HR Manager Survey Shows Which Office Buzzwords Need to be Banned

    When “Weird Al” Yankovic makes fun of you in a song, then you know that you might have a problem.

    Granted, the tune “Mission Statement” is just plain funny – its lyrics are all about how corporations of all sizes use words that make sense to no one…maybe even themselves. Set in a folky way to a tune befitting Crosby, Stills & Nash, the song starts out with lyrics that go something like this: “We must all efficiently operationalize our strategies/Invest in world-class technology/And leverage our core competencies.”

    Accountemps logoThat is another reason why we love the new Accountemps survey, which outlines “The Top 20 Most Annoying Buzzwords and Phrases in the Workplace.” According to a recent review with human-resources managers, “dynamic,” “deep dive” and “leverage” were among the most overused and annoying business buzzwords.

    According to Accountemps, the survey “was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on interviews with more than 600 HR managers at U.S. and Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.”

    Background: Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 340 offices worldwide.

    “Clarity is still king when communicating in the workplace,” Bill Driscoll, New England district president of Accountemps said in a statement. “Jargon tends to confuse, not clarify. It’s generally best to avoid the tired cliches and trendy buzzwords in favor of clear, straightforward language.”

    Managers were asked, “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?” Their responses included:

    •    “Out of pocket”
    •    “Deep dive”
    •    “Forward-thinking”
    •    “Dynamic”
    •    “Let me get back to you.”
    •    “Pick your brain”
    •    “Employee engagement”
    •    “LOL”

    In what may be a sign of both employee burnout and improved job prospects, some of the phrases suggest workers now feel more comfortable venting about their workloads and salaries:

    •    “It’s not my job.”
    •    “It’s above my pay grade.”
    •    “When am I going to get a raise?”
    •    “I am overwhelmed.”
    •    “Crunch time”

    Some buzzwords simply refuse to go away. These well-worn words and sayings also were cited in similar Accountemps surveys conducted in 2004 and 2009:

    •    “Win-win”
    •    “Value-added”
    •    “Think outside the box.”
    •    “Leverage”
    •    “At the end of the day”
    •    “Circle back”
    •    “Synergy”