Human Resources A-Z Glossary


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360° Appraisal

An appraisal process by which employees are evaluated by a range of people.  This can include management, peers, direct reports, indirect reports, or even customers.  The term 360° is used to describe the fact that the evaluation takes place by those around the employee in all directions.

9 Box Grid

These are used to help plot employee performance.  The axes can be anything required by the organisation but are typically performance vs. potential.  Those in box 9 show the most talent and opportunity for progression while those in box 1 should either be encouraged to move up the grid or be managed out of the organisation.


Absence can account for anytime an employee is not in the workplace or working elsewhere.  This could be due to holidays or sickness, amongst other reasons. Organisations should strive to keep sickness absence at low levels to encourage increased productivity.

Action Planning

A plan put together to implement activities that will assist in achieving goals.  The action plan process goes from understanding the present situation, to design of actions, right through to implementation and evaluation.

Annual Leave

Time off approved by management.  Allowance varies between organisations.


Typically annual evaluation of performance and achievement of objectives.  Objectives set for the following year.

Assessment Centre

Extended period of recruitment activities, typically covering one day. 

Behavioural Competency

Behaviours required for the role that are subject to appraisal and evaluation.


Comparisons made with other organisations, usually within the same industry, or between sectors within the organisation.  Especially in the case of an employee survey.


Form of compensation for working within an organisation other than salary or wages.  Examples include holidays, pension plan, gym membership, private healthcare, etc.


The ability to perform actions.  Dismissal can be made on capability grounds when an employee is incapable of performing their role.  This can include absence from the organisation.

Change Management

An organisational strategy to anticipate and manage change for continual organisational development and effectiveness, including planning, design, implementation and evaluation. 


Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.  The UK’s leading professional body for HR and development.


Improving job performance through one or a series of conversations with a ‘coach’ or facilitator.  The coach encourages the ‘coachee’ to determine their own strategies for improving their job performance.


A vital element of all organisations that can take place in many forms, such as phone, face-to-face, email, notices, etc.  Good communication is essential for an organisation to work effectively.  Where communication breaks down, problems can persist.  All employees should be communicated to at every opportunity.


A behaviour or skill that is measurable.

Competency-Based Interview

Measuring competencies during an interview to ensure the candidate has the required behaviours and skills.  Typically, this would involve the candidate providing evidence of when they have displayed the required competency.

Core Competencies

The essential skills, knowledge and behaviours that an employee must possess to perform a job effectively.


The values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes and behaviours shared throughout the organisation or department.  These are generally unspoken and unwritten rules that employees work by.  The culture is predetermined by the people within the organisation and it is advisable to ensure a ‘culture fit’ when recruiting new employees.


The assignment of responsibility to another person.


Movement to a lower level role.


Improving the performance of employees.


A procedure carried out as the result of breach of the terms of the contract of employment.  Procedures vary by organisation.


Unfavourable treatment as the result of sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other means.


Cessation of contract of employment due to disciplinary, capability, breach of contract or redundancy.

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

The ability to identify, understand and respond to the emotions of self and others.

Employee Empowerment

Enabling employees to take responsibility for thinking, decision-making and innovation within their role.

Employee Engagement

An employee’s commitment to, involvement with and satisfaction for their role and the organisation.

Employee Handbook

Sets out the expectations, guidelines and procedures of the organisation.

Employee Survey

Questionnaire measuring the current opinion of the employees in relation to organisational issues.

Employment Contract

The terms by which both the employee and the employer should adhere while the employee works at that organisation.

Employment Law

Legislation that governs the employee-employer relationship.  Failing to comply with employment law could result in court proceedings and repercussions for the organisation.


Equal and fair treatment for all employees.

Exit Interview

An interview conducted by management or HR to determine an employee’s reasons for leaving the organisation and views relating to the organisation on leaving.

Extrinsic Motivation

Motivation for factors external to the individual, such as money.  Typically employees are less motivated by these factors than by intrinsic factors.


Communication of views or opinions relating to behaviour, progress, success, etc.  Typically from management downwards. 


Complaint brought forward by an employee relating to another employee.

Gross Misconduct

An act in serious breach of the employment contract and possibly the law that could to instant dismissal, e.g. theft, violence, etc.

Health and Safety

The responsibility held by the organisation in ensuring that employees’ wellbeing is not at risk.

Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s theory that individuals are motivated by 5 needs in ascending order of importance: 1. Physiological, 2. Safety, 3. Social, 4. Esteem, 5. Self-actualisation.


Human Resources.  The department within the organisation responsible for issues relating to the employees.

Human Capital

The collective skills, knowledge, and abilities present within an organisation.


