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15 Business Words We Want to Ban in 2015

Patrick Ball on January 09, 2015 09:50 AM

Corporate jargon can border on the ridiculous, which is why each New Year brings a new list of business terms to ban. 

But we’d like to think list is a little bit different than the others. What separates us from the pack is that is that we’re going beyond the overused, outdated and misappropriated frequent fliers you’ll find elsewhere (But we’ve got those too – promise) to suggest a re-imagining of a few long-held ideas.

We want to bury work-life balance and forget about fringe benefits. Let’s kill Casual Fridays and do away with people-focused culture. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.  

What's on your list of workplace terms to ban? 

  1. Work-Life Balance – It’s 2015, people. Let’s stop pretending we leave our work at the office – if we even have one, that is. For decades now, technology, society and the economy have redefined when, where and how we work. It’s time to stop chasing this bygone ideal of work-life balance—a concept built on the false premise that the two sides are equal—so we can move forward and achieve successful, sustainable work-life integration. 

    Read more about Whether Work-Life Balance is Still Possible

  2. “Fringe” Benefits – Forget, for a moment, that “fringe benefits” has real HR meaning and think about how it comes across to employees. Talking about compensation and total rewards a few week ago, a couple of colleagues were amazed to learn what falls under the “fringe” umbrella. “My family isn’t fringe!” said one, almost incredulously. You know what? She's right. Employee health isn't fringe either. Given the sophistication and priorities of today’s jobseekers, isn’t it time we reframe the way we think about employee benefits?

    Learn How to Support Employeees with Better Benefits

  3. Remote Employees – Calling employees remote connotes they’re outside the Mothership. Problem is, in a global economy there is no Mothership. Modern, growing and global organizations should be thinking in terms of distributed talent, not remote employees.
  4. Casual Fridays – A cultural dinosaur in a business casual world. You don’t have to kill the dress code completely, but treat your employees like adults and trust that they’ll dress appropriately for their role.

  5. Deck – Do you have the deck? Can you send the deck? Let’s put together a deck. Calling it a “deck” doesn’t make your PowerPoint more interesting. In fact, it might just have the opposite effect of making minds wander from your meeting room to a backyard or on a boat, where decks really belong.

  6. People-Focused Culture – When culture is done well it is, by nature, about the people. By labeling your company culture as “people-focused,” you’re being a superfluously redundant (see what we did there!?)

  7. Big Data – The Information Age! The Cloud! We get that there’s an unprecedented amount of data available to us. What we don’t get is what you want us to do with “Big Data” … other than listen to them on Internet radio.

  8. Hack – When referring to a quicker fix (not Sony), this one’s, like, so 2012. You know, before the Web was overrun with life hacks, growth hacks, budget hacks, time-management hacks and other hack headlines worthy of the original misappropriation of the word.

  9. Disrupt – Uber did it. Airbnb too. Now every startup wants to disrupt the norm. But at this point, the cool new thing will be disruptive of the disrupting. Here’s what Time said about it:
    “Disrupt: Silicon Valley types may be changing sleepy industries, but this word is more worn out than startup names that sound and look like six-year-olds came up with them. You just might strangle the next “disruptor” you meet with his hoodie drawstrings.”
  10. Leverage – Hardly a new entry to lists of cringe-worthy business jargon, the use of “leverage” as a verb has been making business writers’ skin crawl for years now. Used as a verb, leverage means to use something to your advantage. So why not just use use?
  11. ‘HR Won’t Let Me’ – Not true. Managers and executives make the rules; HR just enforces them … when they have to.

  12. Viral – “Our fetishization of ‘viral’ has reached idol-worshiping proportions, without any reference to whether there is any value to the thing going viral,” Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, has said. If the clickbait queen can say that, organizations can aspire to do better than cat videos.

  13. Think Outside the Box – Forget the box. If you’re still thinking about the box, you’re doing it wrong.

  14. Synergy – Now that “Friends” is on Netflix, can we send this back to the 90s where it belongs?  It’s a confusing, amorphous workplace catch-all that changes meaning depending on who says it.  

  15. Bae – Just stop.

What business words do you want to ban? Any recommendations for renaming one of the above?