Human Resources Glossary - A

Absence Management

Employee absences due to illness or injury affect the company. Return-to-work plans that specify any necessary job adjustments and instructions to manage those effects are frequently made. By making information on health programs easily accessible and available from anywhere, HR can assist employees. Additionally, organizations can track and report various forms of employee leave using a time management system to help identify absence patterns that need to be controlled.


An employee frequently fails to report to work at the appointed hour, which is known as absenteeism. Both full-time employees and shift workers can be guilty of this and it is  usually ad hoc and without good cause. Even if it is common to leave work occasionally due to illness or an emergency, absenteeism becomes a problem when it occurs frequently and affects more than just one employee.

Absenteeism Policy

A set of rules and processes called an absenteeism policy is intended to lower the number of days employees miss work. The acceptable reasons why an employee might miss work, such as illness, injury, or scheduled time off, may be outlined in the employee attendance policy and process. The absenteeism policy also outlines what to do if a worker misses too many work days over what is permitted. The ideal policy will motivate staff to reduce absences while still being fair and considering the realities of illness, vacations, doctor visits, and other events.

ACA (Affordable Care Act)

HR professionals frequently refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as the ACA (Affordable Care Act). The Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, was passed by the 111th Congress and became law in March 2010.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which aims to provide healthcare coverage to more Americans, changed how benefits are administered through new rules, sanctions, and fines.

These consist of the following:

  • New requirements for health plans to be considered ACA-compliant insurance

  • A personal mandate obliging all Americans to provide proof of health insurance or pay a tax penalty

  • New criteria for establishing who is regarded as a full-time employee for the purposes of specific mandates

  • The requirement that companies with at least 50 employees provide health insurance

  • The development of marketplaces for health insurance

  • Subsidies on premiums and cost-sharing for Americans with lower incomes

  • Medicaid program expansion in numerous US states

Issues with ACA compliance make managing medical coverage more difficult. For employees to make the best decision for their health and financial circumstances during the open enrollment, HR professionals need to explain how the ACA affects their benefit options.


The practice of making workplaces, communication methods, and job responsibilities accessible to people with disabilities is known as accessibility. Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities following the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. In addition, customer interactions must also take accessibility into account.

Accruals (Leave)

Many companies use paid time off accrual to give their employees paid time off, also known as PTO. This time can be applied to sick days, vacations, or personal time (though some businesses offer sick days as a separate benefit).

Employers frequently provide their employees the choice of cashing out excess vacation time, having a specific amount of time off carry over to the following year, or combining both options. As an alternative, businesses can implement a “use it or lose it” policy that would cause previously accrued vacation time to expire to motivate workers to take time off.

The employer may need to cash out any unused accruals from an employee’s final pay when they depart the company. However, employers are not required to pay out time off that wasn’t earned or gained another way.

Action Item

A specific task that needs to be completed, typically by a single person or a small team or group, is called an action item. Meetings usually result in action items, which should always be well-documented.

Actual Deferred Percentage (ADP)

Employees defer the percentage of income under a 401(k) retirement plan as the actual deferred percentage (ADP).

The ADP of an employer aids in ensuring that employee 401(k) benefits adhere to ERISA and IRS regulations that prohibit discrimination against lower-paid employees or in favor of higher-earning employees.

Traditional 401(k) plans, according to the IRS, must “ensure that the contributions made by and for rank-and-file employees [NHCEs] are equal to contributions made for owners and managers [HCEs].”

Adam’s Equity Theory

Equity theory aims to explain why employees’ views on what is just, fair, and appropriate at work are essential for organizational success. In the 1960s, John Stacey Adams created this.

According to Adams’ Equity Theory, people are driven to work quite hard by two things in particular:

  • Their salary (which must be equitable in the first place)
  • Their estimation of their compensation in comparison to others

The fact that equity in this situation is based on perception rather than truth is what matters most.

