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24 trending HR buzzwords

HR buzzwords -- such as quiet quitting, ghost jobs and industry hopping -- are all over social media. People are turning to social media to discuss their thoughts on the workplace.

Social media is being filled with HR buzzwords as people are giving names to employment practices and share their stories and feelings about work.

Social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and TikTok, are giving employees platforms to discuss workplace buzzwords, get others' opinions and share their personal thoughts and stories.

While these buzzwords may seem new, several of these practices have been around for years – but, now, with trendy new names. Here are some of those terms.

1. Employee experience

Employee experience, or EX, refers to how employees feel about an organization and how they were treated throughout their employment. The employee experience refers to all touchpoints with the company, including the hiring process, employment and employment exit. It is different than employee engagement, which focuses solely on current employment.

Companies that focus on the employee and provide a positive experience realize many benefits, including the following:

  • more productive employees
  • increased quality of work
  • higher employee retention rates
  • lower absenteeism rates
  • improved customer relations

Learn how to build an effective employee experience strategy.

2. The Great Resignation

The COVID-19 pandemic was a time of change for the way people worked, and millions of people began quitting their jobs in 2021, starting what is now known as the Great Resignation. Forty-eight million people voluntarily left their jobs in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some experts argue that the Great Resignation is still ongoing, with 4.2 million people quitting in August 2022 -- showing little change from previous months. The average of 4 million people quitting each month tops the record set in 2019, which saw an average of 3.5 million.

Reasons people quit their jobs, according to a Pew Research survey, included the following:

  • job insecurity
  • higher pay
  • better work-life balance
  • no opportunities for advancement
  • new career path
  • child or elderly relative care
  • not enough flexibility
  • relocation
  • feeling disrespected at work
  • number of hours
  • lack of benefits

3. Quiet quitting

Quiet quitting refers to doing the bare minimum to get the job done and setting clear boundaries to establish work-life balance. This means that employees are still doing what is required of them but are rejecting hustle culture to stand out with their superiors. There is a clear separation of work and personal lives.

Quiet quitting may also be a sign that an employee is not happy or burned out. It was featured in a TikTok video and gained popularity, causing debate about whether it meant an employee was feeling burned out or looking for healthy boundaries.

4. Quiet firing

Quiet firing -- like quiet quitting -- also addresses the employee-employer relationship but looks at the management side. Instead of directly firing a person, quiet firing refers to treating an employee so poorly or disengaging them to the point where they quit on their own.

Examples of how management can quiet fire an employee include the following:

  • little or no salary increase
  • micromanaging
  • lack of respect
  • leaving employee out of meetings
  • singling employee out to answer tough questions in meetings
  • reduced hours
  • little time off
  • reduced hours without explanation
  • increased workload without increased pay
  • leaving out of social gatherings
  • keeping the employee out of the loop
  • low pay

A manager may quiet fire an employee by giving them the worst tasks and criticizing small mistakes. Quiet firing is a method of getting rid of an employee that a manager may not care for without the possibility of lawsuits, as firing requires documentation leading to the termination. If an employee quits on their own, the manager would not have to fill out this documentation.

5. Quick quitting

As U.S. workers get comfortable leaving their jobs, quick quitting has gained popularity with people leaving their jobs after working there for less than a year. People are feeling more comfortable finding a new job if they are unhappy versus sticking it out for a longer period. People are quitting for better pay and work-life balance, so they keep looking for better opportunities.

Quick quitting has increased over the past couple of years, according to LinkedIn's Workforce Insights.

6. Anti-perks

Anti-perks are benefits that employees don't care about because they feel they could harm productivity or their well-being. The term gained popularity when developer relations advocate Jessica Rose sent out a tweet asking about anti-perks in tech jobs. She said these perks may sound good but are a no from employees.

Some examples of anti-perks may be the following:

  • free dinner
  • catered lunches
  • massages
  • nap rooms
  • video games
  • unlimited vacation
  • fitness rooms
  • pet-friendly offices
  • mandatory fun events
  • alcohol

Employees are diverse. Some may enjoy these benefits, but others say they want bigger benefits, such as better pay, positive work culture and respect. Unlimited vacation may seem nice, but some employees say that it gets companies off the hook from paying unused vacation time when an employee leaves.

7. Digital nomad

With more remote work options, people are moving from place to place, living in a nomadic way. Digital nomads can work anywhere with internet availability, including the following:

  • libraries
  • hotels
  • temporary housing
  • cafes
  • coworking spaces
  • recreational vehicles

Some digital nomads may only do this temporarily, but others may take more time to travel between countries. Some countries are even advertising digital nomad visas to encourage people to live in their country temporarily and work. These visas allow them to receive foreign income for long periods.

Some of these countries and territories offering nomad visas are the following:

  • Anguilla
  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • Cayman Islands
  • Croatia
  • Costa Rica
  • Curaçao
  • Dominica
  • Estonia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Iceland
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Taiwan

Learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of remote work.

