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Human Resources Glossary
„« Ability test: An assessment instrument used to measure an individual¡¦s abilities, mental or physical skills level (i.e. problem solving, manual dexterity, etc.).
„« Absenteeism: Referred to as the habitual failure of employees to report for work when they are scheduled to work.
„« Absolute ratings: A rating method where the rater assigns a specific value on a fixed scale to the behavior or performance of an individual instead of assigning ratings based on comparisons between other individuals.
„« Abstract reasoning: The process of perceiving issues and reaching conclusions through the use of symbols or generalizations rather than concrete factual information.
„« Academic: An educator who is a faculty member at a college or university. Also referred to as Academician.
„« Accessible format: Materials that are designed in alternate formats such as Braille, audiotape, oral presentation or electronically for individuals with visual impairments.
„« Accountability: The responsibility placed on an individual or group for their own or others¡¦ actions, conduct, performance, projects, etc.
„« Accreditation: A process of external quality review and certification by a recognized body that evaluates individuals, colleges, universities and educational programs to assure they are performing the functions that they claim to be performing in a competent manner.
„« Achievement test: A standardized testing instrument used to measure how much an individual has learned or what skills he or she has attained as a result of education, training or past experience.
„« Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS): Caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which kills or damages cells of the body's immune system by progressively destroying the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. People diagnosed with AIDS may get life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections, which are caused by microbes such as viruses or bacteria that usually do not make healthy people sick.
„« Acquisition: The process of acquiring control of another corporation by purchase or stock exchange.
„« Action learning: A learner-driven, continuous learning process where learning revolves around the need to find solutions to real problems.
„« Active learning: The process of learning new knowledge, skills and behaviors through taking specific actions or performing specific tasks.
„« Activities of daily living (ADL): The personal care activities which are essential to an individual¡¦s everyday living, including eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, mobility and toileting.
„« Adjunct program: A supplemental training tool that applies programming principles to existing instructional modules, materials, texts, manuals, etc., that are designed to direct the learner to specific areas within the module.
„« Adult learner: Individuals who are beyond postsecondary education age, are employed on a full- or part-time basis and are enrolled in a formal or informal educational program.
„« Adverse action: Any act by an employer that results in an individual or group of individuals being deprived of equal employment opportunities.
„« Adverse impact: A substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion or other employment decision that works to the disadvantage of a race, sex or ethnic group.
„« Adverse selection: An employer¡¦s selection practices or policies that result in discriminatory or unfavorable treatment toward an individual or individuals who are members of a protected group.
„« Advisory committee: A group or panel of internal or external members with no decision- making authority, assembled to identify and discuss specific issues and make recommendations.
„« Affirmative action (AA): Any program, policy or procedure that an employer implements in order to correct past discrimination and prevent current and future discrimination within the workplace.
„« After-acquired evidence: Used in litigation of employment discrimination disputes, after-acquired evidence is evidence that the employer discovers after it has already discharged an employee which proves that even if the discharge in question is found to be illegal, the employer would have dismissed the employee anyway in light of discovering the misconduct.
„« Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967: The ADEA protects workers age 40 and over by prohibiting discrimination against workers 40 and over in any employment or employment-related decision. The Act applies to most employers with 20 or more employees. One of the main provisions of the Act is that employers, with very few exceptions, can no longer force an employee to retire.
„« Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990: The ADA is a federal anti-discrimination law which prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. This law (covering employers with 15 or more employees) is designed to remove barriers that prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same employment opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. When an individual's disability creates a barrier to employment opportunities, the ADA requires employers to consider whether a reasonable accommodation could remove the barrier.
„« Alternation ranking: A rating method used in job evaluation and performance evaluation whereby the rater is asked to select the best and worst employees from a listing of all employees and then rank them accordingly.
„« Alternative assessment: Nontraditional procedures and techniques used within the framework of instructional programs to evaluate a student¡¦s educational achievement.
„« Alternative dispute resolution (ADR): A voluntary procedure used to resolve disputes or conflicts between individuals, groups or labor-management. This procedure utilizes the services of a neutral third party to facilitate discussion and assist the parties in reaching an agreement which is binding.
„« Alternative worksite: Any location other than the employer¡¦s physical worksite where employees are allowed to perform their jobs.
„« Analysis of variance: A statistical method used to determine whether a relationship exists among two or more variables by formulating concurrent comparisons of the variables.
„« Analytical thinking: The ability to analyze facts, generate a comparison and draw correct inferences or conclusions from available information.
„« Anecdotal: Information that is based on observations or indications of individual actions instead of any organized process.
„« Anti-nepotism policy: An employer¡¦s policy that restricts the employment of two or more family members at the same time.
„« Apparent authority: The appearance that an individual has the authority or power to act as an organization¡¦s agent, even though the organization has bestowed no such authority or power to that individual.
„« Applicant files: Application forms/resumes and other relevant items maintained by an employer and used during the selection process.
„« Applicant flow data: Records of hiring, promotion and other related employment actions used for the purpose of monitoring selection and employment practices.
„« Applicant pool: The sum total of all individuals who have applied for a position either by submitting a resume or application for employment which the employer uses to select candidates for employment.
„« Applicant tracking: Any paper or computerized system that tracks the organization¡¦s data such as resumes/applications and internal job posting information.
„« Application service provider (ASP): A third-party organization that delivers software applications and related services over the Internet allowing an organization to outsource some or all of its information technology needs.
„« Apprenticeship: A system used to train a person in a recognized trade or craft in accordance with specific standards. The apprenticed individual obtains his or her skills by performing the related duties for a specified period of time under the tutelage of an experienced craft or tradesman.
