Can using emojis pose a risk to your business?

Emails, SMS, and instant messaging systems enable businesses to interact with customers, suppliers and partners quickly and easily.

As a result, business communication has become much more informal than it was in the pre-digital era.

It’s not uncommon for emojis, such as a thumbs-up or smiley face, to find their way into business related messages. And while these symbols may help position your organisation as friendly and approachable, using them in a commercial context is not without its risks.

In Canada, for example, a farmer recently found himself in court after responding to an SMS photograph of a contract with a thumbs up emoji.

He argued that sending the emoji simply meant he had received the document and would review it in due course. The recipient and judge saw it differently – the Canadian judge ruled the symbol was every bit as valid as a signature and ordered the farmer to pay the costs associated with an unfulfilled contract, to the tune of more than A$60,000.

There is also the danger that customers could become confused or offended if employees use emojis to respond to enquiries and complaints in ways that are ambiguous or inappropriate.

Implementing emoji policies

Given the negative repercussions that can ensue, it makes sense to mitigate the risk emojis can pose, Broker Technical Manager Michael White says.

“Unclear communication is at the root of many conflicts in business and emojis can add an element of uncertainty ”

That starts with establishing a policy that details exactly when, where and how your team members can use emojis in work related communications, including emails, chats and social media platforms.

The consequences of violating the policy – for example, warnings, formal reprimands, or termination – should be specified clearly.

Emoji etiquette education is also a must. Armed with a better understanding of how various emojis can be perceived, employees are less likely to use them in ways that may give rise to misunderstanding or offence.

Monitoring and managing usage

Putting emoji policies in place is one part of the solution. The other part involves monitoring and managing those policies.

Fortunately, there is an abundance of digital tools that business owners can use to help them track, analyse and report on their team’s emoji usage.

Keeping your finger on the pulse in this way can help you avoid potential issues before they become problems for your business.

“Unclear communication is at the root of many conflicts in business and emojis can add an element of uncertainty to emails and messages,” White says.

“Taking straightforward steps to address the risk will reduce the likelihood of your business becoming embroiled in controversy or a costly dispute.”

Having the right cover in place can help protect your business from a range of liabilities and risks.

Your broker or adviser can help you source the right insurance for your risk profile. Contact your broker today to discuss your requirements.


Important notice – Steadfast Group Limited ABN 98 073 659 677

This general information does not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation or needs. It is also not financial advice, nor complete, so please discuss the full details with your insurance broker or adviser as to whether these types of insurance are appropriate for you. Deductibles, exclusions and limits apply. These insurances are issued by various insurers and can differ.


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