Every industry has its own language. Specific words, abbreviations or sayings...what seems very logic for a experienced HR manager might not be for everyone else. So, let us help you to better understand our HR experts. 


Here below you find a wide range of HR expressions which are commonly used in our environments. We explain every term as simple and short as possible. This list is never complete but we try to cover the most used definitions.  


What is an Assessment center?

An assessment center is an organized set of exercises to assess a candidate’s skills and capabilities for a certain job, or in general. The specific tests and exercises can vary, but usually they measure analytical skills, oral presentation skills, and the ability to differentiate quickly and correctly between what is important and what is not.

What is a Performance review?

A performance review – also called performance appraisal - is a periodic review of an employee’s performance, with the aim to reward good work and motivate them. It looks at elements such as skills and achievements, and their contribution to the organization.

What is a Professional development plan?

A professional development plan is a plan set up between employer and employee to enhance the employee's professional development by means of training, education, and other learning techniques, among others.

What is a Psychometric test?

A psychometric test is a scientific method to analyze a potential employee’s behavioral aspects. The aim is to check if this person is suited for a job opening, based on their personality and ability. 

What is a Reference check?

By means of a reference check, employers check for exaggerations or lies in a job application. They contact the prospect’s personal references to make sure the candidate is honest and qualified for the job opening. 

What is a Skills audit?

A skills audit is used to assess an employee’s capabilities in relation to their overall role in the organization. It is most often realized by means of a self-guided survey, a questionnaire, or an interview.

What is Self-appraisal?

Self-appraisal implies asking an employee to reflect on and assess their own job performance over a certain period. A self-appraisal is conducted to put an employee in charge of their own professional development.

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is a way to measure the performance of a person, a team, or an organization by using specific metrics. In HR, benchmarking is often used to compare individuals’ performances, to see whether improvements have occurred or may be needed.

What is Competency?

Competency is a set of demonstrable characteristics and skills that - together - can enable and improve a person’s efficiency and performance in their job. Whereas skills are learned, competencies are intrinsic qualities. Within HR, one typically speaks about behavioral, technical and leadership competencies. 

What is Employee satisfaction?

Employee satisfaction is the extent to which an employee is happy with their job, function and salary. 


What is Job rotation?

Job rotation is the movement of employees to different jobs or roles. Its aim is to enrich an employee’s skills and experiences. Furthermore, job rotation creates awareness about types of jobs.

What is outplacement?

Outplacement is the process of offering employees exiting the organization one-on-one sessions, group coaching sessions or multiple sessions in order to facilitate the finding of a new job. Outplacement is offered to help the leaving employee strengthen his/her potential on the labor market.

What is a Referral program?

A referral program is part of a recruitment strategy in which the employees help find new employees by referring to their own job. 

What is a Sabbatical leave?

During a sabbatical leave, an employee takes a long break from work to focus on their own life. The employee remains employed with the company, but the absence can both be paid and unpaid.

What is a Talent pool?

A talent pool is a collection of potential candidates that help an organization grow and achieve its long-term goals. It is built and maintained by recruiters and has the form of a database. This pool can be seen as a talent reservoir.

What is Talent acquisition?

Talent acquisition is the process of identifying and acquiring the talents needed to meet an organization’s needs. Its elements are employer branding, future resource planning, labor force diversification, and the development of a robust candidate pipeline.

What is Digital talent acquisition?

Digital talent acquisition is the use of digital ways to identify and acquire talent. It mostly focuses on search engine marketing, the use of job boards, social media, and mobile apps. 

What is a Career path?

A career path is a chronological series of jobs done by an individual. It mostly consists of a group of related jobs, generally implying vertical growth or advancement to higher-level positions. But a career path can also include lateral movements or even down steps within or across sectors.

What is a Confidentiality agreement?

A confidentiality agreement is an agreement between employer and employee in which the employee may not disclose branded, patented, or other confidential information from the employer. A confidentiality agreement legally protects information so as to prevent the brand’s devastation and safeguard the organization’s welfare.


What is Employer branding?

Employer branding is the process of creating and safeguarding a company’s brand and its values, in order to increase its reputation and popularity among potential and current employees.

What is an Employee referral program?

