“Does anyone want to buy some girl scout cookies?”

We’ve all wanted to do it. Send an e-mail to all of our colleagues letting them know we are raising money or selling something for a good cause. What a great way to “reach the masses” right?

Using work e-mail for personal useBut when using e-mail at work, here is a small word of caution about the do's and don'ts. Right now, in particular, because of the time of year, I'm going to focus on just one "don't". But first I revert back to the 20th century when I was a little girl (no jokes here!)

As I remember -- many, many, MANY years ago, growing up in the Midwest when the selling season began, all the brownies and girl scouts dressed in their uniforms, grabbed their order forms, and canvassed their neighborhoods selling cookies. I, personally, loved that time of year and the challenge of competing with my friends.  There were no cell phones, no e-mail, no parents taking the order forms to work -- at least not for me. You see, my family was in the hotel business, and I remember begging my father to just put the order form at the registration desk so that the guests could order cookies. At that young age, I couldn't understand what a challenge it would be when the cookies finally arrived and we would be faced with the daunting and costly task of shipping all the cookies to those guests who lived elsewhere. But in the end, this was a door-to-door process to sell those cookies.

Coworkers are often happy, and more than wiling to help others raise money. BUT, at some point we have to draw the line and determine what is acceptable and appropriate to do at work, using our business tools, specifically e-mail, to do so.  Company e-mail is intended for communicating business-related information and not for solicitation for charitable causes, selling your home, increasing cookie sales, etc.

Just like most companies, MATRIX is no different. We want to encourage and support our coworkers and their families in so many different ways, and especially by ordering those melt-in your-mouth Thin Mints.

Employees are welcome to put their order forms and other information they want to share at their desk. Several have their child attach a hand-written note to the order form and place it in the break room or other common area.

Just like in the movie, Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come." If you put the information out there, they most likely will contribute, buy, or participate. Just don't, please don't, use company e-mail for solicitation purposes.

About the Author: 

Sandy Jess is the Director of Human Resources at MATRIX Resources. Her 20+ years of Human Resources experience in the staffing, software, insurance and retail industries has enriched her understanding of human nature — from the candidate, the employee and even the employer perspectives.

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