When my mom, a baby boomer, sent our family a group text using what she thought was a Hershey Kiss emoji, everyone erupted in laughter. At least the emojis in response displayed that reaction. We informed my mom the emoji was something a little more vulgar than a Hershey Kiss, it was the poop emoji. She was slightly embarrassed.
Emojis have changed how we communicate over text message. Text messages however, are not the only forms of communication being impacted by emojis. Adobe released their second annual email survey today and found that 51 percent of older millennials (25–34), have used emojis in their work email. Text messages have influenced not only email, but work email too. 70 percent of respondents to the survey believe text messaging has influenced how email is used. Emojis, text messaging, instant messaging, chat rooms, and forums have altered communication personally and professionally.
Forms of communication are changing. Language is changing. My mom had one interpretation of an emoji, a wrong one by the way, and the rest of my family had a different interpretation. When interpretation and language have a breakdown, miscommunication begins to surface its ugly head. This is detrimental to relationships, working relationships, and business as a whole. As I was chatting with Ben Tepfer, Product Marketing Manager at Adobe Campaign, he told me, "Certain emails are sent at work where there is too much room for interpretation." What does "Thanks..." really mean? Is that sarcastic? Does it mean another email will follow with the "..."? Interpretation is causing many communication breakdowns in the workforce today.
Millennials Work Email Habits Take Shape in Businesses
Communication, interpretation, and forms of communication are not the only obstacles to businesses today. Many businesses are having to face the issue of new work email habits, specifically because of millennials. Millennials are the first generation raised on instant communication in digital form. These habits were shaped in this generation from childhood.
Millennial work email habits are even changing the ways businesses function today. With 54 percent of millennials citing that they use their smartphone as their primary device to check work emails, they are always attached to work. The workforce, specifically the millennial generation, is struggling to detach from work. People send 19 work emails on average and read 29 emails over the weekend. 49 percent of millennials check their email while still in bed. One quarter of people check work email constantly or frequently while on vacation. These are habits changing the way businesses function and millennials are a big reason why these habits exist.
It's not entirely clear why exactly millennials have a constant "on-switch" to work email. Some may feel the pressure of always being available to their boss in order to appear as a hard-worker. Maybe it's the rise in tech companies and millennials being constantly connected to devices. Then again, it could have some thing to do with so many people working virtually. Whatever the reason, millennials are significantly attached to their work email.
Work Email Habits Effect on Business Operation
Whether in marketing, human resources, or any other department, work email habits influence how businesses function. To be honest, work email habits do not necessarily need to be corrected or righted. Some habits just need to be addressed. Millennials have a high expectation to response time with work emails. Half of all respondents to the Adobe survey expect a response to their email within an hour. One fourth of older millennials expect a response to their work email within a few minutes. Work email habits need to be addressed.
If employees are checking their emails constantly or even frequently, how proficient are they to complete assigned tasks or projects? Multiple studies indicate that it takes people 15 to 25 minutes to get back on track after an interruption such as an email. These habits are impacting work production and proficiency greatly.
Obviously businesses are not going to eliminate work email, but they can alter the habits and expectations of emails. Businesses can implement policies to minimize the constant email interaction. They can have a set of standards to require a certain timeline to response. Emails should not be a hinderance to business production and growth, but a leverage to optimize employee's work and workplace culture.
Maybe it's time to reevaluate communication within your workplace. What are top priorities in reference to emails? What would boost employee morale? What would increase talent development? What habit has your company fostered in relation to work email?
Assess and implement.
Statistics provided within this article came from Adobe's second annual email survey, focusing on white collar work habits and behaviors in relation to personal and work email. If you would like to know more, visit Adobe. Interpretation of the survey are the author's own and does not speak for Adobe.