Survey Reveals Most Overused Workplace Terms

“At the end of the day,” “it is what it is”: The workplace is overwrought with cliches, 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 Accountemps survey.

“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.”

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 150 senior executives from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, “What is the most annoying or overused phrase or buzzword in the workplace today?” Their 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.”  

Accountemps conducted a similar survey in 2004. The following “Hall-of-Fame” buzzwords were cited in both surveys:

—  At the end of the day
—  Synergy  
—  Solution  
—  Think outside the box  
—  On the same page   
—  Customer-centric  

Some phrases cited in the most 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.”

Accountemps has more than 360 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at

Michael Weiss of Robert Half International Inc.,
+1-650-234-6383,, for Accountemps

Web Site:

Source: Accountemps


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