More than 40% of employees use emojis at least once a day, with 19% including them in internal emails and another 19% using them in meeting tool chat messages, according to a recent survey from Clutch. Emoticons facilitate communication and create a casual work environment, but some employees have concerns about emojis causing confusion about what people really mean
Workplaces are divided over if it is acceptable to use emojis in business communication. According to a study of 500 full-time employees in the U.S., almost half of employees (44%) use emojis at least once a day, while about a quarter (23%) have not used emojis at all in the past three months. The data was collected by Clutch, the leading B2B ratings and reviews platform.
The divide over if it is appropriate to use emojis in work-related communications shows how people remain torn over what is most important when creating a company culture.
While nearly one-third (31%) of American workers rely on emojis to convey tone and visualize emotions better in workplace communications, another 31% of workers said it is very unprofessional to use emojis in work emails.
Emojis Help Employees Stay Connected in a Remote Work Environment
Although emojis can help coworkers build stronger connections as they work from home, only 15% of employees said they used emojis more during the pandemic, according to Clutch’s study.
Alexis Wirth, operations manager for Swenson He, said emojis helped boost company morale and improve relationships during COVID-19.
“Our goal with use of emojis is not only for efficient communication, but also to establish a work culture that understands that internal communication can be fun too,” Wirth said.
Before the pandemic, casual conversations in the office enhanced company culture and boosted morale. Without face-to-face conversations, teams lost office social interactions. Now, some employees rely on emojis to replicate this camaraderie.
More than thirty percent (31%) of people send emojis to colleagues at the same level, but only 5% feel comfortable sending emojis to the CEO of their company.
Using Emoticons Can Lead to Miscommunication Issues at Work
Although most employees (80%) have never received an emoji they did not understand from a colleague, emojis can be misinterpreted, leading to awkward situations in the office.
“I actually sent what I thought at a glance was a smiling emoji to a business associate whose wife found me on LinkedIn to inform me it was, in fact, a hugging emoji, which apparently constitutes flirting.”
Although this was a miscommunication, the issue could have escalated quickly. Since emojis became more prevalent in the workplace, employment lawyers and HR professionals have become concerned that certain emojis can constitute harassment.
Employees need to be careful about what emojis they choose to use in the workplace. Businesses looking to avoid translation mistakes can provide context through text-based messages or by banning emojis they think are inappropriate.