Overused Buzzwords: It’s All Good at the End of the Day

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 25, 2020

 “At the end of the day,” “it is what it is”: The workplace is overwrought with clichés, buzzwords, and industry jargon, often leading to a “disconnect” between coworkers. “Viral” terms and phrases like these are among the most overused in the office, according to a recent survey by staffing services firm Accountemps.

“When business or industry terms become overused, people stop paying attention to them,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies®, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.). “The best communicators use clear and straightforward language that directly illustrates their points.”

In the survey based on telephone interviews with 150 senior executives from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies, participants were asked:  “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?”
Their top responses included:

  • Leverage:  As in, “We intend to leverage our investment in IT infrastructure across multiple business units to drive profits.”
  • Reach out:  As in, “Remember to reach out to customers impacted by the change.”
  • It is what it is:  As in, “The server is down today, and clients are irate. It is what it is.”
  • Viral:  As in, “Our video has gone viral.”
  • Game changer:  As in, “Transitioning from products to solutions was a game changer for our company.”
  • Disconnect:  As in, “There is a disconnect between what the consumer wants and what the product provides.”
  • Value-add:  As in, “We have to evaluate the value-add of this activity before we spend more on it.”
  • Circle back: As in, “I’m heading out of the office now, but I will circle back with you later.”
  • Socialize:  As in, “We need to socialize this concept with our key stakeholders.”
  • Interface:  As in, “My job requires me to interface with all levels of the organization.”
  • Cutting edge:  As in, “Our cutting-edge technology gives us a competitive advantage.”

The following phrases have been named to the buzzword “Hall-of-Fame,” having appeared in the current survey as well as a similar survey conducted by Accountemps in 2004:

  • Synergy
  • Solution
  • Think outside the box
  • On the same page
  • Customer-centric

Some phrases cited in the recent survey suggest executives are suffering from recession fatigue, including:

  • Recession
  • Depression
  • Economy
  • Do more with less
  • Restructuring
  • Downsizing
  • Gloom and doom
  • Pay freeze
  • Bailout
  • Overworked

“Nearly everyone is guilty of using buzzwords from time to time,” Messmer noted. “But professionals are evaluated increasingly on their ability to communicate. Avoiding overused terms, particularly in formal communication, can help workers more effectively convey their message.”

Now that’s thinking outside the box.

Accountemps has more than 360 offices worldwide.  For more information about the buzzword survey visit www.accountemps.com