The generation of zoomers – people born in 1997-2010 – is making its own adjustments to the work process, changing requirements for payment, schedule or uniform, and now office language.
According to research by Barclays LifeSkills (a Barclays Bank initiative aimed at helping young people learn work skills), 70% of UK workers surveyed have noticed changes in so-called “office language”, which has become more formal over the past 5 years, and 71% believe that these changes were brought about by the younger generation of buzzers. Another 73% said their communication style at work had become more relaxed.
To a large extent, this is reflected in work correspondence – phrases such as “with respect”, “sincerely yours”, to whom it may concern (a common English greeting in letters where the author addresses a message to an unknown reader) and others come out out of fashion and will likely fall out of use within the next decade.
More than a third of workers surveyed consider the words “sincerely yours” and “respectfully” old-fashioned, while almost half consider “thank you” and “thank you very much” to be friendly – like proper and slang “ta” (for “thank you”/thanks) and “ hiya” (as in “hello”). Although some noted the last two words as a transition to familiarity.
“Changing norms in the workplace are reflected in the language young workers use and the way they communicate in general. Email threads and instant messaging platforms have become mixed with conversations where formal introductions and signatures may seem out of place,” Dr Laura Bailey, senior lecturer at the University of Kent, said in the study.
Bailey says that for older generations, email etiquette can be so “practised” that it instinctively carries over into any written communication, while Zoomers have meanwhile accelerated the transition of social media language into everyday office life. They pick up and use TikTok slang words like “ick” (a cry of disgust) or “naur” (a popular Gen Z variant of “no”) at work, much to the dismay of HR professionals and senior employees. .