Younger Employees Have No Idea of Workplace Jargon, Duolingo Finds

Photo Credits - Dylan Gillis via Unsplash

A recent survey done by educational technology company Duolingo in partnership with LinkedIn has found that younger employees tend to not understand workplace jargon, causing a drift between the generations in the workplace. The survey was conducted by both companies as part of their State of the Workplace Jargon Report which covered jargon usage in workplaces around the world. 

They recognise that the modern workplace has created a phenomenon where employees tend to use a certain language of their own – yet it also carries the possibility of impacting the way employees communicate. The use of jargon may help or worsen it. 

Through this survey and report, they aim to illustrate the impact of jargon on workplace communication. 

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State of the Workplace Jargon Report

The survey was done with 8,000 working professionals across eight countries; India, Vietnam, Colombia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the USA, Japan and Australia. The objectives were to seek insights into the most misunderstood and overused jargon, different generational perspectives on jargon and the attitudes of employees towards understanding new jargon. 

Through this, they found that 58% of working professionals feel that their coworkers overuse jargon. Nearly half also admitted that they would like to eliminate jargon if possible. Further, 60% of workers felt that they had to navigate the usage of jargon independently – causing added stress to their roles which also slows down productivity. 

In the UK, the most confusing jargons are:

  1. Blue sky thinking
  3. Low-hanging fruit
  4. Move the needle
  5. Ducks in a row

And the most common jargons used in the UK are:

  1. Moving forwards
  2. Touch base
  3. Noted
  4. Singing from the same hymn sheet
  5. Blank canvas

This survey also revealed that the younger generation is the most negatively impacted by the use of jargon. Nearly half or 46% of younger workers have made mistakes at work due to not understanding the jargon, and 54% have changed the way they speak to fit in the workplace. 

The usage of jargon has created a gap between generations in the workplace. 

Generational Gap in the Workplace

Managers face a significant challenge when leading teams composed of workers from various generations, as each group brings unique expectations and life experiences to the workplace. It goes beyond maximising employee performance; it involves ensuring that everyone enjoys a fulfilling work experience.

Every generation possesses its unique set of characteristics and preferred communication styles.

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In a workforce comprising different generations, communication challenges can arise among employees. For instance, if one employee prefers emails for documenting conversations while the other person prefers more informal text messages or phone calls, miscommunication may occur.

Older generations generally prioritise face-to-face communication and may feel frustrated when their attempts at communication are overlooked or misunderstood due to excessive reliance on technology. Younger generations, on the other hand, heavily rely on technology for communication, which can be challenging for older generations to grasp.

The added layer of jargon usage further complicates the situation, drifting the generations apart. It is a challenge for management to ensure that there is a bridge between generations in communicating towards each other to ensure an integrated and cohesive workplace. 


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