The Latest Digital Marketing Articles

The Latest Hospital Digital Marketing Articles

GreyMatters is your hospital digital marketing guide, with articles on hospital digital marketing best practices, trends, updates and more.

Emojis in Workplace Communications: Thumbs Up or Down?

Nov 18, 2022

About a year ago, a poster on Reddit created a viral craze with a post that asked the question “Am I not adult enough to be comfortable with the ‘thumbs up’ emoji reaction?” The resulting thread uncovered a generational divide in which many Gen Z commenters reacted negatively, saying they perceived a “thumbs up” emoji” to be rude, abrupt or passive aggressive. image of thumbs up emoji

To find out if there really is a generational divide over emojis in business communications, Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock, a communications consulting firm that works with healthcare providers, surveyed their team, which consists of multiple generations. The survey used the following questions:

  • How often do you use emojis in personal communications (e.g., texts to family/friends)?
  • How often do you use emojis in professional communications (e.g., Teams notes)?
  • On a scale of 1-5, How much do you like the built-in reactions in Teams?
  • What are you typically trying to convey when you use the thumbs-up emoji?
  • How are you most likely to interpret the thumbs up emoji when others use it?
  • Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements: The thumbs up emoji is abrupt / The thumbs up emoji is a good way to acknowledge someone / The thumbs up emoji is rude / The thumbs up emoji is a good confirmation of mutual collaboration and agreement / The heart emoji is inappropriate / The heart emoji is a positive way to convey agreement and appreciation
  • What emoji do you use most often at work?
  • In the past six months, have any of your work-related messages been misunderstood or misinterpreted by colleagues?

The results were divided into four age categories: age 21-29 (20 respondents), 30-39 (29 respondents), 40-49 (15 respondents) and 50+ (6 respondents). Some results were:

  • When asked how often they used emojis in professional communications, most respondents indicated emoji use between “infrequently,” “once every few messages” and “once every couple of messages.”
  • For most of the respondents, their use of the “thumbs up” emoji meant “acknowledgement” or “like.”
  • Most of the respondents disagreed that using the “thumbs up” emoji is abrupt, although about one-third agreed and another 15% found it rude. In general, the older the respondent was, the less rude they considered it to be.
  • Over half of the respondents weren’t sure if any of their professional messages had ever been misunderstood by a colleague.

So, what to make of all of this? A few communications concepts are worth considering, such as:

  • Communications feeds into culture. New people in the organization bring in new perspectives.
  • Message sent is not always message received.
  • It’s best to assume good intent.
  • Mind the trends.

How would you rate the overall communications within your organization?

  • emojis
  • internal business communications
  • Marketing Trends