Like every field, HR comes with its own buzzwords. At Stratton, we use as little jargon as possible. But to help you navigate the wider world of HR, we've gathered an HR glossary of the words and phrases that you may come across. If there are any terms or phrases you are still unfamiliar with, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
An appraisal process whereby an individual is rated on their performance by people who know something about their work. This can include direct reports, peers, managers, customers or clients; in fact, anybody who is credible to the individual and is familiar with their work can be included in the feedback process. The individual usually completes a self-assessment exercise on their performance, which is also used in the process.
See also Positive Discrimination. Treating someone more favourably than others on sex, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion or age. This is currently illegal in the UK.
See Performance Planning.
A term used to describe voluntary and involuntary termination of employment contracts and retirements that result in a reduction of total workforce numbers.
A popular strategic management concept developed in the early 1990s by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton. The balanced scorecard is a management tool which enables organisations to clarify their vision and strategy and to measure business performance and progress. It is 'balanced' because it deals with both financial and non-financial information.
An interview technique also called 'competency based interview' which focuses on a candidate's past experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities. Candidates are asked to provide specific examples of when they have demonstrated certain behaviours or skills, and interviewers consider their answers as a means of predicting future behaviour and performance.
The behaviour of the employee that is the subject of measurement and appraisal. Behavioural competency is assessed in terms of whether or not the behaviours shown by an employee are those identified by job analysis/competency profiling as contributors to team and/or organisational success.
A technique using quantitative or qualitative data to make comparisons between different organisations or different sections of the organisations or industries.
A pay structure that consolidates a large number of narrower pay grades into fewer, broad bands with wider salary ranges.
The deliberate effort of an organisation to anticipate change and to manage its introduction, implementation, and consequences to ensure continued organisational effectiveness.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which is the professional body for those involved in the management and development of people.
A one-to-one process which develops a person's skills and knowledge to improve their job performance. It usually lasts for a short period of time and focuses on specific goals. A coach is not necessarily internal to an organisation and does not necessarily have similar work experience to the individual being coached (unlike mentoring). It is a skilled activity which should be delivered by trained people. See also Mentoring.
A behaviour or a skill that is measurable. It describes how you do a job rather than just stating what you do.
A framework of knowledge, skills and attitudes for roles within an organisation which are developed from the organisational mission, vision and values.
Whereby action(s) of the employer constitute breech of contract leaving the employee no choice but to resign. An employee must have worked for more than 12 months to qualify under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Contract For Services
An agreement with an independent contractor.
Contract Of Service
An employment agreement.
The skills, knowledge and attitudes/behaviours which employees must possess in order to successfully perform job functions that are essential to business operations.
The aims and objectives of an organisation.
A business strategy of becoming the lowest-cost producer in its industry.
The removal of entities such as financial markets, road and transport from governmental control.
A procedure carried out in the workplace in the event of an employee committing some act contrary to terms of the employment agreement which includes remedies up to and including dismissal.
Less favourable treatment on grounds of sex, race, gender, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation which cannot be justified on reasonable grounds.
A critical component of mergers and acquisitions, it is a process of investigation which focuses on people strategies and policies. Evaluation is conducted to examine the details of a particular investment or purchase by obtaining sufficient and accurate information or documents which may influence the outcome of the transaction.
Describes the mental ability an individual possesses enabling him/her to be sensitive to and understanding of the emotions of others as well as the ability to manage their own emotions and impulses.
A broad term used to refer to the general management and planning of activities related to developing, maintaining, and improving employee relationships by communicating with employees, processing grievances/disputes, etc. This can also include Trade Union interface.
Organisational policies and practices designed to meet the diverse needs of employees, create an environment that encourages employees to remain employed with the organisation, and prevent losing talented staff.
The process of enabling or authorising an individual to think, behave, take action and contribute to decision-making.
Based on the notion that people are motivated by a desire for fairness whereby they will compare their efforts and reward with that of others in the organisation.
An interview between a manager or HR Manager and a member of staff who has resigned to ascertain the reasons for the employee leaving the organisation. The results of the exit interview are normally fed into retention strategies. Should not be carried out by the employee's immediate superior.
