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Misspelled names, emojis, memes: 10 things that annoy people the most in work emails

Misspelled names, emojis, memes: 10 things that annoy people the most in work emails


While close to a quarter of people surveyed would get annoyed if a name was misspelled in a work email, 15% also admitted to spelling a name wrong in the recent past.

If the team at HRO — and even you, our reader — earned a dollar for every time our name was misspelled in an email, we could all probably be really rich by now. 

While email etiquettes have evolved overtime, there remain many areas of contention among employees, according to a 2023 survey in the US. And out of all, names being misspelled was the biggest area of contention identified, with nearly a quarter of respondents (24.4%) admitting they would be annoyed if they received a work email in which a name was misspelled.

While this was so, 15% of the respondents also admitted to spelling a name wrong in the recent past.

*Note: While the survey was conducted in the US, HRO believes the data remains relevant to our audience in Asia.

Coming in next was the use of smiley faces/emojis, with 2.16% of the respondents finding them irritating in work communications; although 28.9% said they have regularly used them in the last 12 months. By demographic of users, Gen Z were the least likely to be annoyed by them (12.2%), while those aged 35-44 found them the most irritating (26.4%).

Similarly, 20.5% of workers said they were not fans of pet names being used, with Gen Z the biggest haters of this (28.6%). When it came to memes, the survey noted the following:

  • Overall, 18% of respondents get annoyed by memes in work communications, of which 20.9% comprises 35–44-year-olds and a much lower 8.2% comprises 18–24-year-olds. 

The survey further revealed the following things that annoyed people in work emails:

  • Over usage of exclamation marks - 17.3%
  • Managers being cc-ed or bcc-ed in the email - 16.9%
  • Impersonal greetings, such as 'What's up?' - 15.7%
  • Not using 'hello' or 'hi' at the start - 13.1%
  • Unnecessary puns - 13.1%
  • Not signing off, or signing off with a singular letter - 9.5%

Most common email faux pas

The above aside, the survey also revealed the top email blunders employees have committed in recent times — with the most common being sending emails complaining about a manager or colleague to a work friend (20.4%); followed closely by accidentally emailing everyone in the department (19.1%), and forwarding an email chain so as to get someone into trouble (16.8%).

Other blunders include:

  • Accidentally sending an email chain to someone who is unfavourably mentioned in the messages (16.1%)
  • Accidentally emailing everyone in the company (15.3%)
  • Emailing something confidential to the wrong person (15.1%)
  • Cc-ed the wrong person (14.8%)
  • Bcc-ed/cc-ed someone's manager in an email to get them into trouble (12.7%)

As broken down in the survey, over a quarter (28.6%) of male respondents in the Millennial age group admitted to tattling on their colleagues by discreetly informing seniors of poor behaviour, compared to 22.4% of women, while those aged 25-34 were the most likely age group to do so (30.1%) followed by those aged 45-54 (26%).

READ MORE: Do you know what your Gen Z employees' slang terms mean?

Photo / 123RF

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