Published By: Satavisha

Common Corporate Jargon That Gen Z Is Struggling To Understand: Decipher The Meanings Of Eight Common Workplace Phrases

Young Gen Zers are starting to join the workforce and are hoping to establish their network and climb the corporate ladder, only to realise that they need to learn the corporate jargon—a whole new language—to keep pace with their older colleagues.

After losing two years to the pandemic, Gen Zers want to compensate for the time lost. They are keen on avoiding anything that can potentially devour more time from their life. In a similar vein, corporate jargon is a time drain for young professionals. Why do corporate employees need to come up with complex phrases that often call for translation?

Gen Z employees are often hesitant to ask their older peers for a translation because they might be viewed as outsiders. So, in most cases, they pretend to have decoded the meanings. That ignorance can be harmless at times, but not always. Check out eight common corporate phrases that Boomers and Millennial professionals are guilty of using—and what they mean.

Boiling the ocean

Sounds dramatic, right? "Boiling the ocean" is the corporate phrase for accepting an unnecessarily difficult or impossible project. It is commonly identified as a negative comment and is employed to describe a task. The phrase emerges from the literal idea of attempting to boil the ocean—an unachievable feat.

Blue-sky thinking

This professional phrase is used by older employees to refer to a form of innovative brainstorming. It urges people to come up with creative ideas without drawing inspiration from existing ideas or beliefs. Gen Z considers this phrase to be one of the most annoying and unnecessary in the corporate dictionary.

Ducks in a row

When they say, “Get your ducks in a row,” what they are suggesting is that—you must prepare and organise yourself for a challenging project or task. This jargon is frequently used in corporate, but young professionals are not accustomed to its meaning and use.

It's on my radar.

People in power often use this one-liner to suggest that they have something under their observation, but they will take action later, on a subordinate’s request. Their goal is to create an impression that they have considered the underling’s request and will eventually reinforce their relative power. This message can be conveyed more straightforwardly as, "I do understand this matter is vital for you, and I will look at it, and get back to you in a week."

A quick flag

It is probably one of the most frequently misunderstood phrases for Gen Z professionals. If you hear your manager say "a quick flag," you don't have to flash a flag. Instead, what they intended to say is that—either there is a potential issue or they want to raise a concern.

Don't have the bandwidth.

When your older peers use this phrase at work, it is typically in response to a request that refers to something that they perceive to be unimportant. However, for this phrase, it would be safe to say that this corporate jargon is less insulting than following the straightforward approach.

Move the needle

In business language, "moving the needle," refers to finishing tasks that have a perceptible impact or something that could grab people's attention. Gen Z employees often struggle to decipher the meaning of this phrase and would prefer a more direct comment.

Take this offline

This corporate phrase suggests that a person in power wishes to discuss a particular topic in private, away from the earreach of the other attendees in the meeting. If you ever hear a senior peer using this phrase, what they are trying to say is that they want to discuss the matter privately with you. 

Improve your corporate vocabulary with these phrases and use them to feel more included at work. Good Luck!