A contract of employment which is not permanent but rather fixed for a specific period of time (eg, a specific date or for the duration of a specific project).
The process of setting and assigning a set of specific, attainable goals to be met by an individual, group or organisation.
Good Faith Bargaining
A duty under the Employment Relations Act 2000 to conduct negotiations where two parties meet and confer at reasonable times with open minds and the intention of reaching an agreement (including trade unions).
A complaint brought by a member of staff against another member (or members) of staff.
The social manner in which people interact with each other within a group.
A serious act of misconduct, such as theft, acts of physical violence, etc, which may lead to instant (or summary) dismissal.
A formal review of HR policies, practices and procedures.
Hierarchy Of Needs
A psychology theory ascribed to Abraham H. Maslow, in which he proposed that people have a hierachy of needs which must be met for motivation and overall satisfaction (physiological, security, esteem of others, self-esteem, and self-actualisation).
The collective knowledge, skills and abilities of an organisation's employees.
Additional compensation used to motivate and to reward employees for exceeding performance or productivity targets.
A person who works for him/herself but has a contract for services with another person/organisation.
Individual employment agreement
The legal relationship between an employee and employer.
The process of introducing a new employee into the organisation. See also Orientation.
The management of the employment relationship between employer and employee (sometimes involving trade unions).
Non-monetary rewards such as praise and recognition, flexibility and career development opportunities.
Developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), it is a set of standards for quality management systems that is accepted around the world. Organisations that conform to these standards can receive ISO 9000 certification. The standard intended for quality management system assessment and registration is ISO 9001. The standards apply uniformly to organisations of any size or description.
The preparation stage for writing job descriptions which includes gathering data (qualitative and quantative) relating to role.
A written description of a job which includes information regarding the general nature of the work to be performed, specific responsibilities and duties, and the employee characteristics required to perform the job (person specification).
Used for compensation planning purposes, it is the process of comparing a job with other jobs of equal value in an organisation to determine appropriate pay rates for the job.
Key Performance Indicators: Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. Tasks that have been agreed between an employee and line manager/HR with an expectation that they will be completed satisfactorily in the time agreed or as an ongoing task.
Knowledge, Skills and Attitude: the personal attributes that a person has to have to perform the job requirements.
Formal and informal training and professional development programmes designed for all management and executive level employees to assist them in developing the leadership skills and styles required to deal with a variety of situations.
Law emanating from Parliament in the form of Acts.
'Last In, First Out' – In the event of a redundancy situation occurring "last in, first out" was once considered the most equitable method of choosing thos who should be made redundant but is now unlawful on the grounds of age discrimination.
Lump Sum Payment
A fixed negotiated payment which is not typically included in an employee's annual salary.
The process of intervention by a specialist from ACAS in an employment dispute. Provided under the Employment Relations Act 2000.
A one-to-one process whereby a more experienced colleague uses their greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff. See also Coaching.
The lowest legal level of earnings for employees set by the Government.
A statement illustrating who the company is, what the company does, and the company's vision for the future.
The reason(s) why a person behaves in a certain way. A person is described as motivated if they are enthusiastic and dedicated in terms of how they undertake their job duties.
An attempt to explain how and why people are motivated in the workplace.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
A psychological test used to assess an individual's personality type.
The process of discussion with a view to mutual settlement.
Unlawful favouritism shown to relatives in the workplace by individuals in a position of authority such as CEOs, managers or supervisors.
The process of observing employees whilst they perform their respective jobs or set tasks with the purpose of collecting data regarding specific jobs or tasks.
Health and Safety
The law relating to the health and safety of personnel at work enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.
A pattern that emerges from the interlocking system of the beliefs, values and behavioural expectations of all the members of an organisation.
The introduction of employees to their jobs, co-workers, and the organisation which provides them with information regarding such items as policies, procedures, company history, goals, culture, and work rules. Similar to Induction.
A contractual agreement between an employer and an external third party provider whereby the employer transfers responsibility and management of certain functions or services to the external provider.
A performance appraisal strategy whereby an employee is reviewed by his/her peers who have sufficient opportunity to examine the individual's job performance.
