The Impact of Positive Emojis on Creativity in the Workplace

In today’s digital age, computer-mediated communication has become an integral part of the workplace. With the increasing use of email, instant messaging, and virtual meetings, employees rely on these digital channels to communicate with colleagues, clients, and customers. Emojis, small digital images or icons that convey emotions and expressions, have emerged as a popular form of communication in these online interactions. However, the impact of emojis, particularly in the context of leader-member relationships, remains relatively unexplored. This article delves into the influence of a leader’s use of positive emojis on members’ creativity and sheds light on the positive outcomes that can arise from incorporating emojis in computer-mediated communications.

The Rise of Emojis in the Workplace

In today’s digital workplace, the use of computer-mediated communications has become prevalent, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to remote work arrangements. Emojis, which originated as an evolution of emoticons, have gained popularity as visual cues that enhance communication by conveying thoughts, emotions, and intentions. Studies have shown that a significant number of employees use emojis in professional settings, considering them as valuable tools for expressing emotions and facilitating communication.

Need for Research on Emojis in Organizational Settings

Despite the widespread use of emojis in the workplace, limited research has been conducted on their effects, particularly in the context of leader-member relationships. Previous studies have suggested that the use of emojis by leaders may lead to negative perceptions, such as unprofessionalism or emotional immaturity. However, it is important to explore the specific circumstances and conditions under which emojis can have positive impacts on workplace outcomes.

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Impact of Positive Emojis on Members’ Creativity

This research aims to investigate the influence of a leader’s use of positive emojis on members’ creativity. Creativity is a crucial factor for organizational success and innovation, and leaders play a significant role in fostering creativity among employees. Positive nonverbal cues, such as smiles and approving gestures, can signal attention, approval, and positive expectations. Similarly, positive emojis used by leaders in computer-mediated communications can convey similar positive signals, enhancing members’ creative performance.

Decreasing Perceived Objectification through Positive Emojis

One of the mechanisms through which positive emojis impact creativity is by decreasing members’ perceived objectification by the leader. Objectification occurs when individuals feel they are treated as objects rather than as human beings. Positive nonverbal cues, including positive emojis, can signal acceptance, approval, and value, reducing the perception of objectification. This, in turn, frees up cognitive resources, allowing individuals to engage more effectively in creative tasks.

Role of Relationship Orientation

Members’ relationship orientation, or their concern for and reaction to interpersonal relationships, moderates the impact of positive emojis on creativity. Relationship-oriented individuals tend to be more sensitive to others’ behaviors and strive to form positive relationships. They are likely to value positive emojis as signals of positive expectations and acceptance from leaders. Thus, the impact of positive emojis on creativity is expected to be stronger for individuals with higher relationship orientation.


This research sheds light on the positive impact of a leader’s use of positive emojis on members’ creativity in computer-mediated communications. It challenges the belief that emojis are inappropriate in the workplace and highlights their potential to enhance important workplace outcomes.

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By incorporating positive emojis, leaders can foster creativity among their team members, especially those with a higher level of relationship orientation. Emojis offer a valuable means of nonverbal communication in the digital workplace, providing an avenue for expressing emotions, conveying approval, and facilitating positive relationships.

As organizations continue to embrace remote work and virtual interactions, understanding the role of positive emojis becomes increasingly relevant for fostering creativity and promoting positive outcomes in the workplace.

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