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Communicate Fun: How GIFs and Memes Spark Positive Employee Engagement

Communicate Fun: How GIFs and Memes Spark Positive Employee Engagement

The digital workplace is rapidly changing. Gone are the days of fax machines and memos, and as remote work increases and digital communication channels like Teams and Slack continue to gain prominence, how we communicate with each other has also changed. One of the latest trends transforming office environments is the use of GIFs and memes as a primary mode of communication. No longer left for social media, using GIFs and memes can help teams communicate beyond traditional words.  

But, do GIFs and memes enhance or distract from communicating effectively in a professional setting?

Benefits of using GIFs and Memes

Healthy communication is a key indicator of employee engagement, and how you communicate is just as important, if not more than, what you communicate. Using GIFs and memes in your communication can help enhance your communication style by adding a new dimension to how you are communicating.

Here are some key advantages of incorporating GIFs and memes into your professional interactions:

1. Humor and Fun. Fun is an important aspect of a healthy culture. In fact, one of the questions on the Best Christian Workplaces Employee Engagement Survey is “I have fun at work.” As such, leaders can look for ways to further enhance company culture and embrace fun by pursuing new communication methods. GIFs and memes can help break the ice, bring a degree of lightheartedness to certain topics, and foster teamwork. 

Leaders who can embrace fun and have a sense of humor ultimately help reduce tension, break down barriers, and build trust with their employees. Likewise, employees who are happy and have fun at work are more productive, and more likely to stay with the company longer, reducing turnover rates. All around, a fun workplace is a win for everyone.

2. Express emotions. Especially for remote teams, it can be difficult to express emotions or reactions effectively. Text alone can come off as dry or be easily misinterpreted, whereas a GIF or meme may be able to add an extra layer of expression to enhance the interaction. Try using a GIF to express your congratulations to a teammate for acing a presentation or expressing gratitude for the team's hard work and teamwork on a recent project.

At Best Christian Workplaces, we use GIFs and memes to help provide quick and easy bursts of humor and fun into our everyday communications. As a fully remote team, we share life updates, team shoutouts, friendly sports banter, and more in our “Watercooler” Teams channel. This designated channel is an appropriate place to share fun announcements, funny memes, and celebratory GIFs.

3. Communicate complex topics. Sometimes, less is more. When communicating a complex topic, a visual metaphor can help make ideas more concrete and understandable.

Memes and GIFs are often more memorable than plain text. You can use a GIF or meme to help reinforce key points, making it easier for employees to remember important details about a complex topic. For example, a funny meme in a presentation about project management best practices could help team members remember to include project due dates for their deliverables.

Leveraging the power of GIFs and memes can significantly improve team dynamics, boost morale, and streamline communication. In the midst of what might be mundane communication, a bit of humor can bring a smile to a coworker and boost morale.

Do’s and Don’ts for Using GIFs and Memes at Work

While GIFs and memes can be beneficial, it’s important to use them appropriately. Here are a few quick tips.Seth Meyers Tips GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers

Do - Know Your Audience: Just like any communication, it’s important to be considerate of others. Make sure the content you’re sharing is appropriate for the workplace and isn’t offensive. Be aware of the context as well. What might be appropriate with one coworker may not be appropriate when communicating with someone else.

Do - Lead by Example: The best way to help teams understand what is and isn’t appropriate is to lead by example. Set the tone by appropriately using GIFs and memes in your own communication and set clear expectations if there are certain contexts or types of humor that are off-limits.

Do - Encourage Participation: An easy way to start encouraging more fun communication methods is by creating intentional channels or threads where GIFs and memes are the norms. This encourages everyone to participate and contributes to a fun and inclusive culture, while also being a safe space to explore for those team members who may not be as familiar with communicating in this way. 

Don’t - Remove Meaningful Communication: While GIFs and memes are great, they shouldn’t replace meaningful communication. Use them to enhance your messages, not to replace substantive discussions. Relevance is key and the delivery of your messages will be more impactful and appreciated when done tastefully.

Don’t - Overuse: When communicating with GIFs and memes, moderation is key. Using too many GIFs and memes can clutter communication channels and even minimize the seriousness of your messages. Be careful to not distract from your primary message with the humor of a GIF or meme. The focus should always remain on work-related content; memes and GIFs can enhance the primary message when used appropriately.

Don’t - Ignore Feedback: Especially if incorporating humor is new, pay attention to how your colleagues react to your use of GIFs and memes. If you notice discomfort or negative feedback, adjust your approach. Equip managers to provide feedback about appropriate communication without being overbearing or prescriptive.

Incorporating GIFs and memes into your workplace communication can significantly enhance the culture and engagement of your team. When used appropriately, they can foster humor and fun, creativity, and a sense of community. So, go ahead and add a little fun to your professional interactions—your team will thank you for it!



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