Procurement · 26 July 2017

The 12 most irritating office buzzwords employees want to banish forever

Cropped shot of coworkers using sticky notes on a glass wall during a meeting
Experts have suggested office buzzwords are used to make a task seem more important than it actually is

Of all the things that define Britain’s working culture in 2017, few divide opinion as strongly as office buzzwords and jargon. Now, new research has settled once and for all which phrases and cliches employers should stamp out of the workplace to restore a sense of reason.

After surveying the opinions of 2,000 UK office employees, recruitment site Glassdoor has announced a game-changing list of 12 buzzwords threatening to push staff over the edge.

The 12 most infuriating office buzzwords as submitted by UK employees

  1. Touch base – 24 per cent

To meet in person and talk about a specific issue.

  1. Blue sky thinking – 21 per cent

Creative thinking that breaks away from confined, ordinary ideas.

  1. We’re on a journey – 13 per cent

Suggesting a team has not reached its mission but is on its way.

  1. Game changer – 13 per cent

Something that dramatically changes assumptions about how things are done.

  1. No-brainer – 13 per cent

Something immediately obvious or irrefutably a good idea.

  1. Thought shower – 11 per cent

A meeting to freely discuss new ideas in their early stages.

  1. Run it up the flagpole – 11 per cent

To trail or present an idea to see what kind of reaction it gets.

  1. If you don’t like it get off the bus – ten per cent

Suggestion that someone should just leave a company if they’re not happy.

  1. Mission statement – ten per cent

An assertion of values an motivations with regard to a company and its work.

  1. Pick it up and run with it – ten per cent

Continuing with a project that was started by someone else.

  1. Punch a puppy – nine per cent

To do something horrible for the long–term good of the company.

  1. Let’s get our ducks in a row – nine per cent

To fix different interests, parties and priorities in preparation for an event.

According to Gareth Jones, business manager at furniture retailer Kit Out My Office, office buzzwords are often used to elevate menial tasks, but were generally innocent in their use.

Jones added: “The modern working life is fast-paced, and as such we strive to deliver information in a clear and concise manner. The downside of this is it is a breeding ground for jargon. Setting a collective resolution in your office to stamp-out jargon could definitely help to improve morale.”

We asked Twitter which office buzzwords were the most controversial


Commenting on the rise of workplace jargon, Dr Julia Claxton, principal lecturer in leadership and organisational development at Leeds Beckett University, suggested untrammeled use of office buzzwords could have a more sinister impact.

“Hurt feelings, unclear goals and ambiguous strategies are just a few examples of issues that can arise and contribute to low morale and are the basis of an ineffective team that can be easily avoided,” she said.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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