Survey reveals top annoying buzzwords, phrases at work

Certain terms and phrases are more common — and grating — than others, and can have a greater impact than expected

TC Media
Published on September 4, 2014
Bombarding colleagues with certain buzz words and phrases can be grating as well as ineffective.

While today's workplace is awash with buzzwords and clichés, certain terms and phrases are more common — and grating — than others, according to a survey of human resources managers developed by staffing service Accountemps. The survey is based on interviews with more than 600 HR managers at U.S. and Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

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



Let me get back to you

Pick your brain

Employee engagement


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:



Think outside the box


At the end of the day

Circle back


These words and phrases can sometimes have a greater impact than expected.

"When it comes to effective communication in the workplace, the importance of clarity cannot be stressed enough," said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian district president of Accountemps. "To avoid ambiguity and confusion when communicating, the use of buzzwords and industry jargon should be avoided in favour of straightforward and uncomplicated language."