Why and How to Handwrite a Letter to an Employee

In the Digital Age, communication happens at the click of a button. Your employees are probably communicating with dozens of people in their professional and social circles every minute of the day, through email, instant messaging, text messaging, social media, and more.

All those digital communications are critical to a functional work and life — but because most of those messages are fired off in a matter of minutes, they rarely have the chance to make an employee feel a special type of way.

When you want to show an employee that you truly care, you need to put pen to paper and write a note the old-fashioned way. Here are some tips for handwriting notes to employees, to ensure your message has the right emotional impact.

When an Employee Deserves a Handwritten Note

It would be a waste of your time to put pen to paper every time you need to send a message to a worker. Digital communications became popular because they are exceedingly efficient.

It might take only a few seconds to fire off an email, and you can send an unlimited number of them for essentially no cost. Handwriting all those communications would take ages, wrack up stationary costs and give your hand a serious cramp.

Instead, you should reserve handwritten notes for special occasions.

Here are five good reasons to break out your stationery in the workplace:

Gratitude. A thank-you note is a genuine, personal expression of gratitude that people tend to hold onto and remember. You should personally thank employees who go above and beyond to achieve organizational goals.

You should also issue thank-you notes to workers upon retirement, who have given much of their life to the success of your company.

Praise. Recognition is an incredibly powerful force in the workplace, as demonstrated by the effectiveness of employee recognition programs. With handwritten messages of support for a job well done, you can provide workers satisfaction for their efforts and achievements while encouraging other workers to copy their behavior.

Often, employees will hold onto handwritten notes of praise to help motivate them to new heights in their careers.

Joy. Joyous occasions certainly warrant a handwritten note. An employee’s birthday — especially a milestone birthday like 30 or 40 when they are more likely to make moves in their career — the purchase of new property or the birth of a child are all exciting events in a worker’s life that can be celebrated with a card and simple note.

Sympathy. You should always send a note when a worker suffers a loss, but you should remember that the last thing grieving employees want is to think about work.

You can reduce some of their stress with a card that expresses your sympathy for their loss and reassures them that their position will still be available to them when they feel comfortable returning to work.

Apology. No one is too high in business to apologize. When you make a mistake that impacts one of your employees, you should issue a sincere apology in the form of a handwritten note.

This should help restore your relationship and repair any damage to the workplace atmosphere and culture.

The Anatomy of a Handwritten Note

The content of a handwritten note will vary depending on your reason for writing it. Most handwritten notes should be short and sweet, focusing on the reason you are writing the note and expressing your feelings with genuine language.

You should send your note in a timely manner, as close as possible to the event that necessitated the note, so the worker understands the connection between the note and their behavior.

A handwritten note does not need to be many pages in length. In fact, because your employees are as busy as you are, you should restrict your message to a couple of paragraphs at most.

Generally, you want to explain the purpose of the note, remark upon any effects resulting from your worker’s behavior, provide a relevant personal anecdote and reaffirm your feelings about the employee.

You can tinker with this formula to find a structure that fits your communication style and goals.

Email, instant messaging, and text are essential communication services — but in terms of sentimentality, they cannot beat a handwritten note. The more notes you write to your employees, the more comfortable you will be with the medium, and the more benefits you will see from the old-fashioned handwritten note.