8. Industry hopping

Industry hopping involves more than switching jobs; it involves moving sectors. Forty-eight percent of people quitting their jobs in the past few years found jobs in different sectors, according to a McKinsey survey. The same survey found people are also looking for higher-paying careers with more flexibility.

There are many affordable educational opportunities to help people switch industries, such as boot camp coding courses, online classes and certifications.

Learn whether a degree or certification is right for you here.

9. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is how a person understands, perceives, uses, handles and manages their emotions. People with higher emotional intelligence recognize their emotions and use tactics -- such as taking time to slow down, performing self-care and stepping away from the situation -- to guide their behavior.

The five components of emotional intelligence are the following:

  1. self-regulation
  2. self-awareness
  3. social skills
  4. empathy
  5. motivation

Employers often test emotional intelligence to ensure employees can handle stressful situations in leadership.

10. Skills gap

The difference between the skills employers want in a candidate and the experience the candidate has is called the skills gap. Work is constantly changing due to emerging technologies, such as machine learning, AI and automation, which change the skills employers need. Because of this, there is now a skills gap.

Eighty-seven percent of companies worldwide said they are already facing a skills gap or will in the near future, according to a survey from McKinsey. To manage this skills gaps, companies are reskilling and training existing employees, shifting workers to new roles, hiring freelancers or contractors, hiring talent and acquiring other firms.

11. Soft skills

Soft skills are not tied to one specific job and are interpersonal skills to help people work with others. Soft skills help employees fit into the workplace and include aspects such as the following:

  • attitude
  • flexibility
  • motivation
  • personality
  • manners
  • communication
  • time management
  • problem-solving
  • teamwork
  • leadership

Soft skills are typically the reasons employers promote or keep employees because technical skills -- or hard skills -- can be taught and are easier to learn. Hard skills are specific to the job, such as understanding coding for a developer, while soft skills apply to all jobs, such as problem-solving.

Learn six DevOps soft skills and how they drive success.

12. Ghost jobs

Ghost jobs are postings that companies have no intention of filling in the near future. These postings may stay online after someone is already hired for a position, may be posted early for a position in the future or the job may not exist at all.

Companies do this to gauge the talent pool, and ghost jobs are a way of looking for talent. Recruiters may also use ghost jobs to keep resumes of qualified candidates so they have contacts if an employee leaves or a new position opens.

13. Hustle culture

Hustle culture refers to the mentality that employees must work more than normal hours to advance their careers. The term hustle means to push someone to move faster and aggressively, according to Oxford Learner’s Dictionary. Hustle culture is also called grind or burnout culture.

Hustle culture encourages employees to work longer hours and get work done at a more rapid pace. Employees that buy into this culture may think about work during their time off.

Quiet quitting has been termed as rejecting hustle culture with a better work-life balance by setting boundaries with work.

14. Labor hoarding

Labor hoarding describes when companies keep employees during tough economic times – such as a recession-- instead of laying them off because they feel it will save money in the long term. Layoffs may subside some costs in the immediate future, but when the economy recovers, companies spend large amounts of money on recruiting, rehiring and training staff. Labor hoarding allows companies to avoid these additional costs.

The pandemic changed the way companies think about layoffs, according to a survey by Employ and Jobvite. Companies are more reluctant to let employees go after being shorthanded during the pandemic and during the Great Recession.

15. Gaslighting

Merriam-Webster named gaslighting as the word of the year for 2022. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation to mislead someone. The gaslighter forces a person to question their own version of events, causing self-doubt. Typically, gaslighting happens over an extended period and the victim questions their own thoughts, becomes confused and loses confidence. Gaslighting can lead to emotional and mental instability, and the victim may become dependent on their gaslighter.

The term came from the 1938 play called Gaslight, where a protagonist husband convinces his wife she is going crazy even though she isn’t. For example, the husband tells his wife that she is imagining the dimming of the gas light in their home.

Fake news, trolls, conspiracy theories and deep fakes can be considered forms of gaslighting and are common in today’s news cycle.

Gaslighting can happen in the workplace. Signs of gaslighting include:

  • Hearing persistent negative accounts of performance
  • Questioning perception of reality in the workplace
  • Hearing negative gossip
  • Pointing to mistakes that are not true
  • Being told something wasn’t said when it was
  • Being criticized publicly but hearing praise in private
  • Feeling belittled about emotions, perceptions and efforts
  • Excluding someone from meetings or events related to their job

16. Side gig or side hustle

A side gig -- or side hustle -- is a job that a person works in addition to their primary job to provide supplemental income. Sometimes referred to as moonlighting, a side gig can be full-time, part-time or freelance work. Around 45% of Americans have a side hustle, according to a survey from Self, and 30% of people with side gigs say they need the extra income to cover expenses.

Side gigs grew in popularity when the cost of living increased and wages did not keep up with the rising inflation. With the rise of work flexibility, some people can complete these side jobs from home.

