Emoji Training

September 06, 2022
Inside HR
Read time: 2 mins

Upon receiving a very cute video of my great-niece practicing her oboe, I responded to the text message using the peach emoji—as in “she’s such a peach.” The response I received from her mother, my millennial niece, made it abundantly clear that my naive understanding of emoji use sometimes translates to be a bit on the “spicy” side 😳! A quick Google search led me to an emoji dictionary that totaled 75 pages 😲! I had no idea there are so many! Of course, I now wonder how many texts I’ve sent using emojis that could be interpreted in a completely different way than I intended 🤦‍🤷‍.

Shortly after this educational experience, my HR news feeds included several stories of employment-related lawsuits in which the plaintiff included the use of emojis in their sexual harassment complaints. In most of the cases, the use of emojis, including the 😉 and others, were deemed “flirtatious” by the courts, but did not rise to the standard of being pervasive. However, in one case, their use was a contributing factor in determining that harassment did occur.

Considering the confusion and ambiguity that can be associated with emojis, it may be an opportune time for employers to review their social media and communication policies to ensure they reflect not only traditional modes and methods of communication but also address current trends. Updating your policies to reflect new methods of messaging, including the use of emojis in both internal and external communications, will help establish expectations for your employees. Follow-up training with employees and managers will also reinforce your company’s message and ensure employees’ understanding of your policy. Some organizations that have chosen to allow emojis have also chosen to limit the characters available, in an effort to avoid any potential issues.

With a thoughtful approach by employers, a clear policy, and ample training, employers can establish a strong foundation for handling these newer forms of communication. 👍🏼😁