An employee referral program is a procedure where existing employees refer potential candidates for open positions. The advantage is that existing employees can speak firsthand about the company and its culture, making employee referral programs a powerful recruitment tool. 

What is a Retention strategy?

A retention strategy is a corporate policy aiming at reducing employee turnover. It tries to keep employees engaged and productive in the long term. 


What is Employee retention?

Employee retention is a set of policies and practices to make employees stick to the organization for a longer period. Employee retention considers various measures to facilitate employees staying as long as possible. 

What is a Notice period?

A notice period is a period an employee must keep working after having given notice. Its aim is to reduce stress for both employer and employee, by making the transition to a new employee/employer easier. The duration may differ per country and per employer.

What is an Onboarding process?

During the onboarding process, an organization takes time to familiarize a new employee with its policies, employees and culture. The aim is to make the employee feel comfortable in their new role and freely interact with new colleagues. Also, onboarding deals with the necessary paperwork and other practicalities.

What is a Probation period?

A probation period is a defined period wherein a new employee is exempt from certain contractual terms, such as the notice period. The aim is to see for both employee and employer if there is a good fit. If not, the contract can be terminated. Probation periods can take from 3 months to a year.

What is Unpaid leave?

Unpaid leave is a way in which employers can offer dedicated staff members time off when paid leave is exhausted, showing them their goodwill. It is an opportunity for employees to take some time off in unexpected circumstances.

What is Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a training program for people who want to be recognized in a specific trade or craft. The apprentice learns these skills by carrying out common tasks during a limited period. Different from classroom learning, an apprenticeship is mostly paid. 

What is an Employee lifecycle?

An employee lifecycle is a model used to identify and express the six most important stages an employee goes through during their stay with an organization: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, separation.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the systematic integration of new employees into an organization’s culture and business operations. It is also a method to help speed up the time for a new employee to do the job and do it well, while feeling part of the organization.

What is an Exit interview?

When an employee leaves the organization, they can agree to give an exit interview. The purpose is to give feedback on why the employee is leaving, and where the organization may need improvement as an employer.

What is a Matrix organization?

In a matrix organization, employees both work in traditional departments as well as in cross-departmental teams. They typically report to two superiors: their departmental head and the project leader. 

What is an Internship?

An internship is a program offered by an employer providing work experience to potential employees. Internship typically aims at students who work for a limited period in a company, enabling them to gain practical on-the-job experience.  

5. ESG

What is Equal opportunity policy?

An equal opportunity policy is a company’s formal document outlining the commitment for fair treatment of all employees, regardless elements such as age, sex, race, disability, religion, gender etc. 

What is a Toxic work environment?

In a toxic work environment, negative and/or bullying behavior is baked into the very culture. People are rewarded for unethical, harmful or nasty attitudes and actions, causing stressed employees and limited communication. 


What is an Absenteeism policy?

An absenteeism policy is a set of guidelines about attendance requirements and scheduled and unscheduled time off. It describes the acceptable reasons for an employee to miss work, as well as the measures to be taken in case of absenteeism or tardiness. Its aim is to reduce the number of missed workdays.

What is Appraisal?

Appraisal is a method of assessing something or someone through a conversation. In HR, it is a formal opportunity to analyze somebody’s performance at work, and to openly discuss further career plans and opportunities. Appraisals can also be used to evaluate salary increases and bonuses. After the talk, they are usually written down.

What is a Performance review?

A performance review rewards the good work of an employee. It is meant to motivate them to keep it up. Often, performance reviews are used to provide bonuses and premiums. 

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a system of guidance whereby an experienced mentor shares their knowledge, skills and experience with a junior employee. It helps to motivate and empower the mentee to identify their own issues and goals, and to reach them by the help of the mentor.

What is a Psychometric test?

A psychometric test is a scientifically proved test to analyze people’s behavior, with the aim to investigate whether a candidate is suited for a job. A psychometric test checks elements such as personality, skills, and behavior. The outcome is a measure of which the candidate is suited for the job opening.


What is Agile working?

Agile working is a method that facilitates responsiveness and adaptiveness to workforce fluctuations. It stimulates flexibility in matching workforces to changing demands. In agile working, the focus shifts from control and alignment towards an agile, dynamic, and flexible focus on speed and responsiveness. 