„« Aptitude testing: A standardized testing instrument used during the selection process that is intended to measure and predict an individual¡¦s abilities.
„« Arbitration: An alternative dispute resolution method that uses a neutral third party (i.e. arbitrator) to resolve individual, group or labor-management conflicts and issue a binding decision.
„« Architectural barriers: The physical attributes or design of a building, structure or facility that prevent individuals with physical disabilities from accessing or freely using the building, structure or facility. The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 requires any building constructed or leased in whole or in part with federal funds be made accessible to and usable by the physically disabled.
„« Assessment center: A testing location where a candidate being considered for assignment or promotion to managerial or executive-level position is rated by a team of experienced evaluators over a series of days using standardized activities, games and other simulations to predict the candidate¡¦s future job performance.
„« Attendance policy: An employer¡¦s written standards regarding the requirement for employees to be on time and present at work during regularly scheduled work periods.
„« Attitude survey: A tool used to solicit and assess employee opinions, feelings, perceptions and expectations regarding a variety of managerial and organizational issues.
„« Attorney: A professional individual who is authorized to practice law and can be legally appointed by either a plaintiff or a defendant to provide legal advice or act as a legal agent on their behalf during legal proceedings.
„« Attrition: A term used to describe voluntary and involuntary terminations, deaths and employee retirements that result in a reduction to the employer's physical workforce.
„« Auxiliary aids: Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as including "a wide range of services and devices (necessary) for ensuring that equally effective communication" takes place with regard to persons with hearing, speech and vision disabilities. Such aids include, but are not restricted to, providing interpreters, assistive listening devices, materials in Braille, closed caption, telecommunication devices for the hearing impaired, etc.
„« Availability analysis: The process of determining the number of qualified minorities and women in the relevant available workforce who possess or have the ability to acquire the required skills or qualifications for any available position within the organization.
„« Baby boomers: The term used to describe those individuals born between 1945 and 1970.
„« Baby busters: The term used to describe those individuals born between 1961 and 1972.
„« Background check/investigation: The process of verifying information supplied by applicants who are being considered for employment, including, but not limited to, contacting former employers, obtaining educational records and requesting criminal or consumer credit reports.
„« Baldridge National Quality Award: The Baldrige Award is given by the President of the United States to businesses¡Xmanufacturing and service, small and large¡Xand to education and health care organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer and market focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; human resource focus; process management; and results.
„« Balanced scorecard: A popular strategic management concept developed in the early 1990s by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton. The balanced scorecard is a management and measurement system that enables organizations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. The goal of the balanced scorecard is to tie business performance to organizational strategy by measuring results in four areas: financial performance, customer knowledge, internal business processes, and learning and growth.
„« Bankruptcy: A federal law consisting of different chapters (i.e. chapter 7, chapter 11 or chapter 13) that allows individuals and businesses that are experiencing extreme financial duress and are unable to meet their financial obligations to eliminate or restructure their debts.
„« Barrier analysis: The process of reviewing an organization¡¦s policies and procedures to identify and eliminate impediments in recruitment, selection, transfer, or promotion of protected class individuals throughout the organization.
„« Behavioral-based interview: An interview technique that focuses on a candidate¡¦s past experiences, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities by asking the candidate to provide specific examples of when he or she has demonstrated certain behaviors or skills as a means of predicting future behavior and performance.
„« 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 distinguish between successful and unsuccessful performance. These critical behaviors are then categorized and appointed a numerical value used as the basis for rating performance.
„« 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.
„« Behavior modification: A conscious attempt to change or eliminate an individual¡¦s undesirable behavior by specifying expected behavior and reinforcing and rewarding desired behavior.
„« Bell-shaped curve: The curve representing the normal distribution of a rating or test score.
„« Benchmarking: The systematic process of comparing an organization¡¦s products, services and practices against those of competitor organizations or other industry leaders to determine what it is they do that allows them to achieve high levels of performance.
„« Benchmarks: The standards used as a basis for comparison or measurement.
„« Bereavement leave: An employer policy that provides a specific number of paid days off following the death of an employee¡¦s spouse, parent, child, grandparent or in-law so that the employee may attend funeral proceedings, etc.
„« Best practices: Defined in a variety of ways, but typically refers to the practices of an organization that enables them to achieve superior organizational performance results.
„« Bidding: The practice of posting all job openings internally so that current employees may be allowed the opportunity to apply for vacant positions prior to the employer seeking qualified candidates through other external recruitment measures.
„« Blended workforce: A workforce is comprised of permanent full-time, part-time, temporary employees and independent contractors.
„« Blind ad: A job advertisement placed in a newspaper, trade journal/publication, magazine or Internet job board that contains no identifying information about the employer placing the ad.
„« Blood-Borne Pathogens Standard: An OSHA standard that sets forth requirements for employers with workers exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials. In order to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure, an employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an employer will use a combination of engineering and work practice controls, ensure the use of personal protective clothing and equipment, provide training, medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, and signs and labels, among other provisions. Engineering controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimizing employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices, such as needle less devices, shielded needle devices and plastic capillary tubes.
„« Blue collar workers: Hourly paid workers employed in occupations that require physical or manual labor.
„« Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ): A very narrowly interpreted exception to EEO laws that allows employers to base employment decisions for a particular job on such factors as sex, religion or national origin, if they are able to demonstrate that such factors are an essential qualification for performing a particular job.
„« Bonus plan: An incentive pay plan which awards employees compensation, in addition to their base salary, for achieving individual or group performance and productivity goals.
