The modern working environment is fast-paced and focused on optimal use of an employee’s time, which is why individuals must strive to deliver information as quickly as possible, in a clear and concise manner.
However, the process of sharing information or tasks between workers can often become convoluted by office jargon, which often leads to confusion or a more detailed explanation being required, which requires more time. It is worth mentioning that not every use of office jargon is done in the above way; it can be used in a much more innocent manner.
Dr Julia Claxton, principal lecturer in leadership and organisational development at Leeds Beckett University believes that office jargon can lead to hurt feelings, unclear goals and ambiguous strategies. These three points can contribute to low morale, which is the basis of an ineffective team.
So, how can you ensure your workplace isn’t over-ran by office jargon?
Kit Out My Office, a company that manufactures and sells office furniture, implemented a total ban on office jargon and buzzwords, as the workforce collectively agreed they were unhelpful. Leading the initiative was Gareth Jones, commercial manager for the business, who collated the ideas of employees on how to stamp out annoying office jargon.
Below is a list of the options available to you if you want to stamp out jargon words in your workplace:
Implement a ‘Jargon Jar’
It is exactly like a swear jar, but for office jargon words. Whenever someone utters a jargon word, they must place a defined amount of money in the jar (this could be a nominal figure such as 10p). To make it work properly, implement a list of banned jargon words, rather than letting people decide on-the-fly (this may just result in a negative impact on morale).
If employees aren’t happy putting in their own money, you could opt for tokens instead. At the end of a predefined time (such as the end of each month), the tokens are tallied up against an assigned monetary value which is donated to charity by the company.
Gain collective approval from the entire workforce
For any initiative to work, it’s better to have collective approval from the entire workforce, or as close to it as possible. In Kit Out My Office’s case, they held a company-wide meeting that asked whether or not they see office jargon words as an issue.
It’s the perfect place to share opinions from everyone, especially if they disagree, as it gives you a chance to answer questions and allay fears.
Without collective approval, you’re likely to face issues, such as people not taking part or it potentially having a negative impact on their happiness in the workplace.
Start slowly – implement it for one team and see if it works
If you’ve not achieved collective approval from the entire workforce, try and implement it for one team only and gauge how it works. It would be better to start with the worst offending team, if it is easy to identify one that particularly uses a lot of jargon words.
Produce a list of common office jargon used in your office
To help everyone in your workplace understand what is considered jargon, either poll everyone, asking for their most hated jargon, or introduce a list such as the below. This can be considered a vital step in the process of eliminating jargon, as you do not want ambiguity.
Most annoying office jargon as shared by Kit Out My Office employees:
Think outside the box
It’s not rocket science
Can I borrow you for a second?
‘Acceptable’ jargon used by staff at Kit Out My Office:
Thrown under the bus
Move the goalposts?
If you do choose to stamp out the use of office jargon in your office, it’s important you understand how your employees are responding and whether or not it is in a positive or negative way. Simply holding a team meeting after a week or so after implementation allows people to voice their opinions. This is vital information that allows you to understand whether or not it is working.
After the initial meeting, you may want to schedule one more in a month’s time to again gather feedback. After this session, it’s more than likely that staff have stopped using jargon words altogether or they are subconsciously starting to avoid their use.
Kit Out My Office implemented the above procedures over the course of a two-month period and found that staff had stopped using jargon words or buzzwords subconsciously, which was their aim. Although use of such words does happen from time-to-time, staff have responded favourably to the scheme and overall say they’re generally happier now.