Nearly a quarter of employees have suffered problems with colleagues or clients because their use of humour in an email has not been understood or appreciated, according to a survey.
The poll of 1,000 full-time and part-time employees carried out for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) comes ahead of the introduction of new regulations designed to promote effective communication in the workplace.
From 1 October all businesses will need to have in place statutory minimum dismissal and disciplinary procedures, requiring employers and employees to follow a simple three-stage process to ensure that disputes are discussed within the workplace before any further action is taken.
The rules aim to provide a means of resolving disputes which could otherwise lead to an employment tribunal.
Other findings from the poll indicate that men are less adept at surviving in the 'communications jungle' than women, with 28 per cent of men admitting their jokes have backfired (compared to 19 per cent of women), and 26 per cent misjudging their timing compared to just 13 per cent of their female counterparts.
Employment relations minister Gerry Sutcliffe said in a statement: "A more relaxed work culture and a rise in the use of modern technology such as email have resulted in great benefits for business. But get the tone or timing wrong and there could be tensions and a breakdown of communication at an individual level.
"The key to any problem is to try to nip it in the bud by dealing with it when it arises and stop things escalating - that's why it is vital to have sound procedures in place to deal with disputes in the workplace."
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