„« Boundary less organization: Defined as an organization that removes roadblocks to maximize the flow of information throughout the organization.
„« Branding: The process of identifying and differentiating an organization¡¦s products, processes or services from another organization by giving it a name, phrase or other mark.
„« Breach of contract: Occurring when an individual who is a party to a contract or agreement does not uphold or violates the terms of the contract.
„« Break-even analysis: A measure used to determine the approximate sales volume required to cover the costs associated with producing a particular product or service.
„« Broad banding: A pay structure that consolidates a large number of narrower pay grades into fewer broad bands with wider salary ranges.
„« Buddy system: A form of employee orientation whereby a newly hired employee is assigned to another employee (typically within the same department) who shows the new employee the ropes, introduces him or her to coworkers, gives personal assistance and answers questions on an as-needed basis.
„« Budget: A numerical summary of an organization¡¦s available resources and how those resources are to be allocated based on anticipated future expenditures for various items, such as equipment, training and development programs, benefits, implementing new processes or services, etc.
„« Bumping: The practice of allowing more senior level employees whose positions have been slotted for elimination or downsizing the option of accepting an alternative position within the organization, for which they may be qualified to perform and which is currently occupied by another employee with less seniority.
„« Burden of proof: The burden placed on an employer, as a result of a claim of discriminatory treatment, to provide a verifiable, legitimate and nondiscriminatory reason for any employment action taken which may have resulted in adverse treatment of a member(s) of a protected group.
„« Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): The principal fact-finding agency for the federal government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics. The BLS is an independent national statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other federal agencies, state and local governments, business and labor. BLS also serves as a statistical resource to the Department of Labor.
„« Burnout: Physical or emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation or decreased morale resulting from an individual being exposed to excessive or prolonged stress and frustration caused by personal problems, work pressures, financial difficulties, etc.
„« 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 literacy: The knowledge and understanding of the financial, accounting, marketing and operational functions of an organization.
„« Business plan: A document that provides relevant information about a company by outlining items such as the company¡¦s business description, market or industry, management, competitors, future prospects and growth potential, etc.
„« C-Suite: A term used to describe members of the executive team, i.e. CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, etc.
„« Call center: The area in an organization responsible for screening, forwarding and logging large volumes of customer-related calls at the same time through the use of technology and other resources.
„« Cafeteria plan: A benefit plan which allows employees to choose between one or more qualified tax-favored benefits and cash.
„« Career center: An office set up within an organization to be used for the purpose of providing outplacement counseling and job placement services to displaced workers.
„« Career counseling: Guiding individuals through the career planning and career decision-making process by helping them to make informed decisions regarding educational and occupational choices, as well as providing resources needed to further developing job search and placement skills.
„« Career development: The process by which individuals establish their current and future career objectives and assess their existing skills, knowledge or experience levels and implement an appropriate course of action to attain their desired career objectives.
„« Career ladder: The progression of jobs in an organization¡¦s specific occupational fields ranked from highest to lowest based on level of responsibility and pay.
„« Career mobility: The propensity to make several career changes during an individual¡¦s lifetime instead of committing to a long-term career within a specific occupational field.
„« Career path: The progression of jobs in an organization¡¦s specific occupational fields ranked from lowest to highest in the hierarchal structure.
„« Career planning: The process of establishing career objectives and determining appropriate educational and developmental programs to further develop the skills required to achieve short- or long-term career objectives.
„« Career plateau: Occurs when an employee has reached the highest position level he or she can possibly obtain within an organization and has no future prospect of being promoted due to a lack of skills, corporate restructuring or other factors.
„« Case study: A case study uses real scenarios that focus on a specific issue(s). It looks deeply at a specific issue, drawing conclusions only about that issue and only in that specific context.
„« Casual dress: Refers to attire such as jeans, casual slacks, t-shirts, sport and polo shirts and other apparel used for leisure.
„« 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.
„« Caucus: A labor relations term used to define periodic suspensions of negotiations in order to provide both sides with an opportunity to consider their relevant positions.
„« Centralization: The process of consolidating all decision-making authority under one central group or location.
„« Change agent: A term used to define an individual or group of individuals who directly or indirectly cause or accelerate social, cultural, or behavioral change.
„« Change management: The systematic approach and application of knowledge, tools and resources to deal with change. Change management means defining and adopting corporate strategies, structures, procedures and technologies to deal with changes in external conditions and the business environment.
„« Child-labor law: Provisions under FLSA are designed to protect the educational opportunities of youth and prohibit their employment in jobs that are detrimental to their health and safety. FLSA restricts the hours that youth under 16 years of age can work and lists hazardous occupations too dangerous for young workers to perform.
„« Civil rights: The rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and federal and state statutes enacted to protect a wide range of individual rights, such as right to vote, freedom of speech, the right to assemble, the right to equal treatment, etc.
„« Civil Rights Act of 1964: A federal statute enacted to further guarantee the constitutional rights of individuals and prevent employment discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin or age.
„« Civil Rights Act of 1991: A federal statute that amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enacted to strengthen and improve federal civil rights laws by providing for damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination, clarifying provisions regarding disparate impact actions and for other purposes.
„« Class action suit: A lawsuit filed by one party on behalf of themselves and other people in a group who share the same complaint.
„« Climate survey: A tool used to solicit and asses employee opinions, feelings, perceptions and expectations regarding a variety of factors pertinent to maintaining the organizations climate, such as opportunities for growth, management, working relationships and environment, etc.
„« Coaching: A training method in which a more experienced or skilled individual provides an employee with advice and guidance intended to help him or her develop skills, improve performance and enhance the quality of his or her career.
