On the job, there's nothing more insufferable than putting up with bullshit when everyone around you could instead be, well, working. That might mean anything from chronically caustic employee to an HR complaint. It might also mean something as mundane as constantly listening to the people around you use words that don't mean anything tangible.
The corporate buzzword gobbledygook is real, from "pivot to video" to "synergy" to "buy-in" to -- cringe -- "impact." But not one of those words match the horrors that spill from this new list from Glassdoor, the website known for its anonymous reviews of companies by employees and former employees. Glassdoor publishes several studies and surveys on salary, internships, employee happiness, and ways to get a job. The company's latest is a survey of the most-reviled office jargon and business buzzwords used in the United Kingdom.
In its release of the list, Glassdoor pointed out just how pervasive and inescapable these words are, even though, anecdotally, both managers and employees agree that their usage is frustrating: "No one wants to be the office jargon junkie," David Whitby, the UK's Country Manager for Glassdoor said in a press release, "but who isn’t guilty of using some of these buzzwords from time to time?!"
To arrive at this list, Glassdoor UK surveyed 2,000 people in Great Britain from March 29, 2017, to April 4, 2017. These are the phrases that those surveyed highlighted as their most-reviled examples of out-of-control office jargon, along with the percentages of folks who voted on them, and Glassdoor's definitions of what those phrases actually mean:
The UK's most-hated business buzzwords
1. Touch base -- 24%
"To meet or talk about a specific issue."
2. Blue sky thinking -- 21%
"Creative thinking not grounded in reality."
3. We’re on a journey -- 13%
"Highlighting that a company, team or project has not yet reached its mission or objective."
4. Game changer -- 13%
"A product, idea or process that represents a significant shift in thinking or way of doing things."
5. No-brainer -- 13%
"Claiming that something is an irrefutably good idea."
6. Thought shower -- 11%
"A meeting to share ideas, often without considering practical limitations."
7. Run it up the flagpole -- 11%
"To present an idea and see if it generates a favourable reaction."
8. If you don’t like it, get off the bus -- 10%
"Implying that a colleague should leave a company if they are unhappy."
9. Mission statement -- 10%
"A stated 'reason for being' in respect of a company and its activities."
10. Pick it up and run with it -- 10%
"To continue an activity or process that someone else has started, often when that person could not finish it or make it work."
11. Punch a puppy -- 9%
"To do something horrible for the greater good."
12. Let’s get our ducks in a row -- 9%
"To align a team or multiple parties in preparation for an event or discussion."
In addition to these, Glassdoor also listed the words “stakeholder,” “paradigm shift,” “bandwidth,” and “roadmap” as idioms despised by 5% or less of the respondents.
Ultimately the goal of reading any information like this shouldn't be to punish or police or mock those who deploy this nonsense with abandon; it should be to help those of us who do. "Beware overusing jargon," Whitby said, especially when looking to change jobs or starting a new one. "It’s important to remember that each company and office may well have its own culture, language quirks and acronyms, so new starters should try and get to grips with that quickly to help integrate."
Tempering your language is never bad advice, and Glassdoor has more tips to avoid using jargon. Currently, the company has no plans to unveil a version of this study to the United States, a spokesperson confirmed to Thrillist, but if it eventually does, my money says "synergy" makes the top five.