Beware of the Business Buzzwords!

The world has seen a rash of work-related buzzwords in recent years, as people took to social media – particularly in the wake of Covid-19 – to share their stories and opinions about the daily grind.

Some of these buzzwords have captured our changing times with razor-sharp precision.  For example, The Great Resignation summed up the trend of people leaving their jobs, after the pandemic shone a light on significant issues like work-life balance.

Meanwhile, other buzzwords go viral.  Quiet quitting, which refers to the employee practice of doing the bare minimum to get the job done, began life in a TikTok video.  Anti-perks, which refer to “benefits that employees don’t care about because they feel they could harm productivity or their well-being”, began as a simple tweet from a developer relations advocate.

More recently, a brand-new buzzword was revealed at this year’s World Economic Forum at Davos.  Hailed as “the secret to management in a fragmented world”, the word is “mattering”.

Why does mattering matter?

Fuelled by research that says employees with the best well-being had 56% fewer missed days and 25% higher productivity – not to mention 34% higher engagement – mattering is all about cultivating a feeling in employees that they are important to the organisation and their colleagues.

As such, managers should be able to “tell a compelling ‘mattering’ story”, as well as sharing their perspective on their “broader visibility into how the business works and what it needs most at any moment.”

Last year, a report in the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment shared details of the authors’ five-point ‘Anti-Mattering Scale’, which assesses “feelings of not mattering to other people”.  According to the researchers, there are links between “elevated AMS scores and levels of depression, social anxiety, and loneliness.”

So, is it time to start booking your company’s line managers on intensive training courses in how to “deliver mattering?”

Business buzzwords can over-complicate simple truths.

In a recent Financial Times article, Jemima Kelly pointed out that “the way to make someone feel valued is to actually value them.  The belief that one’s work and contributions are important to others… can only be earned by taking responsibility, doing valuable work and enjoying the sense of self-worth that comes with it.”

Like most buzzwords, mattering highlights an issue that needs attention.  Many employees feel displaced and adrift in our uncertain post-pandemic age.  There is an ongoing cost of living crisis to contend with, along with lingering social anxiety and news of technological advances, such as AI, which could have the potential to replace some human employees altogether.

A recent People Management article also revealed that over half of employees “feel lonely all or most of the time,” with 28% believing “companies are more anti-social now than pre-pandemic.”

The good news is, managers can make employees feel like they matter simply by listening to them and treating them as the individuals they are.  Encouraging social interaction, along with fostering a culture of trust and openness, means employees will feel more able to talk about the aspects of work that are most important to them, such as career development or flexible working, which can then be properly addressed. 

Managers should also try to be observant of employees who frequently go above and beyond without fanfare.  A recent Forbes article notes that “many leaders and work cultures fail to notice” these employees, and that “company leaders need to practice what employees are advised to do: go the extra mile to identify, recognize and reward.”

Focus on what really matters

In conclusion, while business buzzwords can be useful to help take the temperature of a particular situation or phenomenon, over-complicating them could mean leaders feel too overwhelmed to make vital, simple changes that could have a powerful and lasting effect on their workforce.

If you would like to talk to an experienced consultant at Viridian HR about culture-change and people-strategies – without the buzzwords! – please get in touch.

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