It could be the end for old-school email sign-offs and corporate formalities, as a new report has revealed that three quarters of workers (71%) believe the younger generation are changing language in the workplace.
While Millennials apparently killed off everything from golf to marmalade, Gen Z have set their sights on prim and proper phrases at work – and they could soon go extinct as a result.
A recent survey from Barclays LifeSkills predicts a number of expressions likely to be lost from offices over the next ten years, with 41% of people saying they think we’ll be seeing the back of ‘yours truly’, 36% speculating the end of ‘yours sincerely’, and 35% giving the death sentence to ‘to whom it may concern’.
Around a third also believe we will soon see the last of ‘with compliments’ (33%) and ‘respects’ (31%) in email communication.
These phrases were judged as outdated and stuffy by respondents, while ‘Thanks!’ and ‘Thanks so much’ were voted as friendly by roughly half of the 2,000 Brits who took part in the research.
There is a fine line between friendliness and overfamiliarity, though.
Signing off emails with ‘Ta!’ would be a step too far for 29% of people, and although 42% see ‘Hiya’ as an approachable greeting, 26% think it crosses a line.
In the last five years – round about the time Gen Z have been of working age – more than two thirds of UK employees have noticed a change in workplace language.
Top five phrases due for retirement in the next 10 years
- Yours truly
- Yours sincerely
- To whom it may concern
- With compliments
Although the same proportion believe this is due to Gen Z, 73% of staff from all age groups claim they’re now more casual in their own communications.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, employees aged between 18-24 are almost twice as likelyto use instant messaging platforms at work compared to over 55s, who appear keen to keep formalities where possible and see email as more professional.
A huge 97% of the younger cohort highlighted a desire to show personality through their workplace exchanges, meaning emojis, GIFs and images are preferred in chats with colleagues.
Kirstie Mackey, Head of Barclays LifeSkills commented: ‘Our research shows that the next generation are clearly going to make their mark on the workforce when it comes to how we communicate.
‘The shift to more personable language is a positive one, however it’s important to demonstrate an understanding of social etiquette in the workplace, which does differ from school or university. Striking the right balance whilst still displaying your personality through your communications is key.’
Additionally, Dr Laura Bailey, Senior Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics at the University of Kent, said: ‘Changing norms in the workplace are reflected in the language younger employees use, and the way communication has changed in general. Email threads and instant messaging platforms have become blended into “conversations” where formal openings and sign-offs might feel out of place.
‘For the older generation, letter-writing etiquette might be drilled in enough that it is instinctive in any written communication. Whereas for Gen Z, social media has driven linguistic change and sped up the spread of language trends.’
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