„« 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.
„« Color discrimination: Color discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against based on the lightness, darkness, or other color characteristic of the person. Even though race and color clearly overlap, they are not synonymous.
„« Cognitive ability testing: A testing instrument used during the selection process in order to measure the candidate¡¦s learning and reasoning abilities.
„« Common law employment test: Refers to the IRS¡¦s 20-question common law test which examines the level of control exercised over a worker by an employer in order to determine whether the individual is an employee or an independent contractor.
„« Communicable disease: Any condition that is transmitted directly or indirectly to a person from an infected person or animal through the agency of an intermediate animal, host or vector or through the inanimate environment. Communicable diseases include, but is not limited to, influenza; tuberculosis; conjunctivitis; infectious mononucleosis; acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), AIDS-related complex (ARC) and positive HIV antibody status; hepatitis A, B, C and D; meningitis; SARS; and sexually transmitted diseases.
„« Compa ratio: The ratio of an actual pay rate to the midpoint for the respective pay grade used for comparing actual rates of pay with the midpoint for a particular pay grade within the salary structure.
„« Comparative rating: A rating method that determines ratings by making comparisons between the individuals being rated.
„« Compensatory time-off plan: The practice of giving employees paid time off that can be used in the future in lieu of paying them overtime for hours worked in excess of 40 per week. While an acceptable practice in the public sector, the FLSA places very strict limitations on the use of compensatory time off for private sector employers.
„« Competency-based pay: A compensation system that recognizes employees for the depth, breadth and types of skills they obtain and apply in their work. Also known as skill-based and knowledge-based pay.
„« Competencies: The knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform a specific task or function.
„« Compressed workweek: An alternative scheduling method that allows employees to work a standard workweek over less than a five-day period in one week or a 10-day period in two weeks.
„« Concurrent validity: The means of determining a test¡¦s or other assessment tool¡¦s validity by comparing test scores against actual job performance.
„« Condition of employment: An organization¡¦s policies and work rules that employees are expected to abide by in order to remain continuously employed.
„« Confidentiality agreement: A contract restricting an employee from disclosing confidential or proprietary information.
„« Conflict of interest: Refers to situations when an individual has other competing financial, professional or personal obligations or interests that interfere with his or her ability to adequately perform required duties in a fair and objective manner.
„« Consideration: A benefit or other item of value given to an individual who is asked to sign an employment contract or agreement (i.e., release agreement) that is above and beyond what the individual would have been entitled to, had he or she not been asked to sign a contract or agreement.
„« Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985: Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, if an employee terminates employment with the company, the employee is entitled to continue participating in the company¡¦s group health plan for a prescribed period of time, usually 18 months. (In certain circumstances, such as an employee¡¦s divorce or death, the length of coverage period may be longer for qualified dependents). COBRA coverage is not extended to employees terminated for gross misconduct.
„« Constructive discharge: Occurs when a manager/supervisor or employer makes working conditions so unbearable or abusive that a reasonable person believes that resignation is the only appropriate action to take.
„« Construct validity: The extent to which a test or other assessment instrument measures a particular trait.
„« Consultant: An individual who works independently to assist and advise client organizations with various organizational functions and responsibilities on a fee-for-service basis.
„« Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968: Prohibits employees from being terminated for garnishments for any one indebtedness. Although two or more do allow an employer to terminate, care should be exercised to prevent disparate impact if the employees being terminated are mostly women and minorities.
„« Consumer credit report: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) defines a consumer report as any communication of any information by a consumer reporting agency bearing on a consumer's credit worthiness, credit standing, credit capacity, character, general reputation, personal characteristics or mode of living, which is used, or expected to be used, or collected, in whole or in part, for the purpose of serving as a factor in establishing the consumer's eligibility for credit or insurance to be used primarily for personal, family or household purposes or employment purposes.
„« Consumer Price Index (CPI): An index of prices used to measure the change in the cost of basic goods and services in comparison with a fixed base period. Also called cost-of-living index.
„« Content validity: The degree to which a test or other assessment instrument used during the selection process measures the skills, knowledge and abilities or other related job qualifications.
„« Contingency planning: The process of identifying an organization¡¦s critical information systems and business operations and developing and implementing plans to enable those systems and operations to resume following a disaster or other emergency situation.
„« Contingent worker: Refers to an individual employed in a job that does not have an explicit contract for long-term employment (i.e., independent contractor or temporary employee)
„« Core competencies: The skills, knowledge and abilities which employees must possess in order to successfully perform job functions that are essential to business operations.
„« Core work activities: The tasks or functions within an organization considered essential to the organization¡¦s business operations.
„« Core workers: Employees who are considered to be vital to the organization¡¦s successful business operations.
„« Corporate citizenship: ¡¥Corporate Citizenship is the contribution a company makes to society through its core business activities, its social investment and philanthropy programs, and its engagement in public policy. The manner in which a company manages its economic, social and environmental relationships, and the way it engages with its stakeholders (such as shareholders, employees, customers, business partners, governments and communities), has an impact on the company's long-term success.¡¦ (World Economic Forum) The term is also used interchangeably with other similar terms such as Corporate Governance and/or Corporate Social Responsibility.
„« Corporate culture: The beliefs, values and practices adopted by an organization that directly influence employee conduct and behavior.
„« Corporate image: The way in which an organization is viewed by clients, employees, vendors or the general public.
„« Corporate values: The prescribed standards, behaviors, principles or concepts that an organization regards as highly important.
