Survey: Corporate Jargon Hinders Authentic Workplace Communication

3 mins read

Recent research by BRITA VIVREAU UK reveals a pervasive challenge in modern workplaces: the ubiquitous use of corporate jargon and its adverse impact on genuine communication among employees. The study shows how reliance on corporate buzzwords not only fosters disconnection but also stifles employees’ inclination to engage in meaningful dialogue at work.

Here are some key insights from the research

A quarter (25%) of office workers feel alienated from their colleagues due to the overuse of corporate jargon.
Nearly a third (31%) experience diminished confidence when communicating with senior colleagues amidst a sea of buzzwords.
More than half (53%) admit to succumbing to the temptation of using corporate jargon while at work.
Exposure to excessive jargon discourages 29% of employees from initiating conversations with their peers and dissuades 25% from actively participating in meetings or asking questions.
Notably, Gen Z employees appear particularly susceptible, with 38% less likely to initiate conversations and 32% less inclined to ask questions in the presence of corporate buzzwords.

The study also highlights the perception that corporate jargon is often gratuitous, with 30% of respondents viewing it as unnecessary filler. Senior managers bear the brunt of this criticism, with 45% of employees identifying them as the primary purveyors of jargon.

Eloise Leeson-Smith, a prominent linguist and language expert, emphasised the detrimental impact of corporate jargon on workplace dynamics, noting its role in fostering exclusion and impeding collaboration. Leeson-Smith warned that ineffective communication stemming from jargon could incur substantial costs for employers, with estimates suggesting losses of over £11,000 per employee in productivity.

Leeson-Smith also advocated for a workplace ethos centred on authentic communication and connection, urging organisations to create avenues for genuine interaction.

Aligned with these findings, employees expressed a preference for authentic, face-to-face conversations over impersonal forms of recognition. Two-thirds (68%) regard receiving praise in person from their manager as more meaningful than email acknowledgments or vouchers.

Water cooler conversations emerged as pivotal in nurturing authentic workplace interactions, with nearly half (48%) of office workers citing them as the setting for their most genuine exchanges. These informal dialogues not only foster a sense of camaraderie but also facilitate relationship-building and team cohesion.

Chris Dagenais, General Manager of BRITA VIVREAU UK, highlighted the importance of water cooler moments in fostering genuine connections among employees. Dagenais underscored the role of these casual encounters in facilitating hierarchical conversations and strengthening bonds within teams, ultimately contributing to a more cohesive and inclusive workplace culture.

Some of the most overused phrases identified by respondents include “touch base,” “quick win,” “synergy,” “circle back,” “bandwidth,” and “deliverables,” among others.