The process by which a new employee is introduced to the organisation.

Intrinsic Motivation

Motivation for factors internal to an individual such as self-satisfaction, achievement, praise, etc.

Job Analysis

Break down of a job to understand it’s individual elements and requirements in order to write a job description.   Can be conducted by a number of methods including job shadowing and interviews of current employees.

Job Description

A full explanation of the job role requirements and responsibilities.

Job Satisfaction

An individual’s contentment or satisfaction with their job.

Job Share

The same role shared by at least 2 employees, who would usually work part time to produce the work of one full time employee.


Key Performance Indicators.  Used to measure progress towards goals and objectives


Management and executives skills to lead their teams and organisation.

Leadership Development

Professional development programs for management and executives to promote organisational development and success.

Likert Scale

A psychometric scale used in surveys and questionnaires to specify level of agreement with a statement.


Intervention in an employment dispute usually by an outsourced professional.


One to one passing down of knowledge by a more experienced colleague to support development of a more inexperienced employee.

Minimum Wage

The lowest possible earnings for employees as set by the Government.


The reason why people behave a certain way.  People are motivated by different factors.  Understanding what motivates our employees and acting on it can result in increased levels of productivity and performance.


Denial, prohibition or refusal.  Negative thoughts within the workplace can lead to lack of productivity making it essential to maintain a positive environment.


Discussions leading to mutual gain.


Establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other business professionals.


Mission, purpose or standard to meet within a set timeframe.

Online Hosting

Employee surveys hosted online with employees using log in details to access their survey.  Allows complete anonymity and ease of completion.

Open Door Policy

Every manager’s door is open to employees.  Management are accessible and open to all employees.

Organisational Commitment

A desire to belong to the organisation, identification with the goals and values, and a willingness to display effort on behalf of the organisation.

Organisational Hierarchy

Represents the structure of the organisation made up of layers of responsibility, from top management down.


Transfer of responsibility and management of functions or services by the organisation to an external provider.


Work done over and above the contractual hours.  Typically pay is increased for this work.

Performance Development Plan (PDP)

Record of ongoing personal development of employees including future goal setting.

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

As above but focussing specifically on how improvement can be made and what improvement has been made.

Performance Management

Measuring, developing and evaluating the performance of employees within the organisation, to ensure organisational and individual objectives are effectively achieved.


Movement up the organisational hierarchy.

Psychometric Test

Tests used to measure a range of aptitudes, abilities and personalities.  Typically used in recruitment and selection to ensure job and organisational fit.


Acknowledging, approving or rewarding good performance by employees.

Recruitment and Selection

Bringing individuals who possess the relevant skills, abilities and personality into the organisation.  A number of methods can be used including interviews, psychometric tests, assessment centres and presentations.


A process whereby employees are dismissed as a result of closure of the business or workplace or a reduced need for employees.


Money paid or a benefit given to an employee in return for their services.


A written or oral statement from an employee stating that they plan to leave the organisation.

Response Rate

In employee survey terms, the percentage of employees responding to the employee survey from the total number of employees invited to complete the survey.  The higher the response rate, the more viable the results.


The ability of an organisation to keep a high hold of its employees.  The opposite of turnover.

Return on Investment (ROI)

A measure of the profit gained from an investment compared to the cost of the investment itself.


Acknowledgment of good performance with the provision of benefits over and above those set out in the contract of employment.


Leave of absence from the organisation, typically unpaid and for a prolonged duration, in which an employee takes time away from their career.

SMART Objectives

An acronym used to describe how objectives should be set.  Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound.  All objectives should be smart to ensure that they can be achieved.


A plan setting out long term goals and objectives and how these can be achieved.  Can be applied on an organisational or departmental level.

Succession Planning

Identification of high achieving employees who show potential for future management roles and plans for how these employees will be developed to move into these roles.


A period of time during which an employee is temporarily dismissed from the organisation while a disciplinary investigation is carried out.

Talent Management

Recruiting, managing, assessing, developing, and retaining key talent within the organisation.


People employed on a temporary basis to assist with increased workloads or fill the roles of absent employees.


A law court that hears and settles industrial disputes, whereby the employee or organisation believes the other party has breached laws of employment.


The ratio of employees that had to be replaced during a certain period to the average number of employees.


Important and enduring beliefs or ideals held by the organisation that typically predict the working culture.

Work/Life Balance

The balance between home and work life.  A balance is achieved when an employee’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside of work is respected to the mutual benefit of the employee and the organisation.  A good work-life balance will lead to increased wellbeing and, possibly as a result, improved productivity and performance.


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