The creator and gig economies enable people to earn money on the side. Some people choose to continue their full-time job until their side gig can grow to cover their needed income. With creator jobs, the person decides on the tasks and compensation. Gig economy jobs are company standardized with set payments, such as Uber or Instacart.

Examples of side gigs include:

  • accounting
  • delivery driving
  • fitness coach
  • freelance writing
  • graphic design
  • photography
  • selling clothes or crafts
  • software development
  • tutoring
  • video blogger
  • web developer

17. Green-collar job

A green-collar job refers to employment in the environmental sector. Green jobs use environmentally friendly policies, designs and technology to improve sustainability and conservation. Job opportunities in the clean energy industry grew twice as fast as the national average -- growing at 46% versus the norm of 27% in the first eight months of 2022, according to Advanced Energy Economy’s report. The passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act will advance the clean energy workforce, the same report states.

Green-collar jobs focus on conserving the environment, decreasing pollution and improving energy efficiency. Types of green-collar jobs include areas such as:

  • agriculture and forestry
  • alternative fuels
  • carbon capture
  • clean electricity
  • conservation
  • energy sourcing
  • engineering
  • environmental science
  • government regulation
  • public transportation
  • recycling
  • research and design
  • solar and wind power
  • waste management

Learn about climate tech vs. clean tech.

18. Quiet hiring

Quieting hiring is a term that describes businesses adding new skills and filling gaps without new full-time employees.

Employers may give current employees new roles or hire short-term help -- such as contractors and freelancers. Moving employees to short-term roles can fill immediate needs and help companies prioritize their business needs. But there can be mixed reactions to this type of hiring. Some people are excited to learn more about a company while others feel they are being spread too thin with more responsibilities for the same pay.

19. Rage-applying

Rage-applying is the act of a person applying to several jobs when fed up with their current role. Rage-applying is a term from TikTok, coined when a user named Redweez (or Red) posted a video saying she applied to 15 jobs because she was unhappy in her role, getting her a significant raise at a new company.

Workers are not afraid to leave their current role for a new job if they are fed up. Nearly 75% of survey respondents from a Lattice Survey study said they were either open to new opportunities or actively looking in the next 6-12 months.

20. Polymath

A polymath is someone with extensive knowledge in various subjects. A polymath is different from a generalist who knows a little bit about various subjects because the polymath has greater knowledge. Another term for polymath is a Renaissance man (or woman).

The term polymath is derived from the Greek root words poly- (meaning many) and manthanein (meaning learn). Some notable polymaths in history include Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Galileo and Thomas Jefferson.

For example, Leonard da Vinci was an amazing artist, mathematician, engineer and inventor. Not only are polymaths knowledgeable on topics, but they also have abundant skills like da Vinci. A modern-day polymath may be athletic and artistic with extensive knowledge of subjects such as history, law, science and literature.

21. Tech shame

Tech shame refers to feeling judged for having technical issues at work. Tech shame can keep employees from engaging in meetings or speaking up when there is a problem. Younger employees are more likely than older employees to experience tech shame according to a recent HP survey of 10,000 office workers worldwide. One in five younger workers felt shame, whereas only one in 25 older workers did.

22. Rolling recession

In a typical recession, organizations reduce their workforce and consumers slow down spending, which causes the economy to shrink. In a soft-landing recession, the economy slows down to a steady pace with limited labor market cuts while waiting for inflation to decrease.

In 2022 and 2023, news about a recession was met with some contradicting statistics. As of February 2023, the U.S. unemployment rate of 3.4% is at its lowest since May 1969, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Economists are using the term rolling recession to describe economic conditions. A rolling recession does not involve one large job layoff across industries, but instead when sectors take turns making cuts. In late 2022 and early 2023, tech layoffs dominated news cycles with big tech companies laying off thousands of employees. However, other employment sectors remained strong.

23. Quiet thriving

Quiet thriving is an alternative to the term quiet quitting. With quiet quitting, people do the bare minimum of their jobs to get by. With quiet thriving, people make changes to their workday to shift their mentality to feel more engaged.

Instead of focusing on negative aspects of their jobs, people turn to the positive and make notes of what they enjoy. Ways to quiet thrive in a job include:

  • Craft the job with management to do more likable tasks.
  • Join a committee or group to feel connected.
  • Make friends with coworkers.
  • Create an accomplishment list and keep adding to it.
  • Get advice from a career expert or mentor.
  • Set clear boundaries with work by setting firm deadlines.

24. The Great Regret

The Great Resignation has led to a new trending term – the Great Regret or Great Remorse. During the Great Resignation, 50.5 million people quit their jobs in 2022 and 47.8 million in 2021 for better pay, work environment and work-life balance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a recent study of people who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation shows that one in four people now regrets it, according to Joblist.

The same study also found 42% of respondents said their new job is not meeting expectations, and 40% also stated that finding a new job was harder than they expected.

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