„« Cost-benefit analysis: A means of measuring the costs associated with a specific program, project, activity or benefit compared with the total benefit or value derived.
„« Cost of labor: The total payments in the form of gross salary and wages, bonuses, and other cash allowances paid to employees and salaries, allowances, fees, bonuses and commissions paid to working directors and fees paid to non-working directors for their attendance at the Board of Directors' meetings.
„« Cost of living: The amount of money needed to buy the goods and services required to maintain a specific standard of living. The cost of living is closely tied to rates of inflation and deflation. In estimating such costs, food, clothing, rent, fuel, lighting, and furnishings as well as expenses for communication, education, recreation, transportation, and medical services are generally included. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measurement of the cost of living prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, tracks changes in retail prices of an average ¡§market basket.¡¨ Changes are compared to prices in a previously selected base year, from which figures the percentage increase or decrease in the cost of living can be calculated.
„« Cost of living adjustment (COLA): An annual adjustment in wages to offset a change in purchasing power, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index is used rather than the Producer Price Index because the purpose is to offset inflation as experienced by the consumer, not the producer.
„« Cost-per-hire: The direct and indirect costs that are calculated to measure the costs associated with filling a vacancy. Direct costs include, but are not limited to, advertising, employment agency fees, job fairs, employee referrals, credit and reference checking costs, examination and testing costs during the selection process, signing bonuses, relocation costs, human resource overhead costs, college recruiting costs, Internet costs and training and communication costs. Indirect costs can include, but are also not limited to, lower productivity, costs of turnover, morale impacts, safety (if there is a higher number of accidents as a result of the vacancy), disruption of regular business functions, overtime (to compensate for the vacancy) and hiring to maintain production.
„« Counseling: Actions or interactions in one or serial form which serve to provide direction, guidance or advice with respect to recommendations, decisions or courses of action.
„« Craft worker: An individual employed in a profession or activity that uses experienced hands to make something. Apprenticeships are often required and post secondary vocational schools also offer such craft oriented training. Training time can be over a course of years and require certification examinations. Examples: electrician, plumber, tool; and die maker, machinist, HVAC specialist, journeyman carpenter, cabinet maker.
„« Crisis management: A broad term that refers to an organizations pre-established activities and guidelines, for preparing and responding to significant catastrophic events or incidents (i.e., fire, earthquake, severe storms, workplace violence, kidnapping, bomb threats, acts of terrorism, etc.) in a safe and effective manner. A successful crisis management plan also incorporates other organizational programs such as , emergency response , disaster recovery, risk management, communications, business continuity, etc.
„« Crisis planning: A formal written plan establishing specific measures or actions to be taken when responding to catastrophic events or tragedies (i.e., fire, earthquake, severe storms, workplace violence, kidnapping, bomb threats, acts of terrorism, etc.) in the workplace.
„« Crisis prevention: The process of an organization implementing specific plans and procedures designed to circumvent certain disasters or emergencies.
„« Critical success factors: The key items that must be met in order to successfully achieve a specific objective.
„« Critical tasks: The job tasks or functions essential to the proper performance of a particular job.
„« Cross-functional teams: Work teams comprised of individuals who represent the various organizational functions, departments or divisions.
„« Cross training: The process of developing a multi skilled workforce by providing employees with training and development opportunities to ensure they have the skills necessary to perform various job functions within an organization.
„« Cyber smear: Using Web sites, listservs, chat rooms or bulletin boards to post insulting or defamatory statements regarding former employers.
„« Cultural differences: The diverse behaviors, beliefs, customs, traditions, language and expressions that are characteristic to groups of people of a particular race, ethnicity or national origin.
„« Cultural integration: The process of bringing people of different racial or ethnic backgrounds into equal association.
„« Curriculum vitae (c.v.): Used in the United States to describe, a longer, more detailed version of a resume. Internationally is synonymous with resume.
„« Daily work records: A daily log of job tasks being performed by individual employees over a certain period of time. Used often as a form of job analysis.
„« Damages: The amounts awarded by a court to be paid by one party to another as a result of violating a contract or agreement.
„« Deauthorization: The termination of union representation over a specific bargaining unit following a decertification election.
„« Decentralization: The process of assigning decision-making authority to lower levels within the organizational hierarchy.
„« Decertification: Allows members of a particular bargaining unit to terminate their union representation through a voting process.
„« Deductive reasoning: The ability to extract certain rules based on a sequence of experiences or observations and apply those rules to other similar situations.
„« Defamation: Injury caused to an individual¡¦s character or reputation resulting from another individual(s) issuing false or malicious statements either verbally or in writing.
„« Deferred compensation: Payment for services under any employer-sponsored plan or arrangement that allows an employee (for tax-related purposes) to defer income to the future.
„« Defined benefit plan: A retirement plan that is not an individual account plan and pays participants a fixed periodic benefit or a lump-sum amount, calculated using specific formulas that include such items as age, earnings and length of service.
„« Defined contribution plan: An individual account plan in which the employer contributes a specific amount of money into each year that is to be distributed among the accounts of each plan participant.
„« De-layering: An organizational restructuring strategy meant to reduce the organization¡¦s existing levels of managers or supervisors.
„« Delegation: The process of assigning tasks or projects to subordinates and clearly dictating expected outcomes and timeframe for completion.
„« De minimis rule: Described by IRS guidelines as any benefit, property or service provided to an employee that has so little value (taking into account how frequently similar benefits are provided to employees) that accounting for it would be unreasonable or administratively impracticable. Cash, no matter how little, is never excludable as a de minimis benefit, except for occasional meal money or transportation fare.
