupWise WebAccess. Visit the employee portal and click on "view your archive" to review archived messages. Sign in using your GroupWise credentials.
For adjunct faculty, the College does not archive email. However, email can reside in the user’s mailbox for 540 days and is then moved to Trash. After five days in Trash, the mail is permanently purged.
4. Legal matters
According to the HFC Acceptable Use Policy, email is similar to any other form of written communication and is subject to the same legal restrictions and potential liabilities as a paper document. Email may be subpoenaed, and is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As a result, HFC email should not be considered appropriate for transmission of confidential or proprietary information. Messages must be viewed as "business correspondence."
HFC does not monitor email. However, HFC does "own" all email messages sent through our systems, and if necessary, your email HFC messages can be accessed by College officials, without notice to you.** Unlike a written document that can be erased or destroyed by the writer, user deletion of messages renders electronic space in the system available for other messages, but does not erase the messages from the system. Therefore, users of HFC's systems should not expect privacy. It is incumbent upon all users of HFC's systems to treat misdirected email communications (e.g. messages inadvertently sent to the wrong person) with reasonable care to avoid undue disclosure of the messages of others.
Penalties for violation of these guidelines will vary depending on the nature and degree of the specific violation. Penalties range from reprimand through expulsion for students or termination for employees in accordance with the provisions of any College collective bargaining agreements. If violations of law are involved, users may incur civil liability to HFC or third parties, and may also be subject to prosecution.