The process of measuring, evaluating and developing the work performance of employees, in order that organisational objectives are more effectively achieved and understood by employees.
A total approach to managing people and performance which involves setting performance goals for the organisation, departments, and individual employees.
Personal Development Plan
The process of recording your ongoing personal and professional development which includes reflection on past activities and goal setting for the future.
Targeted initiatives for disadvantaged groups (eg, disabled people, women, black and ethnic minorities) which aim to reduce or eliminate discrimination. Examples might be training, the setting of demographic targets, mentoring, or reviewing policies and procedures to ensure they are not discriminating, which is illegal.
Treating someone more favourably than others based on sex, disability, race, sexual orientation, religion or age. This is currently illegal in the UK.
Where the parties to an employment agreement agree as part of the agreement that an employee will serve a set period of probation or trial after the commencement of the employment. See Section 66 Employment Relations Act 2000.
The process or system of ensuring that a product or service should do what the user needs or wants and has a right to expect. There are five dimensions to quality management: design, conformance, availability, safety and field use.
The process of bringing into an organisation personnel who possess the appropriate qualifications, skills, experience and attitude for the post offered.
This term tends to cause confusion because 'making someone redundant' is often used as an euphemisim for saying an employee is being dismissed for some reason other than redundancy.
Redundancy occurs when either there has been or is going to be:
- the closure of the business, or
- the closure of the workplace, or
- a diminished need for employees
If, and only if, one of these situations has arisen will the redundancy be a genuine one.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974)
This legislation means that certain offences can become ‘spent', meaning that the individual does not have to declare the conviction - effectively the slate is wiped clean. Certain convictions can never become spent. It is illegal to fail to declare an unspent conviction to an employer. Criminal records can be gathered by an employer for certain posts identified by the Act (eg, jobs which involve working with children or vulnerable adults) via a Criminal Records Check undertaken by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) whereby all convictions (spent and unspent) will be declared.
Return On Investment (ROI)
A measure of the benefit or profit derived from a specific investment compared to the cost of the investment itself.
Right To Manage
The ‘right' of management to make decisions and to run an organisation without interference from external or internal forces.
The use of insurance and other strategies in an effort to minimise an organisation's exposure to liability in the event a loss or injury occurs.
The process of aligning human resources more closely to the strategic and operating objectives of the organisation.
The process of identifying an organisation's long-term goals and objectives and then determining the best approach for achieving those goals and objectives.
Identifying potential candidates to replace core individual employees either known to be leaving the firm at some point in the future and/or whose sudden departure would pose a risk to the operation of the firm.
The act of dismissing personnel immediately, usually because the person has committed an act of Gross Misconduct.
When an employee is sent home without pay for a specified period of time whilst a disciplinary investigation is being carried out.
Talent Management, often referred to as Human Capital Management, is the process of recruiting, managing, assessing, developing and retaining an organisation's most important resource: its people.
Rewards which can be physically touched or held (ie, a gift certificate or gifts in the form of merchandise).
The complete pay package awarded to employees on an annual basis, including all forms of compensation and benefits.
Training and Development
A process dealing primarily with developing knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to carry out a specific activity or task that links into organisational effectiveness.
Training Needs Analysis
A method of analysing how employee skill deficits can be addressed through current or future training and professional development programme, as well as determining the types of training/development programmes required, and how to prioritise training/development.
Describes changes in the work force resulting from voluntary or involuntary resignations.
The act of terminating an employee's employment for unlawful reasons as identified by the Employment Rights Act (1996).
An inspirational statement describing where an organisation wants to be.
Depicts pay rates currently being paid for each job within a pay grade in relation with the rankings awarded to each job during the job evaluation process.
The gap between the Collective Agreement rate and the rate actually paid. Evidence of geographical variations in wage levels.
Occurs when individuals have a measure of control over when, where and how they work, allowing them to enjoy an optimal quality of life. Work-life balance is achieved when an individual's right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected, to the mutual benefit of the individual, the organisation and society as a whole. Good work-life balance promotes good employee wellbeing.
This glossary aims to provide broad definitions of terms and not does not constitute professional HR advice. If you would like further clarification on any of the above terms or related issues please contact us.