What is Hybrid recruitment?

Hybrid recruitment is an approach to recruiting employees by a blend of in-person and online techniques. Hybrid recruitment can encompass the full range of recruitment, such as placing job ads, receiving candidates, and communicating with stakeholders. Today, ever more steps in the recruitment process are held online. 

What is a Home office policy?

A home office policy is an organization’s policy that allows employees to work from home or any other place outside the organization’s premises. This policy can differentiate between fulltime, alternating/hybrid or mobile. Home officing requires an overall company approach that makes work more flexible. 

What are Cross-functional teams?

A cross-functional team consists of people from different functional areas in the organization. For example: a team with people from marketing, product, sales and customer success. It can be a working group where each member remains in their own team, or simply the primary working structure of an entire organization.

What is the Gig economy?

A gig economy is an economy that heavily relies on freelancers and independent contractors, rather than on its own employees. In a gig economy, temporary positions and flexible jobs become more and more common. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the gig economy is growing at a rapid pace. 


What is HR analytics?

HR analytics is a field of analytics within the HR department, aiming at improving employee performance. It does more than just collect HR data. HR analytics provide an understanding of each HR process, enabling steps to be taken to improve them. 

What is Data protection policy?

A data protection policy sets out how on organization protects data from its employees. It is an internal set of rules, principles and guidelines made to protect personal data and ensure compliance with data protection legislation. 

What is GDPR?

GDPR is the acronym for General Data Protection Regulation, a strict legislation designed by the European Union to protect the data and privacy of individuals. Companies must respect GDPR when communicating with individuals and storing their data. 

What is Retention rate?

A retention rate is a measure indicating to what extent employees stay in the company. The longer employees stay in the company, the higher the retention rate. 


What is an Applicant tracking system? (What is an ATS)?

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software tool for hiring systems that aim at streamlining the entire recruitment process, from receiving applications to hiring employees. An ATS helps organizations move seamlessly through all stages of hiring. It improves both the efficiency and the quality of the recruitment process, both for the employer and the candidate.

What is Cloud software?

Cloud software – often referred to as SaaS (software as a service) – is (HR) software that is not bought but subscribed to. The price for HR cloud software depends on the number of employees to be managed. 

What is Workforce planning?

Workforce planning is the continuous process of analyzing the needs of an organization when it comes to size, type, experience and knowledge needed to reach its goals and objectives. Workforce planning is used in advance when hiring new people, considering the order in which roles must be filled. 

What is Enterprise resource planning (ERP)?

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a software tool that allows companies to manage and analyze key business information and metrics. It covers all units in a company, such as sales, finance, accounting, manufacturing, and HR. ERP helps companies make better decisions based on real-time information. Mostly, all data in the ERP system are stored in a central, powerful database. 

What is a Job board?

A job board is a website that provides up-to-date listings of job openings. Companies pay the job board to have their vacancies listed on the website. Some operate globally, like Stepstone and Monster, some have a local approach. 

What are Key performance indicators (KPI’s)?

Key performance indicators (KPI’s) are measurable parameters that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving its key objectives. In HR, KPI’s are used to measure the overall performance of different HR aspects and processes. 


What is an HR Business partner?

An HR business partner is an HR professional working closely with the senior leadership of an organization and with specific line managers to develop an HR strategy. They are often responsible for the recruitment of people for the departments they support. 

What is an HR generalist?

An HR generalist is an HR professional overseeing the HR responsibilities and activities in an organization. The HR generalist manages recruitment processes, employee relations, regulatory compliance, and training and development. 

11. L&D

What is Learning and development? What is L&D?

Learning and Development (L&D) is an element of HR that focuses on the improvement of group and individual performances by increasing skills, attitudes and knowledge. L&D is an integral part of an organization’s talent management strategy. 

What is Upskilling training?

Upskilling training is a form of training that helps employees enhance or introduce new skills through courses, mentorship or hands-on learning. 

What is a Learning management system (LMS)?

A learning management system (LMS) is a platform for training and educating employees. It contains content delivery and tools to manage, track and report the effectiveness of training initiatives.

What is a Skill gap?

A skill gap is a difference between the skills required for a job and the ones an employee actually has. L&D can help in bridging this gap.

