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Corporate Talk is Trending on TikTok as Gen Zs Enter the Workplace; Here's What it Means

This trend has emerged as a response to the significant changes in how we communicate at work since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image Source: Photo by fauxels | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by fauxels | Pexels

As they navigate diverse work environments where communication with people across all age groups becomes essential, Gen Zs need to update their vocabulary to interact with millennials and older generations in corporate settings. Hence they are now seeking guidance on TikTok from experts who specialize in using formal language at work, often referred to as Corporate Talk. They want to help to upgrade everyday Gen Z lingo with a vocabulary that sounds more professional, especially when dealing with team conflicts. This trend has emerged as a response to the significant changes in how we communicate at work since the COVID-19 pandemic. With the rise of remote work, many of us now use messaging platforms like Slack instead of traditional email. This shift has also led to a change in how we end our messages with emojis and office slang replacing the more formal 'yours sincerely' sign-offs. Hence, the younger generation is struggling to express themselves in a way that is both polite and professional when it comes to setting boundaries or addressing conflicts in the workplace.

Image Source: Photo by Helena Lopes | Pexels
Young employees in a casual meeting | Pexels/Helena Lopes

When someone enters the workforce, they're often greeted with a daunting set of business phrases, from 'it’s lovely to e-meet you' to 'circling back round' and 'close of play.' This collection of idioms, phrases, and abbreviations is now being called Corporate Talk, which can both confuse and amuse employees.  While some of these expressions have been around for years, the pandemic years have brought a surge in new phrases and acronyms related to emerging workplace trends like work-from-home (WFH) and desk sharing (hotdesking).

Many employees are turning to the HR experts of TikTok, seeking guidance on how to navigate unfamiliar or tricky interactions at work. Common searches on the app include phrases like 'how do you professionally say' and 'how to corporate speak' as employees rely on their favorite workplace influencers for advice. A significant portion of Corporate Talk tutorials on social media focuses on helping young people learn conflict resolution techniques, which are often challenging situations that can have a lasting negative impact on working relationships.

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This trend is particularly beneficial for those new to the office environment, empowering younger workers to take more control over their performance management. Through this trend, they're learning how to handle situations that may arise during the recruitment process, such as negotiating a salary hike or discussing probation targets.

The Corporate Talk trend highlights the struggle of Gen Z employees trying to fit into a changing workplace culture. Young workers, especially those in entry-level roles, often experience imposter syndrome or anxiety. The latest generation is entering the workforce amid post-Covid upheaval, where remote work has shifted business communication online. According to EduBirdie's recent survey, 55% of Gen Z feel unprepared for workplace issues, and 40% feel less mature than their peers or parents at the same age. This anxiety is justified as a survey of UK bosses found that 7 in 10 senior leaders believe today's graduates lack crucial soft skills like leadership and time management.

Image Source: Photo by Christina Morillo | Pexels
Employees attend a boardroom meeting | Pexels/Christina Morillo 

Corporate language, using tactics like negotiation and persuasion, aims to build positive working relationships. Tutors in this field help young people adapt to the workplace by translating passive aggression into professional phrases. However, some argue that relying on esoteric and outdated work language may cause alienation.

A survey of 2,000 UK employees found that 12% believe acronyms can lead to workplace exclusion. Gen Zers are 10% more likely to be unfamiliar with business shorthand compared to older millennials.

This year saw an increase in office slang accompanying the presence of Gen Z in the workplace. Many young people are fluent in social media-inspired terms like "work goals" for expressing career ambitions. For some millennials and older individuals, Gen Z's informal approach at work may be confusing. The use of text speech from platforms like Slack and Discord has led to conflicts in some cases. In a recent survey by, 74% of managers and leaders found Gen Z more challenging to work with than any other generation. Some mentioned a perceived lack of interpersonal skills for face-to-face interactions, hindering relationship-building with colleagues and clients.

Image Source: Photo by Pixabay | Pexels
In a meeting | Pexels/Pixabay 

In work, friendships, and romance, relationship breakdowns often boil down to one core issue: poor communication. In today's diverse and globalized business world, companies must create inclusive workplaces to prevent poor employee engagement and disconnection. Bridging the generational gap in communication styles is key. People have different ways of communicating, influenced by age, personality, or biology.

They are either assertive and prefer getting straight to the point or subtle and diplomatic to avoid conflict. Apart from that some are logical and methodical, as they seek all facts before deciding, and then there are the emotional and warm communicators who foster connections.

Embracing diverse styles reduces conflict and enhances collaboration. Managers should know their communication style to navigate potential misunderstandings. Encouraging inclusive communication involves using various messaging channels and promoting open, transparent communication.