Emojis have quietly crept into the workplace in recent years, as more businesses use text messaging for work-related communications. What originated on Japanese mobile phones in 1997, subsequently gained popularity worldwide in the last one decade and are becoming part of the new normal workplace. However, Opinions were and are still divided on whether people should express their thoughts with symbols instead of words in business communications.
An article published on the occasion of World Emoji Day on July 17, says, highlights a report that suggests even though the scales tipped in favor of using emojis in business communication (60%) in the increasingly virtual world, a section of professionals continue to refrain from using emojis in business practice.
Business owners, directors as well as middle and senior management across multiple industries were asked how they felt about using emojis in their day-to-day business communication. The survey found, while emojis can be a creative and fun way for employees to express themselves, it also presents some concerns leading to conflicts, both within the workplace and with customers or clients.
Nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents who believe emojis are fun and approachable fell within the ages of 25-44 year. The one-third was above 45 year old, and the majority of them were either company owners or directors.
The number one reason businesses use emojis was that it made them more approachable (51%) and added an element of fun, while 45% said it was unprofessional and that customers won’t take them seriously. The undecided respondents said they would only consider using emojis if they had an established relationship with a client.
“It seems to be a personal preference, but it’s interesting to see how regardless of whether or not you use emojis in your business communication, it’s become an acceptable form of professional communication,” Nathalie Schooling, CEO of nlighten said in the blog.
“A lot of the respondents mentioned relationships as being a deciding factor on whether or not to use emojis. If you work in the B2B sector, relationships are key to client retention so it makes sense that some would only consider using smiley faces in their emails if they had an established relationship with a customer,” says Schooling.
Adobe font and emoji developer Paul D. Hunt states in his official blog that people respond more emotionally to imagery. In digital communication, Hunt says, emoji can convey tone and emotional reaction better than words alone.
Experts also believe how a business uses emojis tells you a lot about their company culture and says that normalizing emotional expression in the workplace is in fact healthy. Companies that ban emojis or frown upon them actually risk coming across as a bit stuck up or old-fashioned.
The study notes that brands that used emoji in their subject line experienced a surge in visibility and engagement, which ultimately boosts revenue. In order to get the most engagement, use popular emojis that your audience will recognize and love. For example, the study shows that the humble smiley face got the majority vote (54%) as the most used emoji in business communication, followed by the thumbs up emoji icon (41%).
Since emojis evoke an emotional response, Schooling believes, it can be useful in sales, marketing and in businesses dealing with customers, as it can make the customer feel like they are interacting with a human. “Tone of voice and context can be easier to express with visuals, and many companies have embraced the emoji as a way to convey empathy and authenticity during the pandemic.”
In the mobile-first world, emojis add that little personal touch to a digital conversation. While there is no point in going overboard, in today’s time, especially, where most conversations happen digitally, we don’t get the chance to share facial expressions and other nonverbal cues in our emails. The right use of an emoji may come to our rescue, making business communication a lot easier! 🙂