„« Demographics: The physical characteristics of a population, such as age, sex, marital status, family size, education, geographic location and occupation.
„« Demotion: A permanent reassignment to a position with a lower pay grade, skill requirement or level of responsibility than the employee¡¦s current position.
„« Departmentation: The process of dividing an organization¡¦s labor, functions, processes or units into separate groups.
„« Department of Labor (DOL): The federal agency responsible for administering and enforcing a large quantity of federal labor laws, including, but not limited to, overtime pay, child labor, wages and hours, workplace health and safety, FMLA, and various other employee rights.
„« Dependent care assistance plan: An employer benefit plan that provides employees with dependent care assistance, such as paying for or providing qualified child and dependent care services necessary for them to seek or obtain gainful employment or remain gainfully employed.
„« Deposition: The process of one party, accompanied by his or her legal counsel, answering questions under oath about pertinent facts regarding a case put forth by another party¡¦s legal counsel; conducted outside of a courtroom.
„« Descriptive scale: Any rating scale that uses adjectives or phrases to determine performance ratings.
„« Developmental counseling: A form of shared counseling where managers or supervisors work together with subordinates to identify strengths and weaknesses, resolve performance-related problems and determine and create an appropriate action plan.
„« Developmental disabilities: Defined as a severe, chronic disability of an individual that: is attributable to mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments; is manifested before the individual attains the age of 22; is likely to continue indefinitely; results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: self-care, receptive and expressive living, and economic self-sufficiency; and reflects the individual's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary or generic services, individualized support or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
„« Development program: Training or educational programs designed to stimulate an individual¡¦s professional growth by increasing his or her skills, knowledge or abilities.
„« Direct compensation: All compensation (base salary and/or incentive pay) that is paid directly to an employee.
„« Direct costs: The costs directly attributed to a particular products, programs or activities.
„« Direct labor: The workers who actually produce a product or provide a service.
„« Disability: Defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual¡¦s major life activities (i.e., walking, talking, standing, sitting, etc.)
„« Disability management: The process of coordinating efforts between employees, management, physicians, rehabilitation service providers and insurance carriers to reduce the impact of work-related injuries or illnesses and assisting injured employees in continuing to successfully perform their jobs.
„« Disabled individual: Under the ADA guidelines, an individual with a disability is a person who: has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such impairment. Disability under Social Security rules are defined as an individual who is unable to perform work that he or she was previously able to perform and the individual cannot adjust to other work because of his or her medical condition(s), which is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
„« Disaster recovery plan: A set of guidelines and procedures to be used by an organization for the recovery of data lost due to severe forces of nature, such as earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, floods or hurricanes.
„« Discharge: The termination of an employee based on previous disciplinary proceedings or for violating a major work rule or policy.
„« Disciplinary action: The means of reprimanding employees who fail to abide by the organization¡¦s performance standards, policies or rules.
„« Disciplinary layoff: A disciplinary measure in which employees are suspended without pay for a specified period of time due to violations of a company work rule or policy.
„« Disclosure: The process of disclosing information to employees or the general public regarding any business practices or processes that contain the propensity to be hazardous to the environment or the health and safety of individuals.
„« Discretionary bonus: A form of variable pay where an employer provides additional cash compensation to an employee for reasons that are not pursuant to any prior contract, agreement or promise that would lead the employee to expect the payments regularly.
„« Discrimination: Any policy or action taken related to recruiting, hiring, promotion, pay or training practices that result in an unfair disadvantage to either an individual or group of individuals who are considered part of a protected class.
„« Disqualifying income: Commonly used as an offset when coordinating income from multiple sources.
„« Disparate impact: Under Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) law, a less favorable effect for one group than for another. A disparate impact results when rules applied to all employees have a different and more inhibiting effect on women and minority groups than on the majority.
„« Disparate treatment: Such treatment results when rules or policies are applied inconsistently to one group of people over another. Discrimination may result when rules and policies are applied differently to members of protected classes.
„« Displaced workers: Individuals who have lost their jobs due to a plant closing, relocation, downsizing or position elimination.
„« Dissatisfiers: Factors, such as working conditions, job functions, pay and benefits or organizational policies and practices, that contribute to employee dissatisfaction.
„« Distance learning: The process of delivering educational or instructional programs to locations away from a classroom or site to another location by using technology, such as video or audio conferencing, computers, Web-based applications or other multimedia communications.
„« Distractors: Refers to incorporating incorrect items or answers into a testing instrument where the testee is asked to select from a group of items or answers (i.e., multiple choice exams).
„« Diversity: A broad definition of diversity ranges from personality and work style to all of the visible dimensions of diversity such as race, age, ethnicity or gender, to secondary influences such as religion, socioeconomics and education, to work diversities such as management and union, functional level and classification or proximity/distance to headquarters.
„« Diversity training: A fundamental component of a diversity initiative that represents the opportunity for an organization to inform and educate senior management and staff about diversity. The purpose of training is not only to increase awareness and understanding of workplace diversity, but also to develop concrete skills among staff that will facilitate enhanced productivity and communications among all employees.
„« Documentation: Refers to written notices, records, forms, memos, letters and so forth used during disciplinary proceedings.
„« Domestic partner benefits: Benefit plan provided by an employer that recognizes individuals who are of the same or opposite sex as spousal equivalents for purposes of health care coverage. Domestic partners are typically defined of as individuals that have lived together in the same residence for a specified period, are responsible for each other's financial welfare, are not blood relatives, are at least 18 years of age, are mentally competent, are life partners and would get legally married should the option become available, are registered as domestic partners if there is a local domestic partner registry, and are not legally married to anyone else.
