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HR Glossary
HR Glossary

Human Resources (HR) Glossary

Terms

Definition

 

360 Survey

An employee feedback program whereby an employee is rated by surveys distributed to his or her co-workers, customers, and managers. HR departments may use this feedback to help develop an individual’s skill or they may integrate it into performance management programs.

 

401(k) Plan:

An employer-sponsored retirement plan that has become an expected benefit and is therefore important in attracting and retaining employees. A 401(k) plan allows employees to defer taxes as they save for retirement by placing before-tax dollars directly into an investment account. Employers also contribute to the plan tax-free, for instance by matching contributions. Some plans enable employees to direct their own investments. These plans can be expensive and complex to manage. It is common for companies to outsource all or part of their plan.

 

Abandonment Rates:

A measurement of the number of job applicants that start but do not finish completing a job application on a company’s ATS (applicant tracking system). When job-seekers start the process and then drop out, that’s a failure for the employer.

 

Absenteeism Policy:

A policy about attendance requirements, scheduled and unscheduled time off, and measures for dealing with workplace absenteeism. Repeated absenteeism can lead to termination.

 
 
 

Administrative Services Only (ASO)

: The hiring of a firm (usually a health care vendor) to handle certain administrative tasks. The firm does not assume any risk but merely carries out the specialized functions that the employer cannot or does not want to do. For example, an employer funds its own dental insurance claim payments but pays the ASO firm to process the claims.

 

Accessibility:

The extent to which a contractor’s or employer’s facility is readily approachable and does not inhibit the mobility of individuals with disabilities, particularly such areas as the personnel office, worksite and public areas.

 

Affirmative Action

: Proactive policies aimed at increasing the employment opportunities of certain groups (typically, minority men and/or women of all racial groups). Title 5, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that affirmative action be taken in employment of persons with disabilities by Federal contractors. Affirmative action was designed to rectify past discrimination but has been controversial since its inception.

 

Affirmative Action Plan (AAP):

A written set of specific, results-oriented procedures to be followed. Intended to remedy the effects of past discrimination against or underutilization of women and minorities. The effectiveness of the plan is measured by the results it actually achieves rather than by the results intended and by the good faith efforts undertaken.

 

Ageism:

Prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. It is against the law to discriminate against anyone in the workplace because of their actual or assumed age.

 

Agent (Insurance):

An employee who sells the products owned by the company, in contrast to a broker, who sells the insurance products of several companies. See Broker.

 

Agile Organization:

Also known as agile manufacturing, this is a term applied to an organization that has created the processes, tools, and training to enable it to respond quickly to customer needs and market changes while still controlling costs and quality.

 

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR):

An informal process to resolve disputes. Involved parties meet with a trained third party who assists in resolving the problem by arbitration, mediation, judicial settlement conferences, conciliation or other methods. Though usually voluntary, ADR is sometimes mandated by a judge as a first step before going to court.

 

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA):

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is part of a federal law that prohibits discrimination against someone with a disability, defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” Disability is decided on a case-by-case basis and does not include conditions such as substance abuse. This law applies to the whole employment cycle, from application through advancement and termination.

 

Artificial Intelligence:

The branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave like humans. Artificial intelligence is much feted but its talents boil down to a superhuman ability to spot patterns in large volumes of data. In an HR setting artificial intelligence may be helpful to remove biases in decision making.

 

Application Service Provider (ASP):

Other common terms are SaaS (software as a service), on-demand or Web-based services. A business that provides computer-based services to customers over a network, as opposed to installing the software on a company server (hosted). This is a cost-effective solution for small and medium-sized businesses, who may find it hard to keep up with the increasing costs of specialized software, distribution and upgrades. Smaller, periodic payments replace one-time lump sum pricing. The ASP can be accessed from any location via the Internet. HRmarketer.com is an example.

 

Applicant Tracking System (ATS):

A software application that began as a way to electronically handle recruitment needs but has since expanded to the entire employment life cycle. Onboarding, training and succession planning capabilities now exist, for example. An ATS can be implemented on an enterprise level or small business level, depending on the size and needs of the company. Applicant Tracking Systems may also be referred to as Talent Management Systems. An ATS saves time and increases efficiency and compliance for those tasked with managing human capital.

