Close up of business man using phone

Employee portal app etiquette: your mini guide

Think of your employee portal app like a visit to a virtual office. These places should be calm, friendly and inclusive. You should feel your blood pressure lower. A distinct sensation of Zen. Perhaps even nap pods and free snacks, like they have at Google HQ.

But I digress.

If your office was full of yelling, swearing and impatience – would you feel productive? Would you get much work done? Exactly.

Here are all the things you should keep an eye out for when communicating on your employee app. Think of it like your very own Debretts.

1. Keep it professional

Your employee app is an extension of your workplace. That means the same basic rules of kindness and courtesy apply. Keep your posts and messages colleague-friendly. Start a new chat with a greeting, and end on a positive note (‘thanks’, ‘catch up soon’ or ‘great work’…

Close up of woman using smartphone.

2. Take care with what you share.

As with any digital communication system, what’s online will stay online. It’s almost impossible to delete embarrassing messages and posts irretrievably. If you have any doubts about the reliability of something you are (re-)posting, fact-check first. If you worry about potential impact, talk it over with someone whose judgement you trust, and run the post by them before you send it. 

3. Shift your mindset from synchronous to asynchronous.

Many companies rely (too much) on synchronous communication. That means expecting staff to be ‘always on’, and to answer questions as they come up – instead of prioritizing things methodically.

Employee apps offer the opposite: asynchronous. You can still put messages out there, but they will be replied to when the receiver has the time. Unlike a Zoom meeting, where a response is instantaneous.

Close up of person holding iPhone with Blink App open

So remember, your colleague(s) may be busy, on a shift, away from their desk or even in another timezone. If you post outside work hours, keep in mind that everyone is entitled to time to switch off.

4. Respect (and cherish) diversity.

Assume that not everyone will share your political views. Don’t tout opinions or language that might trigger other people, or that someone may find offensive. Racist, sexist, ageist or otherwise prejudiced comments have absolutely no place on an employee app.

5. Don’t rush.

Always review what you are about to share, keeping in mind who it’s going to. Don’t send something in a flustered hurry or in a moment of stress, frustration or anger. If in doubt (even if it’s a tiny niggle), don’t push the send button just yet. Step away for a few minutes. Get yourself a coffee. Then read your post or message as if you’re the one receiving it. Remember it has to be clear, concise and kind.

Two girls using an iPhone and laptop.

6. Go easy on the emojis.

I love emojis; I probably over-use them. But some are a bit … wild and weird, or open to multiple interpretations. If you are using an emoji, make sure it can’t be misunderstood. Smileys are generally fine – except if they follow a mean remark or a cheap shot…

Close up of phone with Emoji Keyboard open.

7. REMEMBER! CAPITALS ARE VERY LOUD!

If you use all caps, you will sound like you’re shouting, even if you don’t mean to be. Shouting on an employee app never achieves a positive result.

8. Stay on the right side of ‘funny’.

Everyone appreciates lighthearted humour. But hilarity at the expense of someone else, or sarcasm, ridicule, passive-aggressive jokes … they are — well, just not funny. And they definitely don’t belong on an employee app.

Other things to radically avoid

Swearing, harassment, personal remarks, veiled insults, gossip, rants, snarling and sniping…

The final reminder? If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face in the office, don’t put it on your employee portal app.