Culture

Workers love using exclamation points!

The once frowned-upon punctuation is now embraced in the remote and hybrid workplace
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Much like the dreaded thumbs-up emoji, an exclamation mark (or lack thereof) at work can make or break someone’s day.

We asked readers how they use exclamation points and emojis at work, and the response was pretty overwhelmingly in favor of extra expression: exactly half of respondents said they use “!” occasionally, while 40% described themselves as an “over-exclaimer.”

Just 10% said they don’t use exclamation points or emojis at all at work.

What the experts say. The use of emojis and exclamation marks to convey emotion has increased thanks to remote work. In fact, a March 2022 survey from video-messaging app Loom, found that 82% of workers felt the need to use extra punctuation to clarify their thoughts at work.

Experts say that workers are adding personality and intention in an environment where it wouldn’t otherwise be clear. “In person, you might say, ‘What a great idea,’ and you’d smile and lean forward, and there’d be excitement in your voice,” Jeanine Turner, a communication professor at Georgetown University, told Insider. “Your challenge on Slack is to communicate that same enthusiasm with your hands tied behind your back. If you were to say ‘nice’ or ‘good’ without an exclamation point or smiling emoji, the other person might come away thinking, ‘'Is this terrible?’”

While using exclamation points in work emails is common, it’s important to not overuse them, wrote Elizabeth Danziger, founder of Worktalk Communications Consulting. She explained in Inc. that one exclamation point seems the most genuine. “When writers use too many exclamation marks, readers may feel they protest too much. I’m not just sorry, I’m sorry!!! The additional punctuation loses its impact and may even seem false,” she wrote.

Perhaps the Jeb! campaign was ahead of its time.—KP

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.