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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2

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The Place of Emojis in Written Business Communication

Written business communication has a variety of purposes, which govern the structure and manner in which information is sent and received between individuals. The method of interaction in the business sector has changed over time, primarily as a result of the advancement of technology and globalisation. Emojis (classifying emojis and emoticons) have great potential in being a source of benefit and detriment to business environments and there is therefore a place for them in written business communication, reliant on circumstance.  Emojis have a place in business communication depending on whether the intended communication is internal or external, the type of organisation, the demographic of the employees as well as the corporate culture of the organisation. However, the use of emojis can be considered inappropriate and allow for more subjective interpretation, rather than objectivity, which is not ideal for formal business communication. Therefore, there is a specific time and place for the use of emojis in written business communication. Business is essential to the proper functioning of our world and we must ensure that the proper forms of communication are upheld, to assist in its efficiency.

The context of communication dictates the suitability for the use of emojis in business. Business communication can occur internally and externally. Internal communication within a team of employees of an organisation is centred around positive environments and support. The use of emojis can create bonds as well as promote team work, trust, friendship and collaboration, which ultimately leads to a more productive workforce. However, external communication, involving separate bodies, such as clients, suppliers, and investors, is characterised primarily by increased formality. This form of communication does not constitute the use of emojis as they are unprofessional and can be confusing to understand due to being susceptible to subjective interpretation as a result of their visual form. The article “Putting Your Emotions on Screen,” comments on the fact that in some situations, the use of emojis can be considered inappropriate, highlighting the specific nature of the times where their use is beneficially applicable. This can be associated with the context of the communication, such as the who the senders and receivers are, in relation to corporate hierarchy, as well as whether the business communication is occurring internally or externally in regard to the company. External communication must display disparity between emotion and business as it is essential to demonstrate objectivity and have no emotional investment in other companies as this may compromise the success of the intended communication.

The type of organisation can also be a determining factor in identifying the appropriateness of the use of emojis. Specific organisations, such as marketing and advertising groups, rely on human emotion for their proper functioning. These organisations benefit from informality and the use of emojis can assist in conveying the emotions necessary. Whereas other organisations, such as banks and law firms, are focused around formal business communication which is extremely literal in an attempt to remove subjectivity as it can cloud an intended perception, compromising clarity of the message.

The nature of the communication in business in relation to the culture of organisations and countries alters the manner in which emojis should be used. The article “Employee Attitudes and Job Satisfaction” explores the degree of impact a company's culture has on a workplace, which ultimately contributes to employee performance. It focuses on the components of attitudes, which is cognition, affect and behaviour, with affect relating to the emotions of the employees which impacts on their attitude and performance. It has been found that there is a positive correlation between organisational commitment and job satisfaction (Okpara 1996), with studies demonstrating that the increased level of commitment will lead to improved job performance (Quereshi, Saleem, Basheer, Salahuddin, Sheikh, & Saadat, 2012). Thus, it is ideal for organisations, to create a culture that promotes job satisfaction, as it will increase performance. This culture can be created through enabling employees to develop greater emotional connection with other members of the company through the use of emojis and other forms of informal interpersonal communication. This provides ample evidence of the potential effectiveness that emojis possess in strengthening bonds and improving job satisfaction in employees as a result of more positive attitudes, enhancing business performance, thus presenting that there is a time and place for emojis in written business communication.

The demographic of a group of employees dictates the suitability of the use of emojis. In an era focused around the development and use of technology, a large proportion of the workforce has extended working hours due to increased their availability derived from the use of smartphones and computers. Similarly, the skill base of the employees in regard to use of technology, which is heavily a result of age will result in differed understanding and use of social media and technology.  In the article “Emojis: Insights, Affordances, and Possibilities for Psychological Science,” the development of emojis is discussed as well as the increasing uses of emojis and the value they hold in business communication. Emojis have the potential to portray facial expressions that are otherwise not expressed in written communication as it does not contain the nonverbal behaviours apparent in communication. The study states that they are capable of providing emotional tone to messages, which can deepen personality and relationships between employees, improving connectedness between a company. However, as mentioned in the article, emojis are a rapidly growing form of communication that has only become accessible and commonly used since the introduction of smartphones and advanced computers. Thus, there is a discrepancy in what is considered an appropriate use of emojis in relation to the age and generation of the employees. Generally, employees of the millennia are more competent with the use of technology and have a less formal way of communicating, heavily influenced by social media. Older generations of the workforce, such as baby boomers, are generally less adept in their use of emojis and therefore the use of emojis directed towards and made by workers of the generation would be considered less appropriate.

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