#280: Most Used Corporate Jargon in English | 13 Trending Examples

Jul 5, 2023 | Business Professional English, Communication Skills, English Conversation

Desk-bomber. Digital nomad. Hustle culture. 

Whether you’re talking with coworkers about current workplace trends or listening to the latest news stories, there’s an endless list of corporate jargon.

If you feel lost when you hear such language, you’re not alone.

Several months ago, I shared a lesson titled “English Corporate Language | 21 Examples of Jargon, Buzzwords, & Corporate Speak” and I received comments from many of you stating how helpful it was including: 

“I’ve heard some of these phrases at work, but didn’t know the meaning. I get it now.  You are the best!!!”

“It explains a lot about why I felt so lost when I started working here in Canada. I hear those expressions every day, but now, after watching your video, I feel more confident to use them when necessary. Thank you!”

 

On top of that, a recent Business Insider article highlighted research from the UK indicating that many young professionals — particularly those just now entering the workforce — feel confused and left out by workplace jargon. 

In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn 13 examples of the most used corporate jargon trending online and in the workplace so you can engage in conversations with coworkers and follow the news confidently.

WATCH THE LESSON

Most Used Corporate Jargon in English | 13 Trending Examples

Also known as corporate speak, corporate jargon is industry-specific language including specialized terms, phrases, and acronyms used by those who belong to the corporate world. 

When used correctly, it functions as shorthand language for professionals within an industry to communicate complex ideas, concepts, and processes quickly and efficiently. In other words, it can lead to greater clarity.

Moreover, corporate jargon can save time, eliminating the need for lengthy explanations for those who share a common understanding of the terminology.

Lastly, the use of corporate jargon can create a sense of belonging and shared identity among people of a particular organization or industry.

However, when overused, jargon can be more of a disruption, creating barriers to understanding for anyone outside of a specialized circle. 

For effective professional communication in English, it’s best to use jargon sparingly and balance it with communicating in plain, simple language.

With that in mind, let’s look closely at 13 examples of currently trending corporate jargon in English.

To best organize this lesson, I’ve split these examples into 2 categories:

Category 1: Corporate Jargon Used to Describe Others

Category 2: Corporate Jargon Used to Describe Work Styles

Category 1: Corporate Jargon Used to Describe Others

When working with others, some words or phrases can help to accurately describe the type of colleague you have. 

These words and phrases are among the most-used corporate jargon for describing coworkers and upper management: 

Corporate villain 

  • Def: an individual who prioritizes a healthy work-life balance, including their own mental health and personal well-being, over their work responsibilities, often resulting in a negative impact on the workplace.
  • Ex. “Last year, Gen Z declared they would be corporate villains and not work after conventional office hours.
  • Note: In late 2022, social media saw a huge spike in corporate-villain content as a result of the post-pandemic shifts in workplace expectations and a rolling recession.

Work wife/husband

  • Def: a person who platonically (not romantically) provides you with emotional support, camaraderie, and companionship in the workplace.
  • Ex. “My work wife and I started working at this company at the same; we can easily understand what the other is thinking.” 
  • Note: You may hear other iterations like ‘work mom,’ ‘work dad,’ or even ‘work bestie’ to further describe the type of professional yet platonic relationship you hold with the other person.  

Polymath 

  • Def: someone with extensive knowledge in various subjects (not a generalist: someone who has some knowledge about various subjects).
  • Ex. “Christina is a total polymath. She knows the industry inside-out and always has an answer to your questions.” 

Desk-bomber

  • Def: an individual who unexpectedly approaches someone’s desk for unscheduled conversations
  • Ex. “I often work from home when I need to focus because I don’t know when a desk-bomber will interfere with my train of thought.

Digital nomad 

  • Def: (similar to nomad or traveler) someone who works remotely and often moves from place to place, usually for travel or to temporarily live in another country.
  • Ex. “My dream is to be a digital nomad who lives on a tropical island for six months a year.
  • Note: In 2023, more employers shifted to remote work and offered greater flexibility to employees. Since then, more workers have opted to travel while working.

Workfluencer

  • Def: a type of social-media influencer who regularly shares work-related content on social media platforms.
  • Ex. “I follow a few workfluencers on Instagram; their posts are so funny and relatable.

Talent debt 

  • Def: a group of disengaged and unproductive employees that an employer fought to retain, but are now too expensive to retain.
  • Ex. “Low motivation is creating a talent debt in the marketing department.
  • Note: Other descriptions of talent debt include underdeveloped talent, poor performers, time wasters, and those who are burned out or are no longer productive resources.

Social loafer

  • Def: a psychological term that refers to someone who tends to be less productive and works less toward group goals when at the office versus when working alone.
  • Ex. “Sometimes I don’t go into the office because I don’t want to turn into a social loafer who chats all day instead of getting things done.

Category 2: Corporate Jargon Used to Describe Work Styles

Similarly, the past few years have also given rise to terms that are most used in the corporate world to describe work ethics or work styles:

Chaotic working 

  • Def: using one’s position to hand out perks and freebies, often to clients, at the employer’s expense; specific examples include giving people employee discounts or waving fees without explicit permission to do so. 
  • Ex. “The previous manager was known for chaotic working and it caused issues with HR.

Grind/Hustle culture

  • Def: a mindset and lifestyle that emphasizes relentless hard work, dedication, and constant productivity (often associated with reaching success and gaining wealth).
  • Ex. “After the pandemic, many corporate workers rejected hustle culture and prioritized their mental health.” 

Purpose-driven 

  • Def: when one’s purpose, values, and morals are at the forefront of every decision or change made.
  • Ex. “I prefer to work in a purpose-driven environment, rather than one that prioritizes sales above anything else.

Proximity bias

  • Def: the tendency of leadership to favor in-office employees and view remote workers as less productive and/or committed.
  • Ex. “Due to proximity bias, in-office employees were more likely to receive promotions at work.

Career cushioning 

  • Def: being proactive about your career prospects in case anything goes wrong with your current job; in other words, it’s giving yourself a Plan B. It doesn’t mean you’re actively looking for a new job but you may keep an eye on vacancy announcements or decide to take some training courses to boost your resume just in case.
  • Ex. “Fiona is low-key career cushioning since they’re laying off employees.”

Share your thoughts and questions!

After reviewing this lesson, I have 2 questions for you:

  1. What corporate jargon do you often hear at your workplace?
  2. How would you use the jargon from today’s lesson to describe someone at work?

You can share your answers — as well as your questions — with me in the comments below.

~ Annemarie

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