How do you feel when you spot a smiley face in an email your staff sends? Does it make you recoil in disgust or are you cool with emojis and use them in work communications too?

Surveying more than 300 senior managers, a new report by OfficeTeam suggests that when using emojis in work communications, moderation is key (as with most things).

The report highlighted 39% stated it is unprofessional to include emojis or emoticons in work communications.

On the other hand, 61% of professionals were more accepting of adopting such elements.

Of these, while 21% said using emoticons at work was fun, 40% found it acceptable only in certain situations.

Despite the majority of professionals being open to using emoticons, how many workers actually use these emojis?

Polling more than 350 workers aged 18 and above, the survey found that a majority of office workers actually, don’t use emojis at all.

About a third of those surveyed said that they never use emojis in work communications and preferred to express themselves in writing.

Another 26% felt that emojis don’t appear very professional and revealed that they only make use of them sparingly.

On the other hand, 19% use them all the time with the reason that emojis help “show the feelings behind the message”.

Slightly more than two in 10 use them sometimes, limiting their use to “casual exchanges with coworkers and not formal communications with higher-ups”.

“Emojis and emoticons are showing up just about everywhere, but that doesn’t mean they’re always appropriate for the workplace,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam.

“While using these symbols can help employees convey their feelings and personalities in written communications, they can also be distracting and appear unprofessional.”


In line with that, OfficeTeam suggested five tips on using emojis and emoticons to avoid getting into trouble.

Limit it
Use emojis and emoticons minimally, if at all. Going overboard with these icons could annoy others and muddle your message.

Consider your audience
Be mindful of the corporate culture and your relationship with those you’re communicating to. Sending an occasional smiley face to a work friend may be OK, but is less so when interacting with your boss or company leaders.

Evaluate the situation
Including these images can add levity, but it depends on the topic. Leave them out when discussing serious matters, as it can appear awkward or rude.

Stick to what you know
Don’t use an emoji or emoticon if you aren’t absolutely certain what it represents and how it will be received. Some symbols can be taken the wrong way or have multiple meanings.

Just say it
When in doubt, rely on words to get your point across. Opt for in-person or phone discussions with colleagues if it’s helpful to see facial expressions or hear vocal inflections.

Image: 123RF

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This article was first published in Human Resources Online Bulletin and is reproduced with permission. Original article can be found at

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