Understanding human resources terms can help you understand your company better. How many of these HR terms and concepts are you already familiar with?
Learn About These Important Human Resources Terms
HR terms are terms that HR professionals may use to discuss important elements of a job with an individual or with the company as a whole. If you’re interested in learning more about HR terms, here are a few common HR terms to know.
HR Term Glossary
Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
An automated system that sorts through job applicants’ resumes and cover letters before sending them to a hiring manager. Learn more about ATS resumes at ResumeNerd.
A general search for any criminal background that you might go through before receiving a job offer.
Benefits administration/Job Perks
Specific benefits that you receive in exchange for being an employee, including health insurance, paid time off (PTO), and family leave.
The general path of your work life. This includes both past jobs and future jobs you want to hold.
Skills that let you perform a specific task as part of a job. You may get certifications for these skills.
A concept that encompasses whether employees take pride in their jobs. Low employee engagement may correlate with lower job performance overall.
A measurement that indicates whether an employee is doing a good job completing their job duties.
Employment law: Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO/EEOC), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Specific legal restrictions on talent management. These restrictions may prevent an employer from discriminating against otherwise-eligible individuals based on elements like race, sex, nationality, and disability.
An interview that an HR manager will do when someone decides to leave a job, typically to see what they thought of the job while they were there.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Legal standards that regulate elements of a job like minimum wage, overtime requirements, recordkeeping needs, and age of employment requirements.
A specific amount of employment, typically at least 40 hours a week for full-time employees and 20 hours a week for part-time employees. You may be eligible for fewer benefits as a part-time employee than a full-time employee.
Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)
A calculation that helps organizations determine complex understandings of working hours. This is most important for legal standards.
Human Capital Management (HCM)
The general process of staffing and productivity management. It manages people like you would manage anything else in a business.
Human Resource Information System (HRIS)/ Human Resource Management System (HRM)
Specific software products that help an employer with the human resources process.
A generalized description of both job duties and job requirements. As a job applicant, you may write one using a resume builder.
A legal standard regarding the smallest amount of money a company may pay you to work in a specific country, state, or city.
A situation where a person engages in inappropriate conduct. More serious inappropriate conduct may be deemed gross misconduct.
New employee/New hire
Anyone who has newly joined an organization. Different organizations may have different definitions of “New.”
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
The main regulatory agency in the U.S. that publishes workplace safety regulations.
Training and development that new hires go through to acclimate to the company culture and standards.
A process to ensure that all organizational initiatives are met companywide.
Performance review/Performance appraisal
Any experience where managers look at your performance and ensure it’s up to certain standards, as well as potentially giving you feedback.
Individuals who stay with a company. This is typically split into two categories: employee retention, which describes new hires who remain at a company, and customer retention, which describes customers who continue to buy from a company.
Executive processes limit the amount of risk a company takes on.
Time that employees utilize to stay home when sick.
Businesses that have fewer employees or make less money than very large companies in their industry. This may be a colloquial term or a legal one.
Social Security (SS)
A U.S. federal program intended to provide for elderly and disabled individuals. It pays out a stipend of money monthly to these people.
Preparatory planning for ensuring someone is prepared to assume critical roles in a company in case those roles become vacant.
The physical conditions and setting for any place where you work.
An official program from the U.S. Department of Labor manages individuals who experience injuries at work.
A general term to describe both the physical and mental conditions of any work environment.
FAQ: HR Terms
It’s always a good idea to learn as much as you can when performing a job search. However, you don’t need to have a perfectly memorized list of these terms in your head unless you’re entering a career as a human resources professional. From this list of terms, pay particular attention to employee benefits, which are an important part of accepting a new job offer.
Some terms like “workers’ compensation” are regulated by federal law while other terms like “key performance indicators” will be different depending on the company. You just need to learn the general definition of each term and research further to see how your coworkers or human resources team members will use the term.
If you ever have concerns over how a term might be used at a specific company, just ask. Most of the time, an HR manager will be more than happy to explain what the term means and how your company uses the term.