Adaptive Device

An adaptive device is a tool that helps a person with a disability or impairment carry out everyday tasks, including eating, typing, walking, reading, or driving. A hearing aid is an example of a purpose-built adaptive device, whereas a loudspeaker may or may not be regarded as an assistive device, depending on how it is used. Adaptive devices, also known as assistive, assistive technology, or adaptive equipment, differ from assistive devices in that they are created specifically for use by people with disabilities. Similar to this, spelling and grammar checkers may be helpful for almost everyone, including seasoned writers; however, if they are created to aid those who struggle with dyslexia in writing more smoothly, they are considered adaptive technology.

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a strategy for handling challenging corporate situations. It was developed by Harvard University professors Marty Linsky and Ron Heifetz. The adaptive leadership framework contains a set of skills and tools to support leaders in focusing on the fundamental, crucial forces underlying change. It was created to assist businesses in remaining resilient in trying times.

Four crucial components form the foundation of adaptive leadership:

  • Emotional quotient

  • Administrative justice

  • Development

  • Character

Once these are recognized, leaders may use them to address underlying problems and promote the success of organizations and individuals.


Trainers and other instructors utilize the instructional design model known as the ADDIE. Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate are its five crucial steps.

Professionals have used the ADDIE Instructional Construct (ID) paradigm to plan and design training programs since it was created in the 1970s.

Administrative Services Only (ASO)

Employers who contract with a third party to manage specific employee health benefits sometimes use a business structure called Administrative Services Only (ASO). This is because the provider does not provide the benefit itself; only administrative services.

Employers who self-fund employee health benefits rather than providing workers with health insurance do so by using administrative services exclusively. These employers operate the program and handle claim processing by hiring a third-party administrator, frequently an insurance provider, at their own expense.

Advanced Earned Income Credit

Employees who filed form W-5, Earned Income Credit Advance Payment Certificate, are eligible for an early award of the Earned Income Credit.

After filing their tax return, eligible employees get their Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC/EITC) from the federal government. The Advance Earned Income Credit gave workers a method to get a portion of the credit through their paychecks in advance. Federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes withheld from an employee’s salary would be used by employers to pay these credits.

Adverse Impact

An adverse impact is a frequently invisible yet harmful result of a hiring policy or practice. Most often, negative influence is discovered in procedures and standards that guide hiring or performance decisions, such as:

  • A job description’s list of qualifications

  • Inquiries asked during job interviews

  • Performance evaluations for promotion or termination

Affiliative Leadership

According to Daniel Goleman’s theories on leadership, affiliative leadership is built on putting people first. In addition, the affiliative leadership style relies on adaptability and the ability to foster teamwork rather than encourage competition.

According to Goleman’s theory, the reciprocity rule is one that this approach perfectly complies with. You feel obligated to treat others well when they treat you well. In essence, a happy workplace atmosphere improves overall employee performance.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action is the practice of considering job applicants of various races, creeds, colors, and national origins while deciding whether to hire them. Affirmative action policies are proactive ways to promote equality now while making up for historical injustices. Several nations have enacted similar affirmative action policies to encourage inclusivity.

Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)

Affirmative action plans (AAPs) describe how federal contractors and subcontractors work to offer equitable employment opportunities and typically encourage the growth of all staff members, regardless of gender, color, disability, or veteran status. According to federal rules, AAPs should be reviewed and updated at least once each year.

After-Tax Deduction

An amount is deducted from taxpayers’ wages after taxes (federal, state, and local income taxes, Social Security, and Medicare) are withheld. This is known as an after-tax deduction or post-tax deduction. State-specific after-tax deductions may include the following:

  • Roth donations to 401(k)s

  • Pension plans supported by employers

  • 529 education savings programs

  • Union fees

  • Disability and several types of life insurance

  • Contributions to charities


Ageism uses stereotypes, prejudice, or discrimination against individuals or groups based on their age. Ageism can affect persons of any age, but it most frequently affects older people, particularly in the workplace.

Old-fashioned presumptions and persistent stereotypes about older workers are the foundation for ageism in the workplace. For instance, it is sometimes believed that elderly workers are too challenging to train and incapable of keeping up with the daily demands of a profession. In addition, people with ageist views usually downplay the importance of elderly workers’ depth and breadth of expertise.