„« Downgrading: The practice of moving an employee to a job that has a lower pay grade or level of responsibility or skill.
„« Downshifting: Refers to employees who choose to accept or remain in lower level or lower paying jobs in order to satisfy their personal and family needs.
„« Downsizing: The process of reducing the employer¡¦s workforce through elimination of positions, management layers, processes, functions, etc.
„« Dress code: An organizational policy or rule to be used by employees as a guideline as to what is considered appropriate attire for the workplace.
„« Drug abuse/substance abuse: Habitual and excessive use of a drug for purposes other than what was medically intended.
„« Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988: Requires some federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a federal agency. Although all covered contractors and grantees must maintain a drug-free workplace, the specific components necessary to meet the requirements of the Act vary based on whether the contractor or grantee is an individual or an organization.
„« Drug testing: The process of testing employees to detect the presence of illegal drugs or alcohol within their system. Drug testing can be conducted on a pre-employment, random or post-accident basis, as well as for cause or suspicion, in accordance with the employer¡¦s policy and any governing state law.
„« Dual career ladders/tracks: An employee career development plan allowing employees to alternate between technical, professional or managerial positions over the course of their careers while they simultaneously receive higher compensation and gain higher status levels within the organization.
„« Due diligence: A critical component of mergers and acquisitions, it is the process of conducting an investigation and evaluation in order to examine the details of a particular investment or purchase by obtaining sufficient and accurate information or documents that may influence the outcome of the transaction.
„« E-learning: The delivery of formal and informal training and educational materials, processes and programs via the use of electronic media.
„« Early retirement plan: A benefit plan offered by an organization providing incentives geared toward encouraging employees who are approaching retirement age to voluntarily retire prior to their normal retirement age.
„« Early return to work program: Modified work programs designed to get employees who have been out of work due to injury or illness to return to the workforce sooner by providing them with less strenuous alternative jobs until they are able to resume their full regular duties.
„« Electromation: Used to refer to a NLRB ruling declaring that, in nonunion companies, labor management cooperation (i.e., quality circles, employee involvement programs, etc.) is illegal because the committees through which such cooperation takes place are equal to a labor organization, as defined by the NLRA.
„« Electronic monitoring: An employee surveillance practice where items such as telephone calls or e-mail/Internet usage are observed for general business, training or performance-related reasons.
„« Emergency planning: The process of establishing specific measures or actions to be taken when responding to catastrophic events or tragedies (i.e., fire, earthquake, severe storms, workplace violence, kidnapping, bomb threats, acts of terrorism or other emergency situations) in the workplace.
„« Emotional intelligence: Describes the mental ability an individual possesses enabling him or her to be sensitive and understanding to the emotions of others, as well as to manage his or her own emotions and impulses.
„« Employee assistance program (EAP): A work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems (i.e., marital, financial or emotional problems, family issues, substance/alcohol abuse) that may be adversely affecting the employee¡¦s performance.
„« Employee-driven idea system: A type of suggestion program where employees are rewarded for being ultimately responsible for the management and implementation of any idea they submitted.
„« Employee engagement: The means of creating a work environment that empowers employees to make decisions that affect their jobs. Also referred to as employee involvement. Further defined by the Corporate Leadership Council in the in their 2004 study, ¡§Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement¡¨ as ¡§the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization, how hard they work, and how long they stay as a result of that commitment.¡¨
„« Employee handbook: A written or electronic document containing summaries of the employer¡¦s policies and benefits designed to familiarize employees with various matters affecting the employment relationship.
„« Employee leasing: A staffing alternative whereby employers form a joint-employment relationship with a leasing agency or professional employer organization (PEO) that takes on the responsibility for various HR-related functions, such as labor law compliance, compensation and benefits administration, record-keeping, payroll and employment taxes.
„« Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988: Prohibits most private employers from requiring employees or candidates for employment to submit to a lie detector test. The only time an employer may ask (but not require) an employee to take a polygraph test is in the conduct of an ongoing investigation into theft, embezzlement or a similar economic loss; or if the employee had access to property that was lost and the employer has a reasonable suspicion that the employee was involved. Employees who take a polygraph test may not be discharged or suffer any other negative consequences solely on the basis of the test, without other supporting evidence. The Act strictly mandates how polygraph tests may be administered and how the results are used.
„« Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)of 1974: ERISA sets requirements for the provision and administration of employee benefit plans. Employee benefit plans include health care benefits, profit sharing and pension plans, for example.
„« Employee referral program: A recruiting strategy where current employees are rewarded for referring qualified candidates for employment.
„« Employee relations: 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.
„« Employee retention: Organizational policies and practices designed to meet the diverse needs of employees and create an environment that encourages employees to remain employed.
„« Employee self-service: A trend in human resource management that allows employees to handle many job-related tasks normally conducted by HR (such as benefits enrollment, updating personal information and accessing company information) through the use of a company's intranet, specialized kiosks or other Web-based applications.
„« Employee stock ownership plan (ESOP): A trust established by a corporation that operates as a tax-qualified defined contribution retirement plan, but unlike traditional defined contribution plans, employer contributions are invested in the company's stock.
„« Employee stock purchase plan: An employer-sponsored plan that allows employees to purchase company stock below the fair market value.
„« Employer of choice: A term used to describe a public or private employer whose practices, policies, benefits and overall work conditions have enabled it to successfully attract and retain talent because employees choose to work there.
„« Employment agency: An organization that provides job placement assistance, either on a temporary or permanent basis, to individuals seeking employment opportunities.