What is a training needs analysis?

A training need analysis is a process to identify training and development needs of an organization’s employees so they can do their job effectively. 


What is Employment law?

Employment law is a set of (country specific) laws and other legal considerations governing the relationship between employees and their employers. For employers, it prescribes what they can ask of employees, what they are entitled to provide, and what the employees’ official rights are. 

What is Maternity leave?

Maternity leave is a type of employee leave taken during the pregnancy and birth-giving period.

What is a Labor union?

A labor union (or trade union, workers’ union) is an organization that looks after the collective interests of employees. It represents them in negotiations on wages, benefits, working hours and other collective working conditions.

Non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

A non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement (NDA) is a contract restricting the sharing of information, often confidential or proprietary. Within HR, it is mostly used as a contract between employer and employee to make sure no confidential information is leaked during or after the duration of the collaboration. 


What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is both the qualitative and quantitative measurement of the overall happiness, satisfaction, and well-being of employees, i.e. how passionate people feel about their work.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience is a collection of experiences of an employee with their organization. Employee experience can include impressions, emotions, and more. Employee experience is about how an employee feels at work.


What is an Employee value proposition (EVP)?

The employee value proposition (EVP) is a set of offerings provided in return for skills, capabilities and experiences. It is used as a key driver in attracting, engaging and retaining talent. Basically, it is the balance between all rewards and benefits offered to an employee and their performance. 

What is Internal recruitment?

Internal recruitment is the recruitment of employees from within the organization. 

What is E-recruitment?

E-recruitment is a method that uses web-based technology for various recruiting processes, such as attracting, assessing, selecting, signing up and onboarding candidates. It has the advantage of reaching larger numbers of potential candidates and is closely related to digital talent acquisition.


What is a Bonus?

A bonus is a financial reward that goes on top of an employee’s normal paycheck. It can be awarded to people at all levels in the organization and is used to incentivize employees and even shareholders, linked to achieving preset milestones. Often, a bonus system is emphasized to attract new employees.

What are Fringe benefits?

Fringe benefits are the collection of all non-financial compensations provided by an employer. Examples include extra vacation, employee stock option plans, flexible working arrangements and additional leave. 

What is a Remuneration package?

The remuneration package is the total amount of money and other types of compensation an employee receives for their work. It typically consists of a basic salary, bonuses, and sometimes commissions. 

What is Deferred compensation?

Deferred compensation is a part of the salary that has been set aside to be paid later than the rest of the salary. It is a popular practice, as the employee can waive a certain amount of taxes, and the employer can use it to retain important key employees.

What is incentive pay?

Incentive pay is extra pay or other forms of compensation and bonuses given to employees for going above and beyond their normal duties. Hence, a way to incentivize people to continue doing excellent work. A typical example is a cash bonus at the end of the year, or commissions given to salespeople. 

What is Payroll?

Payroll is the total of all compensations paid to employees during a given period. It is mostly outsourced to specialized companies. Also, payroll can refer to the list of employees and their compensation.

What is a Sabbatical leave?

A sabbatical leave is a prolonged absence from work, enabling employees to achieve personal goals. A sabbatical may or may not be paid for. Typical reasons for people to take a sabbatical include pursuing studies, writing books, personal quality time and better work-life balance.

What is Total compensation?

Total compensation is the total of all forms of financial payments to an employee. It consists of the basic salary and extra compensation. 

What is Variable pay?

Variable pay is the part of the salary that is based on an employee’s performance. It is provided as a bonus, an incentive, or a commission.


What is a Burnout?

Burnout is a specific type of workplace stress, where employees feel general dissatisfaction with their work and suffer from multiple levels of exhaustion, such as mental, physical, and emotional.

What is Mindfulness at work?

Mindfulness at work refers to a mental state of consciousness at work. Companies can provide courses to employees to learn to be present in the moment and be aware of what is happening inside and outside.

What is Work-life balance?

Work-life balance is the balance between the personal and professional activities of employees. It looks at how activities related to work are present in one’s private life.

What is a Wellness program?

A wellness program is a set of initiatives that maintain or enhance the well-being of employees. It consists of elements such as stress management and illness prevention, fitness offerings and other plans to increase their overall physical and mental health.