Agile Organization

An agile organization framework is a combination of techniques and strategies that aids firms in overcoming many of the problems that contemporary society presents to traditional company structures. Agile organizations differ from traditional organizations in terms of organizational structure, responsibility allocation, and technology use.

Agile Working

Agile working uses decentralized work processes in which firms give employees the freedom and accountability to succeed with the least amount of restraint possible. Agile work is a more freeform approach that is not constrained by time, space, cooperation, or even role. Agile work is not determined by physical spaces or the traditional definition of “workplace.”

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a method of resolving a quarrel, lawsuit, or dispute outside of court. The parties in dispute instead decide to engage in an ADR procedure like mediation or arbitration.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 is a section of US law that upholds disabled people’s rights to housing, work, education, communication, transit, and other public and private services. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which went into effect on January 1, 2009, also made changes to it.

Annual Leave

A period of paid time off (PTO), known as annual leave, is one that employers give to their staff. Employees are free to spend their yearly leave in any way they choose, whether it be on vacation or simply unwinding at home. An employment contract will generally specify when leave is permitted.

Annualized Salary

An annualized salary is a fixed sum of gross compensation distributed to an employee over a year, giving rise to an estimated yearly income.


An annuity is a long-term agreement with an insurance provider that assures the worker a consistent income stream at a future time, usually after retirement.

Applicant Flow Log

The US federal government keeps track of job applicant data in an applicant flow log, which is then used for statistical analysis. It can be controlled in an applicant tracking system or as a spreadsheet. This record-keeping is done to assess the fairness and inclusivity of the federal government’s hiring practices. Additionally, it assists the federal government in identifying potential obstacles to fair and inclusive hiring.

Applicant Screening

A technique known as applicant screening is used to evaluate a job applicant’s credentials and possible fit for the position to which they have applied. Various components, such as job screening questions included in the employment application, may be part of the process.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

A sort of recruiting software called an applicant tracking system (ATS), also known as a talent management system, aids in streamlining the entire hiring process for an organization. Typical duties include keeping applicant information, posting job openings on several job boards, and screening resumes for prospective matches. An ATS may also enable recruiters to remark on and score candidates in a single database to make it simple for everyone engaged in the hiring process to work together.

Assessment Center

A sophisticated assessment process is used in an assessment center to rate or evaluate job applicants. It alludes to a technique for determining if a candidate is qualified for a particular position. Recruiting days, selection seminars, selection procedures, and testing procedures are other names for assessment centers.

At-Will Employment

At-will employment indicates that “an employer may terminate an employee at any time for any cause, except for an illegal reason” or that a person may be fired without a court order holding the employer responsible.

A job is considered at-will if the employer can alter the conditions of employment without giving prior warning or facing repercussions. In essence, a company is free to change its employees’ pay, perks, and call-in hours at any moment. An employment contract that details the employer’s hiring and firing policies can change the at-will employment provision.

Additionally, “an employee is free to leave a job at any moment for any reason or no reason” without worrying about potential legal repercussions is referred to as “at-will employment.”


Attrition is most commonly defined in business as diminishing the size of a workforce intentionally by not replacing workers when they leave of their own volition (employee attrition). Attrition, nevertheless, can also mean something else. For example, when existing customers leave a firm and are not replaced by as many new ones, the phrase can allude to the client base of that business decreasing (customer attrition).

Attrition Rate

The pace at which employees depart a company is known as its attrition rate. It is also sometimes called a “churn rate.”

Automated Clearing House (ACH)

An electronic network called an Automated Clearing House (ACH) is responsible for overseeing online banking transactions. The ACH network allows any entity (company, government agency, or person) to send or receive money. For example, employers frequently use direct deposits to pay their employees.

Awards and Prizes

Awards and prizes are financial and non-cash rewards provided to employees in HR and Payroll for actions they have taken (recognition) or actions they may take in the future (incentivization).