„« Employment-at-will: A legal doctrine that states that an employment relationship may be terminated by the employer or employee at any time and for any or no reason.
„« Employment agreement/contract: A formal, legally binding agreement between an employer and employee outlining terms of employment such as duration, compensation, benefits, etc.
„« Employment branding: A combination of marketing, communication and technology used by an organization intended to give it greater visibility amongst a large population within a short timeframe.
„« Employment cost index: Conducted annually as part of the Department of Labor¡¦s National Compensation Survey program, the Employment Cost Index measures the relative changes in wages, benefits and bonuses for a specific group of occupations.
„« Employment displacement: Occurs when an employee is terminated as a result of position elimination.
„« Employment practices liability audit: An assessment of an employer¡¦s current policies and practices to determine potential areas of liability (i.e., discrimination, wrongful discharge and other violations of employee rights) typically conducted by an outside consulting or legal firm.
„« Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI): An insurance plan that provides employers with protection against claims of discrimination, wrongful termination, sexual harassment or other employment-related issues made by employees, former employees or potential employees.
„« Employment torts: The grounds on which a lawsuit is based, such as wrongful discharge, negligence or invasion of privacy.
„« Employment visas: An immigration-issued document that allows aliens to obtain temporary residency for the purpose of pursuing employment opportunities within the United States.
„« Empowerment: Enabling an individual to have responsibility, control and decision-making authority over the work he or she performs.
„« English-only rules: An employer policy or work rule that requires employees to only speak in the English language at all times while on the job or in the workplace.
„« English as a second language (ESL): English language training provided to individuals who do not speak English as their primary language.
„« Environmental Scanning: A process that systematically surveys and interprets relevant data to identify external opportunities and threats.
„« Equal employment opportunity (EEO): A policy statement that equal consideration for a job is applicable to all individuals and that the employer does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, age, marital status, national origin, disability or sex.
„« Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): The federal agency responsible for publishing guidelines, enforcing EEO laws and investigating complaints of job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age or disability.
„« Equal Pay Act of 1963: A federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating between male employees and female employees in terms of pay when they are performing jobs that are essentially the same or of comparable worth.
„« Equal Treatment: A legal doctrine used in discharge cases to determine whether an employer¡¦s policies and practices are applied in a fair, consistent and nondiscriminatory manner.
„« Equivalent position: According to section 825.215 of the FMLA regulations, an equivalent position is one that is virtually identical to the employee's former position in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions, including privileges, perquisites and status. It must involve the same or substantially similar duties and responsibilities, which must entail substantially equivalent skill, responsibility and authority.
„« Ergonomics: The design of the equipment, furniture, machinery or tools used in the workplace that promotes safety, efficiency and productivity and reduces discomfort and fatigue.
„« Error of central tendency: A rating error occurring when the rater displays a propensity to assign only average ratings to all individuals being rated.
„« Error of contrast: An error occurring when raters assign ratings based on comparisons between individuals being rated instead of using previously established organizational standards.
„« Error of halo: A rating error occurring when the rater assigns a rating based on individuals¡¦ positive or negative characteristics.
„« Error of inconsistency: Occurs when no established organizational standards for rating an individual exist, and raters use different strategies for assigning ratings.
„« Error of projection: An error in rating, which occurs when raters are inclined to allow their own personal characteristics or values to affect the ratings they assign.
„« Error of recency: Occurs when raters assign a rating based on the individual¡¦s short-term versus long-term job performance.
„« Error of standards: Occurs when a rating is assigned based on impracticable standards established by the rater.
„« Errors and omissions insurance: An insurance policy providing businesses with coverage and protection against potential lawsuits from clients or customers.
„« Essay appraisal: An appraisal strategy requiring the rater to provide a narrative description of an individual¡¦s performance based on the rater¡¦s performance observations.
„« Essential functions: The primary job functions or tasks that an individual must be able to perform with or without a reasonable accommodation.
„« Ethical Leadership: Broadly defined, as the demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships, and promotion of such conduct among followers through two-way communication, reinforcement, and decision-making processes (M.E Brown and L.K. Trevino, Measures for Leadership Development Ethical Leadership Scale)
„« Ethics: A philosophy principle concerned with opinions about appropriate and inappropriate moral conduct or behavior by an individual or social group.
„« Ethnic categories: A grouping of individuals who are of the following decent: American Indian or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African American; Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and White.
„« Executive compensation: Compensation packages specifically designed for executive-level employees that include items such as base salary, bonuses, perquisites and other personal benefits, stock options and other related compensation and benefit provisions.
„« Executive development: Training and educational programs designed to increase performance and further the development of leadership skills for executive and senior-level managerial employees.
„« Executive Order: An official presidential directive that has the same force as a law.
„« Executive Order 11246 of 1965: Administered and enforced by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors, who do over $10,000 in government business in one year, from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Executive Order also requires government contractors to take affirmative action to ensure that equal opportunity is provided in all aspects of their employment.
„« Executive outplacement: A program designed to provide displaced senior-level managerial and professional employees with career management and transition services that go above and beyond what is typically offered through a customary outplacement program.
„« Executive retreat: A team building and development approach designed for executive-level managers; conducted off-site and typically lasts from a few days to a week.
„« Executive search firm: An agency or organization used by employers to assist them with the selection and placement of candidates for senior-level managerial or professional positions.
„« Exempt employees: Employees who meet one of the FLSA exemption tests and who are paid on a fixed salary basis and not entitled to overtime.
„« Exit interview: An interview conducted at the time of an employee¡¦s resignation, used to identify the underlying factors behind an employee¡