HR Terms and Definitions Personified

HR Terminology – HR Terms and definitions that have become a part of the daily workplace dictionary. Let us understand the real meaning behind the many corporate lingos that have become the part of our daily lives.

Equal opportunity:

Requirement that workplaces be free from discrimination i.e. giving all individuals a fair chance to succeed regardless of characteristics that are unrelated to the job (e.g. age, sex).

Coaching OR Mentoring:

Coaching is ‘task-oriented’in which a coach helps a coachee think strategically by developing current skills and helping him/her acquire new ones. The duration of coaching is relatively shorter, which means that a coach’s requirement ends when the required skills are developed. Mentoring, on the other hand, is more ‘relational’wherein the mentor shares her/his experiences (personal and professional) with the mentee. She/he helps provide guidance by helping the mentee to clear doubts related to professional or personal growth.

hr terms and definitions, hr terminology list

Constructive Dismissal:

Employer has manipulated the employment situation so that the employee feels they have no option but to resign.


Under the garb of ‘empowerment’, the management pushes the transactional level of decision-making to the lower levels while keeping a tight control as far as key decisions are concerned (this is incorrect). Empowerment, in its true sense, is a bottoms-up approach wherein the decisionmaking authority resides with the junior employees and isn’t hierarchy-driven.

Look at the Big Picture:

We always use this term quite freely, but it implies that one should never take a call without taking all the factors into consideration – this helps take better informed decisions.This can happen when all departments are coached to think of ‘macro’goals in addition to thinking about their own ‘micro’ones, so that it results in better productivity/revenues.

Part-time Employee:

Adding to the list of HR terms is part- time employee. This means that the Employment is on a regular basis for less than the usual hours per week worked in the relevant industry.

Working in Silos:

‘Silos’is a very specific term used in the cement/grain industry and are large structures that are used for storing different products. In an organisation, it implies that we work in different departments (read: silos) who are busy with their own KRAs instead of fostering a cross-functional way of working wherein all work towards one goal.


It is the process of an individual returning to the home country (India in our case) after being placed on a long-term international assignment. However, it is more often than not perceived to be a complicated arrangement of a foreign national relocating to India (read: modified expatriate), which is a misinterpretation.

Affirmative Action:

Requirement that employers develop and implement programs to eliminate discrimination against women and members of minority groups, and promote equal opportunity in regard to recruitment, promotion and transfer, training and development and conditions of service.

Emotional Intelligence (EI):

Someone with a ‘low’ EI is typically construed to be the one who is ‘emotionally weak’ or at times, EI is used interchangeably for IQ. EI as defined by Daniel Goldman is “the capacity for recognising our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”. So even if you are able to control your emotions, but your behaviour elicits undesired responses from others, you can be low on EI.

Change Management:

In today’s business environment, this term means to the employee population that they are expected to be uncomfortable all the time. For HR, the term relates to the organisation’s ability to create an environment where dealing with the ‘new and different’is not a challenge, but rather is seen as a contributing factor to growth and success.


When employees hear the term, I think that they believe that it is a way to hold them to an unachievable standard of delivery based on a study of the market. In its purest form, benchmarking refers to a company’s comparison of its policies, practices, and results to outstanding competitors’in their same industry to determine if their operations and practices reflect those that will lead to outstanding results. In the case of compensation, it refers to looking at an organisation’s salary structures in comparison to other market players.

Work-Life Balance:

Work-life balance is not a tight-rope walk between office commitments and home demands. In fact, it is about understanding your priorities, both at a personal and professional level.You could work 80 hours a week and still make time to pursue highly fulfiling hobbies.Work-life balance is about making time for what you think is important and this has no relation to how many hours you work in a week.

Employee Engagement:

Employers spend an enormous amount of money on ‘fun’activities and still find low engagement scores. Little do they realise that an employee who is positively charged and sees the value in working with an employer, is not because of the one-odd social event the company organises, but because of the innumerable positive ‘events’the company offers each day. Employee engagement is a function of a well-defined job role, good learning opportunities, exciting growth avenues and a competitive pay.

Author Credits:

Viren Naidu – The Times of India

Aseem Kapoor – GM Hyatt Regency Mumbai

Dr. Snehal Shah – Program Chair of HR leadership Program, SOIL.

Anuranjita Kumar – Country HR officer, Citi India.

Divakar Kaza – President – HR Lupin

Nina E. Woodard – SPHR, GPHRPresident & Chief “N” Sights Officer, Nina E.Woodard & Associates.

Amit Bhagria
This Aint Your Daddy’s HR Do I have your attention? Good, because we are in the mist of an HR revolution. It’s either join up, or be left in the dust. What do I mean by this? Well, gone are the days of Human Resources representing the company’s interests solely. The new age HR Manager is an inclusive individual, serving the collective needs of both employer and employee. In the new “collaborative” workplace, an HR Manager wears many more hats than in years past. It can be debated as to whether this is a result of a disgruntled workforce staging a collective mutiny, or the evolution of HR professionals. Either way, the time has come. Join me on the other side. Subscribe to my Newsletter to get updates from the world of Human Resource Management.
Amit Bhagria
Amit Bhagria
Amit Bhagria


  1. says

    Dear Sir,

    i have a interview at bank in soon,, if it is possible for you please answerd me that what is meaning of HR FUNCTION duty……( i’m also work in hr department last 3 yers but give me the axetly answerd……….


  2. marrah atolba says

    Thank you very much Sir for the info! The terminologies will help me a lot. These words will be surely on my desk asking of more understanding. And as a future HR practitioner, reading articles like this is a good start and refreshment. Thanks for the information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *