Jobs and the Future of Work

‘FYI’: The most annoying corporate jargon, rated

Over a quarter of respondents encounter corporate jargon multiple times a day.

Over a quarter of respondents encounter corporate jargon multiple times a day. Image: Pexels/Sora Shimazaki

Ewan Thomson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • E-learning platform Preply surveyed over 1,000 working Americans about their feelings on corporate jargon, and the results indicate that we would prefer less of it, especially in job postings.
  • The report also feeds back respondents' views on generational jargon, corporate jargon and emerging modern jargon.
  • Here are the most annoying words or phrases to see in a job post, and other jargon-related trends in 2023.

Jargon is a common feature of many professions and industries, from medicine and law to finance and technology. But a recent survey on corporate jargon indicates that we are largely unimpressed by its usage, and could all do with a lot less of it, especially in job postings.

E-learning platform Preply surveyed over 1,000 working Americans about their feelings on corporate jargon.

Here are the most annoying words or phrases to see in a job post, and other jargon-related trends in 2023.

A graphic showing the most and least annoying corporate jargon seen in job posts.
The most and least annoying corporate jargon seen in job posts. Image: Preply.

‘Like a family’

Respondents to the survey found “like a family” to be the most annoying phrase in job postings — with 38% of votes — closely followed by “fast-paced environment”, with 37%.

Companies on the hunt for “ninjas”, “gurus” and “rock stars” might do well to avoid such nebulous buzzwords, as they do little to enhance the attractiveness of the job posting, according to the research.

Asked how buzzwords in a job posting influences them, 43% of respondents said it made no difference, but 55% viewed them negatively. And zero respondents said buzzwords make them eager to apply for the job.

Corporate jargon

Over a quarter of respondents encounter corporate jargon multiple times a day.

And we encounter the most corporate jargon in emails, followed by in-person meetings and via instant message, but significantly less on phone or video calls, the survey indicates.

A graphic showing corporate jargon ranked by usage.
An abbreviated version of ‘for your information’ topped the list of most used jargon. Image: Preply

FYI — an abbreviation of “for your information” — was the most commonly used piece of corporate jargon, followed by "at the end of the day", and "win-win".

Top of the list of most annoying corporate jargon was "circle back", while other phrases to do with discussing something later such as "let’s table this" and "put a pin in it" all seem to evoke a strong negative response.

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Emerging modern jargon

Preply’s survey also asked about the most annoying modern buzzwords, which 42% of respondents said was the term “new normal”. “Lean in” was the second most annoying modern buzzword, with 18% of the total votes, and “hop on a call” can third, garnering 16% of votes.

Generational jargon

Older employees like to get their “ducks in a row”, the number one office expression for baby boomers, followed by other metaphorical phrases, such as “boots on the ground,” “reinvent the wheel,” “think outside the box,” and “wear many hats”.

Younger workers are bringing in shorter, more informal buzzwords to the workplace, with “vibe” the leading word for generation Z in 2023, followed by “no cap”, “bet” and “lit”.

A graphic showing the corporate jargon Gen Z is bringing to the chat in 2023.
The corporate jargon Gen Z is bringing to the chat in 2023. Image: Preply.

Promoting communication and understanding

Jargon has been around for centuries, and its origins can be traced back to various professions and industries.

Increasingly, though, industries are striving to simplify their language and communicate more clearly with the wider public, as there is evidence that jargon disrupts people’s ability to fluently process certain information.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report aims to provide a clear picture of how the world of jobs and skills is changing, for both employers and employees. It combines the views of business leaders with data from public and private sources, providing in-depth information for 15 industry sectors.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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