Survey Finds 78 Percent of American Workers Are Emotionally Disconnected at Work
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Survey Finds 78 Percent of American Workers Are Emotionally Disconnected at Work

May 20, 2014


SAN FRANCISCO, CA–(Marketwired – May 20, 2014) – According to a new nationwide study released today, American workers are craving a stronger emotional bond in the workplace and struggling to express their feelings through digital messages, especially when the sentiments could be seen as negative. However, many believe that having a closer emotional connection with colleagues would improve their attitude and the work they produce.

The new survey of more than 1,000 American workers with smartphones, commissioned by enterprise mobile messaging company Cotap and conducted by Kelton Global, also reveals that emoji could be an effective way to fill the emotional gap.

The Desire for a Stronger Emotional Connection at Work

  • 78% of American workers do not feel very emotionally connected to those they work with, such as coworkers, bosses and clients
  • 33% wish there was a better way to express emotions when communicating to those in the workplace
  • More men than women (36% to 29%) want a better way to express their emotions at work

However, if American workers felt a stronger emotional connection with their colleagues, everything from productivity to feelings of well-being could improve:

  • 54% would be less stressed
  • 50% believe performance would improve with better quality work
  • 50% think there would be a boost in efficiency
  • 48% believe there would be a rise in productivity
  • 40% would be happier
  • 35% would feel more like themselves
  • 33% would have a greater sense of fulfillment
  • Men are more likely than women to believe being better connected emotionally to those in the workplace would increase efficiency (53% vs 45%) and productivity (52% vs. 42%)

Negative Sentiments Are Difficult to Communicate at Work
A contributing factor to the issue of emotional disconnect at work could be due to the fact that 81% of American workers find it challenging to convey emotion in digital communications to those they work with. Here are the top emotions these workers struggle to communicate in email, texts and instant messages:

  • 57% Frustration
  • 39% Disappointment
  • 35% Urgency
  • 28% Happiness
  • 27% Excitement
  • 27% Gratitude
  • 25% Agreement

The Popularity of Emoji Translates to the Work Environment
Emoji are now commonly used in the workplace. In fact, 76% of American workers admit they have used emoji in digital communications to people in their professional life. Here’s a breakdown of which emoji these folks send:

  • 64% Happy face
  • 16% Thumbs up
  • 7% Winking face
  • 3% Heart
  • 3% Surprised face
  • 3% Sad face
  • 2% Thumbs down
  • 1% Angry face

The idea of sending an emoji to convey emotion is so appealing that 75% of employed Americans are willing to use emoji more in work communications. For many, this boils down to what it will reveal about them:

  • 50% of these folks would use emoji more if they wanted to come across as more personable, friendly or casual
  • 40% would do so in order to show more of their personality
  • 28% would do so if a larger variety of emoji were available to show different emotions or actions

“The risk of being misunderstood is high in any digital communication; it’s hard to interpret humor and emotion because the appropriate speech conventions don’t exist in written language. You get much more meaning out of someone’s tone and body language than you do their words,” said Jim Patterson, co-founder and CEO, Cotap. “To some people, emoji might seem frivolous and not meant for serious work communication, but they are actually a powerful way to express emotion and intonation in a text. Combined with creative use of punctuation, emojis serve the same function in text as body language does in conversation; they can convey real emotion and empathy, which is a more natural way to communicate.”

Survey Methodology
The Cotap Workplace Communications Survey was conducted between March 21-April 1, 2014 among 1,015 employed Americans ages 18 and over who own a smartphone, using an email invitation and online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all personas in the universe represented by the sample. The margin for any subgroups will be slightly higher.

About Kelton Global
Kelton Global is a leading global insights firm serving as a partner to more than 100 of the Fortune 500 and thousands of smaller companies and organizations. Utilizing a wide range of customized, innovative research techniques and staff expertise in marketing, branding, PR, media, and business strategy, Kelton helps drive our clients’ businesses forward.

About Cotap
Cotap is a San Francisco-based company bringing mobile-first communication to the workplace. Cotap provides a simple and secure messaging solution for colleagues to connect and collaborate with each other from their mobile devices. Backed by Charles River Ventures and Emergence Capital Partners, the company was founded by Jim Patterson and Zack Parker, former Yammer executives with backgrounds in mobile communication and enterprise software. The Cotap app is free and available for download in the App Store and Google Play Store. For more information, visit the website and follow @Cotapon Twitter.

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