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Readers Respond: See the HR Jargon Employees Love to Hate...

Responses: 19


From the article: Glossary Introduction

If you're in Human Resources or speak with HR staff, you know that HR has specific terminology, a jargon all their own. Some of the HR jargon is employment law related; some is meant to sooth upset employees. Some words are exchanged to communicate with fellow practitioners; sometimes HR uses euphemisms when the truth sounds cold and scary. Do you have a love-hate, or maybe just hate, relationship with HR jargon and euphemisms? I do. In fact, I have a mostly hate relationship with HR language, in general. One of my favorites, how would you like to be downsized, right sized, or made redundant? Yuck. See the HR jargon employees love to hate.

Share your favorite examples of HR jargon. Whether euphemisms, misleading statements, CYA wording, or just plain, not-understandable-to-mortal-ears HR jargon, what are your faves? What words do you love to hate?

See More Reader Responses to various other questions.

Share Your Examples

Position no longer available

Don't return from medical leave and be informed by your employer that you are being offered on call because your position is no longer available. That means they are not calling you, so take termination.
—Guest Bridgette

HR Problems

What HR nevers tells the applicant is that they are not hiring anyone who is not employed. They then tell management that there are no qualified candidates available. Also, they usually have no idea of what experience to look for since they also usually don't have a clue about the business the company is in and so only pass on candidates that can pass the tree question or something else as ridiculous. What is the tree question? If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why? Yes, I have been asked that and no, I don't have a clue what the correct answer(s) is/are.
—Guest Fred Friendley

HR Student

You're being indefinitely laid off, no we're not downsizing, yes you can draw unemployment but you won't be called back here.
—Guest Linda Spalding

Words / Phrases We Love to Hate

"grow at negative numbers" (isn't that shrinking?), Over-arching, hard-stop, cascade, "manage someone out of the business", pivot, war for talent, best-in-class, ...so many more

On behalf of management

When they fired you, they told you that they did it on behalf of management. When they promoted you, they told you that it was their proposal to management.

Better things to come...

Whenever you do not get a promotion, they always tell you that better things are awaiting you...
—Guest Cobus


I've heard this one used in my husband's work and at a friend's. The reason they (the employer) won't promote them is that both of them are "too valuable to grow."
—Guest Tamara

Lettting go

We're having to let you go - as if he / she had been straining at the leash...
—Guest Kapil

HR Titles

When everything goes right for the employee, HR is called a mentor and when HR acts tough, he is called a tormentor.

Hr Jargon words

HR should have a very good communication with others and think about how their terms used won't irritate others' feelings...
—Guest mahani


We went through a phase of saying that someone "has redefined his relationship with the company and is no longer in (insert position name)..."
—Guest Jim

It's a telephone, not a hug!

I hate when people use "reach out to" instead of "call". Where did this corny phrase come from?
—Guest Shelli


I had an employee ask me if we could incentivize the other employees to participate in his pet project. I told him that if you had to incentivize the employees, they didn't want to do it, or they would do it for the wrong reasons.
—Guest Guest Marilyn

Quality Jargon

When I worked in quality and continuous improvement, we always went after the "quick wins" and the "low hanging fruit." Do other departments do this, too?
—Guest Bob Kelly

See the HR Jargon Employees Love to Hate

Remember, we are eliminating positions, not people.
—Guest Rachel

Share Your Examples

See the HR Jargon Employees Love to Hate...

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