 

Attrition:

A gradual voluntary reduction of employees (through resignation and retirement) who are not then replaced, decreasing the size of the workforce.

 

Background Screening / Pre-employment Screening:

Testing to ensure that employers are hiring qualified and honest employees and that a prospective employee is capable of performing the functions required by the job. The screening can involve criminal background checks, verification of Social Security numbers, past addresses, age or year of birth, corporate affiliations, bankruptcies, liens, drug screening, skills assessment and behavioral assessments. If an employer outsources pre-employment screening, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that there must be a consent and disclosure form separate from an employment application.

 

Base Wage Rate (or base rate):

The monthly salary or hourly wage paid for a job, irrespective of benefits, bonuses or overtime.

 

Balanced Scorecard:

A strategic planning and management system that is used to tie business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor performance against goals. Developed in the early 1990’s by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton, the balanced scorecard measure four areas of business: internal business processes, financial performance, customer knowledge, and learning and growth.

 

Ban the Box:

Refers to the box to be checked on a job application asking if an applicant has a criminal record. Depending on legislation, which varies by jurisdiction, employers may need to remove questions about criminal history from the initial job application.

 

Benchmark Job:

A job commonly found in the workforce for which pay and other relevant data are readily available. Benchmark jobs are used to make pay comparisons and job evaluations.

 

Benchmarking:

A technique using specific standards to make comparisons between different organizations or different segments of the organizations, with the intent of improving a product or service.

 

Benefits Administration:

Software that helps companies manage and track employee participation in benefits programs such as healthcare, flexible spending accounts, pension plans, etc. This software helps automate and streamline the complex and otherwise time-consuming tasks of benefits administration.

 

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS):

An appraisal that requires raters to list important dimensions of a particular job and collect information regarding the critical behaviors that distinguishes between successful and unsuccessful performance. These critical behaviors are then categorized and appointed a numerical value used as the basis for rating performance.

 

Behavioral-Based Interview:

An interview technique used to determine whether a candidate is qualified for a position based on their past behavior. The interviewer asks the candidate for specific examples from past work experience when certain behaviors were exhibited.

 

Behavioral Competency:

The behavior qualities and character traits of a person. These act as markers that can predict how successful a person will be at the position he/she is applying for. Employers should determine in advance what behavioral competencies fit the position and create interview questions to find out if the candidate possesses them.

 

Behavioral Risk Management:

The process of analyzing and identifying workplace behavioral issues and implementing programs, policies or services most suitable for correcting or eliminating various employee behavioral problems.

 

Benefits (benefits package):

Benefits are a form of compensation paid by employers to employees over and above the amount of pay specified as a base salary or hourly rate of pay. Benefits are a portion of a total compensation package for employees.

 

Bereavement Leave:

Paid or unpaid time off following the death of an employee’s relative or friend. This time, generally ranging from one to three days, is given so that the employee can make arrangements, attend the funeral and attend to other matters related to the deceased. Many organizations are flexible in terms of how much time an employee takes off.

 

Big Data:

The process of analyzing very large, often independent, data sets to reveal patterns, trends, and associations – especially relating to human behavior and interactions. This in turn can help employers with data driven decision-making..

 

Blended workforce:

A workforce is comprised of permanent full-time, part-time, temporary employees and independent contractors.

 

Blind Engagement:

A term coined by HRmarketer founder Mark Willaman, refers to the automation of communications on social media. Social marketing software has made it easy for brands to share content and engage on social. The unintended side effect is the over reliance of social automation including automating thank you’s, shares and even follows – all examples of blind engagement which have the potential to hurt brand reputation.

 

Branding:

Promoting a product or service by identifying and then marketing its key differentiators from competitors. The differentiator/s often inspire the name, phrase or logo for which the product or service becomes known.

 

Broadbanding:

: A pay structure that exchanges a large number of narrow salary ranges for a smaller number of broader salary ranges. This type of pay structure encourages the development of broad employee skills and growth while reducing the opportunity for promotion.

 

Broker:

An individual who acts as an agent for a buyer and a seller and charges a commission for his/her services. An example of a large brokerage firm is Marsh. An example of a state firm is ABD in California.

 

Bullying (workplace bullying):

According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute workplace bullying is “repeated, health-harming mistreatment, verbal abuse, or conduct which is threatening, humiliating, intimidating, or sabotage that interferes with work, or some combination of the three.”

