HR Glossary: Your Guide to All Terms Human Resources

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Every day, the domain of Human Resources is constantly evolving to accommodate new practices, contemporary phenomena, and functional intricacies. With seemingly endless words, phrases, acronyms, and concepts to stay up-to-date on, this comprehensive HR glossary is designed to help offer clear, accessible definitions to seasoned professionals and HR novices alike. 

Your Comprehensive HR Glossary

Below, you’ll find a comprehensive list of essential terms used by professionals in human resources departments across the globe. This HR glossary covers all the jargon you’ll need to know for comprehensively managing your HR administrative services and building an adept workplace environment.  

Key HR Terminology

Attrition: Attrition describes the rate employees depart from an organization’s workforce over a given period. Attrition accounts for voluntary resignation, job termination, retirement, and death. 

Background Check: Background checks are standard tools used to help a company confirm the validity of claims made during the applicant screening process. They verify aspects of a potential new hire’s persona, such as educational and employment references, criminal record, citizenship status, and social media image. 

Benefits Administration: Benefits administration is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of any HR glossary. This describes an HR department’s responsibility to navigate, manage, and provide monetary and non-monetary benefits such as regular payroll, health insurance, vacation time, and sick leave. 

Compensation: Compensation refers to the wages and salaries employees earn while on the job. 

Conflict Management: Conflict management is an umbrella term that describes any tactics and procedures involved in mediating complex interpersonal relations among employees or between employees and their superiors. 

Diversity and Inclusion (DNI): Diversity and inclusion represent creating a workplace environment that values and uplifts individuals from diverse demographic backgrounds by nurturing a company culture based on respect, opportunity, and equality pillars. 

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): EAPs are newly popular benefit programs that offer employees support with personal or work-related issues impacting their mental health. EAPs often include confidential assessments, counseling, and personalized stress management tactics. 

Employee Benefits: Outside the purview of regular wages, employee benefits offer additional compensation through health or life insurance, paid time off, retirement savings plans, and other wellness opportunities. 

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): EEO laws protect potential employees from discriminatory hiring practices based on race, religion, ethnicity, age, ability, or sexual orientation. 

Exit Interview: Exit interviews follow an employee’s decision to part ways with their company or organization. These interviews allow employees to provide their businesses with valuable feedback about their experience and offer suggestions for future improvement. 

Flextime: Flextime refers to a company policy that allows employees to begin and end their workday as best befits their schedule beyond the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. interval. 

HR Audit: An HR audit is conducted to identify and improve upon operational gaps or compliance issues in human resources processes and policies. 

HR Compliance: HR compliance means ensuring that your organization is up-to-date on relevant regulations and operates in line with local labor laws and ethics. 

Human Resources Information System (HRIS): This software records and tracks employee information and can also be used to automate and manage core HR responsibilities such as payroll, data entry, and benefits administration.  

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs are strategic benchmarks and targets that help businesses evaluate the effectiveness of their objectives and strategies.   

Layoff: Layoff describes the cessation or termination of an individual’s employment due to factors unrelated to an employee’s performance, often due to macrocosmic financial difficulties. 

Onboarding: Onboarding describes the holistic process of integrating a new hire into an organization. Onboarding encompasses all necessary orientation meetings, skills training sessions, and signing relevant paperwork or contracts.

Offboarding: Offboarding describes effectively managing an employee’s departure from an organization. It involves returning relevant company property, exit interviews, and deactivating personal accounts. 

Outsource Payroll Processing: Outsourcing payroll occurs when an organization optimizes its in-house resources using a third-party administrative service to handle company salaries, payroll taxes, and other compliance services. 

Paid Time Off (PTO): Paid time off is a workplace benefit allowing employees to take time off work while still receiving their regular wages. PTO can be applied to vacation days, personal days, sick days, holidays, sabbaticals, or parental leave. 

Payroll: Payroll simply describes the process of paying company employees, including tracking billable hours, calculating compensation, withholding deductions, and distributing the pay itself.

Performance Appraisal: Performance appraisals are periodic, detailed assessments of employees’ job performance against a predetermined set of standards and expectations. These appraisals help an organization evaluate potential changes to an individual’s job position or compensation rate. 

Performance Management: Performance management, which often includes facilitating regular performance reviews, embodies processes and systems designed to help employees continuously target areas of improvement, enrich their skills, and receive helpful, constructive feedback from their employers. 

Professional Employer Organization (PEO): A PEO, such as Canal HR, functions as an acting co-employer that offers manifold organizational benefits by handling time-consuming administrative services. A company may outsource payroll, workers’ compensation, and risk management to a trustworthy PEO. 

Recruitment: When a company opens up a new employment opportunity, recruitment encompasses the proactive process of attracting, sourcing, vetting, and hiring qualified candidates to fill the vacant position. 

Remote Work: Remote work (or “work-from-home,” abbreviated WFH) describes an employee’s ability to telecommute or perform their responsibilities outside the workplace. 

Remuneration: An umbrella term that describes the amalgamation of benefits, wages, and other compensation rendered in exchange for an employee’s labor. 

Retention: Retention describes an organization’s strategic ability to sustain and retain in-house talent rather than face high attrition and turnover. 

Risk Management: Risk management identifies and mitigates potential liabilities posed by potential employee-related incidents and behaviors. HR risk management strategies seek comprehensive protections against interpersonal mismanagement that could affect the company’s integrity. 

Severance Package: After an employee is terminated or decides to resign from their position, severance packages offer additional pay, insurance coverage, or career transition support to help mitigate the physical and financial burdens that occur during offboarding. 

Succession Planning: Succession planning identifies critical business positions and develops actionable, proactive strategies for filling those positions with key in-house talent. 

Taxable Income: Taxable income represents the portion of an employee’s gross pay owed to the government (after deductions and exemptions) in a given tax year. 

Termination: Termination describes the voluntary or involuntary end of an employee’s employment contract. 

Turnover: Turnover calculates the percentage of employees that depart from a company or organization during a given period and the process of hiring any necessary replacements. 

Union: A union describes a formally recognized organization of workers that collectively advocates for fair labor conditions and industry standards. HR departments often play an important mediating role between union personnel and the company that employs them. 

Whistleblower Policy: A whistleblower policy protects an individual from retaliation in a situation where they report illegal or dishonest activities occurring within the workplace. 

Work-Life Balance: A proactive HR department can help promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees by promoting guidelines and strategies that help foster a stable equilibrium between time and energy spent in and out of the office. 

Workers’ Compensation: No HR glossary would be complete without highlighting the importance of workers’ comp. Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance designed to protect and offer medical, wage, and rehabilitation benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. 

Zero-Tolerance Policies: Zero-tolerance policies create a safe workplace environment by establishing strict regulations and bans against certain types of misconduct, such as harassment or violence, that usually result in the immediate termination of the offending party.

401k: 401k packages are employer-sponsored retirement plans that allow employees to deposit tax-deferred funds from each paycheck into accounts to be accessed post-retirement. These retirement plans are divided into traditional 401k’s and Roth IRAs

Improving Your Human Resources Competency with Canal HR 

Having a robust HR glossary at your disposal is just the first step in gaining a high level of proficiency in the many faculties of human resources and workplace management. Luckily, Canal HR is ready to help you understand the unique specificities of all things human resources from A to Z. 

Now that you’re familiar with the definition of a professional employer organization and understand how it can benefit your organization, consider partnering with Canal HR, a licensed PEO that has proudly served the southeastern United States for three decades. Get in touch today to discover how we can help your business run more efficiently than ever.