How defining common workplace lingo can create a better future

Samantha Cartaino (she/her)

Senior Content Producer

Have you ever gotten completely lost in a meeting when someone brought up a phrase that you didn’t know?

Maybe you were listening in on an earnings call and the CFO brought up “EBITDA.” With a shrug, you google it. Then you feel unprofessional because you feel like you probably should have known what that means. And when you tune back into the call, you're lost, plus they just said, "gap" but spelled it G-A-A-P. Back to google. Ultimately, you get trapped in a cycle of trying to define terms instead of hearing any of the actual content.

You shouldn't have to get trapped in a jargon google-loop just to understand the state of your organization's finances.

(Editor's note: EBITDA means "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization" and GAAP means "generally accepted accounting principles.")

Jargon doesn't add clarity; it only complicates

Maybe that scenario is a little personal to me, but I know I’m not the only person who’s been confused and sidetracked by corporate lingo.

It’s a proven fact that employees have different understandings of the terminology used in the workplace. This spans across experience levels, departments, and entire companies.

For example, an employee that’s new to your workforce will not know as much as an experienced employee. Different departments sometimes have different terms for projects and tasks, too. And to make things more complicated (because who doesn't love added complications?) entire companies sometimes have their own internal terminology that new employees have to learn as quickly as possible to be productive.

If employees don’t understand certain words or phrases, they might not understand the company’s overall strategy. And if they don’t understand the strategy, they might not understand the business at all.

Introducing The Glossary, a new series from Cornerstone Originals

There is a solution to these issues: The Glossary.

This new Cornerstone Original Learning series defines and contextualizes words and phrases you may hear in work conversations but might not fully understand. Each lesson is:

  • Less than 60-seconds long
  • Leveraging memorable animated icons
  • Providing clean visual definitions
  • Easy to rewatch for a memory refresh

The first 40 courses in this series cover words and phrases associated with finance, technology, sustainability and the executive c-suite with more to come in future releases.

  • 13 courses are devoted to words associated with an earnings call, like “ARR,” “cash flow” and, of course, “EBITDA.”
  • 10 are focused on words related to technology, like “machine learning,” “cloud computing” and “monolith.”
  • Seven deal with words that have to do with sustainability like “triple bottom line” and “linear economy.”
  • 10 courses cover c-suite positions such as “CEO,” “CFO,” and “CMO.”

"I wish I had this when I was a young professional."

Each course was reviewed by subject matter experts and members of Cornerstone’s executive leadership team. And these topics were chosen because they’re some of the most common words and phrases heard at work no matter what department you’re in.

Cornerstone Studios Vice President of Content Product Summer Salomonsen (who also hosts the amazing new season of HR Labs) says,

“[The Glosssary] makes it OK for our employees to ask the 'simple' question — OK for them to not know what something is — and OK for all of us to learn and understand new (important!) workplace terms. I wish I had this when I was a young professional.”

Everyone speaking the same language of success

The Glossary aims to bridge the communication gap between employees and employers by providing a shared definition of terms. With everyone on the same page, cross-functional communication can improve and overall productivity can increase.

If every employee understands what these crucial terms mean, they might be able to better understand the company’s overall strategy and work towards that mission.

With The Glossary, the goal isn't to just define terms; the goal is to understand them.

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