 

Bumping:

Giving long-standing employees whose positions are to be eliminated the option of taking other positions within the company that they are qualified for and that are currently held by employees with less seniority.

 

Business continuity planning

Broadly defined as a management process that seeks to identify potential threats and impacts to the organization, and provide a strategic and operational framework for ensuring the organization is able to withstand any disruption, interruption, or loss to normal business functions or operation.

 

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO):

The managing of an organizations business applications by a technology vendor.

 

Buzz Marketing:

A viral marketing technique that attempts to make each encounter with a “prospect” appear to be a personal, spontaneous interaction instead of an obvious marketing pitch. For example, the advertiser reveals information about their new product to a few opinion leaders within their target audience. In theory, these opinion leaders then talk about your product with their peers, thus beginning a word-of-mouth campaign where other buyers are flattered to be included in the group of those “in the know”. A typical buzz marketing campaigns is initiated in chat rooms, where marketing representatives assume an identity appropriate to their target audience and pitch their product. Blogs are another popular media for buzz marketing.

 

BYOD (bring your own device):

A term used to describe the growing trend of employees-owned devices within a business such as smartphones tablets, laptops and other devices. Many employers have policies that govern the use of employee-owned devices in the workplace.

 

Cafeteria Plan:

A plan in which an employer offers employees a variety of different benefits. The employee is able to choose which benefits would fit their individual needs. Examples of benefits offered in the cafeteria include group-term life insurance, dental insurance, disability and accident insurance, and reimbursement of healthcare expenses.

 

Candidate Experience:

A job seeker’s feelings about an organization’s job application process. Applicant attitudes and behaviors are important for a number of reasons and can impact abandonment rates (the number of people that start but do not finish completing a job application on the company’s applicant tracking system) and employer branding attitudes (an organization’s reputation as an employer).

 

Candidate Relationship Marketing (CRM):

software that helps recruiters manage and communicate with large number of job candidates (organize, automate, synchronize job candidate attraction). While an Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) serves applicants, CRM software serves job seekers and candidates. The term CRM is derived from Customer Relationship Management (CRM), software that helps marketing and sales departments manage and automate customer and prospect data, interactions, etc.

 

CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act):

Congressional legislation that regulates commercial emails (i.e. commercial advertisement or promotion) and sets clearly defined opt-out standards. Any billing, warranties, product updates or customer service information is not included in this act. E-mail newsletters that are not considered advertisements are also exempt.

 

Capitated Pricing:

Vendors deliver contracted services for a set amount of money per employee per month. This can be a risky strategy for vendors whose profitability is directly tied to how much the services are or are not used (e.g., EAPs).

 

Career Pathing:

The process whereby an employee charts a course within an organization for his or her career path, growth and development.

 

Carrier:

A vendor in the employee benefits space. More commonly used in reference to health care. Carriers (e.g., Met Life, Blue Cross, Aetna, etc.) sell their products through Brokers & Consultants, but may also sell to an employer directly.

 

Carve-Out:

The elimination of coverage of a specific category of benefit services (e.g. vision care, mental health/psychological services, or prescription drugs). The employer opts out of certain services with one vendor and contracts another to deliver them.

 

Casual Employment:

The practice of hiring employees on an as-needed basis, either as a replacement for permanent full-time employees who are out on short and long-term absences or to meet employer’s additional staffing needs during peak business periods.

 

Change Management:

A deliberate approach for transitioning individuals or organizations from one state to another in order to manage and monitor the change. Change management can be conducted on a continuous basis, on a regular schedule (such as an annual review), or when deemed necessary on a program-by-program basis.

 

Coaching:

A method of training an individual or group in order to develop skills or overcome a performance problem. Coaching can be between a manager and a subordinate or an outside professional coach and one or more individuals. There are many coaching methods and models, but close observation, accountability and feedback on progress and performance are usually included.

 

Cloud Computing:

Storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.

 

COBRA:

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. 1985 Federal law that requires employers to offer continued health insurance coverage to terminated employees and their beneficiaries. The coverage may continue for the following cases: termination of employment, change in working hours, change in dependent status or age limitation, separation, divorce, or death.

 

Co-Employment:

The relationship between a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), or employee leasing firm and an employer, based on a contractual sharing of liability and responsibility for employees.

 

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