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2 August 2021

Glossary of terms

Here’s a glossary of terms to keep you in the know with your career and training development.


Absenteeism policy

In-house policies for attendance, including planned and unplanned leave, discipline related to non-attendance, and expectations for aggregate attendance at work.


Discriminatory behaviour against employees or other stakeholders on the basis of their age. This is contrary to Australian anti-discrimination legislation.

Annual leave

A period of paid time off or holidays, most commonly accrued at 4 working weeks per annum, (pro rata for part time employees). Annual leave is usually only accrued by full- and part-time staff (not casual employees).

Annual leave entitlements

Annual leave that has been accumulated during time in the job but which have not been used during the employee’s tenure. Usually paid out via payroll when employment ceases. Roubler’s annual leave management software handles all leave requirements and communication between, management, payroll and the employee.


Australian law making it unlawful for a business to discriminate on the basis of “protected attributes” such as age, disability, sexual orientation or race. These protections are provided under several specific Acts, as well as under the Fair Work Act 2009; see EEO


An individual who submits required materials to a business for recruitment opportunities, such as a resume, CV, cover letter, expression of interest or application form.

Application form

A standard form provided to potential new hires allowing for simpler comparison between applicants. Usually collected in conjunction with a CV and/or cover letter.


A person engaged by a business in a structured training program, under a contract called an apprenticeship, most common in traditional trades occupations.


An employment contract which combines on-the-job training in conjunction with a formal study component with a registered training organisation, such as TAFE. The apprenticeship wage is paid at a lower rate to regular employees during the period of the apprenticeship, allowing the business to invest time and resources providing training and development. The formal training is awarded a nationally-recognised certificate.


Back pay

The payment of monies owed to an employee for work activities not paid during the relevant pay cycle, (e.g. overtime accrued but not paid). These may be subject to additional tax requirements.

Background screening / pre-employment screening

The series of steps taken by an employer to verify the credentials of an applicant. This can include criminal history checks, drug testing, skills or qualification checks, employment references, or Blue Card/working with children checks.

Base pay

Employee wages paid for all regular hours worked, not including additional hours worked at higher rates of pay. The Fair Work Act 2009 indicates the base rate of pay cannot include additional loadings, monetary allowances (e.g. dinner allowance), overtime or penalty rates, incentive-based bonuses, or other separately identifiable amounts paid to the employee.

Basic competencies

The base standard of required skills for a particular position. Generally, these are outlined specifically in recruitment advertisements and matched against applicant resumes. Applicants who do not meet basic competencies are very unlikely to be suitable for a position or would require significant reskilling before commencing work.

Behavioural-based interview

An interviewing style which asks candidates to outline specific examples from previous jobs where certain skills or competencies were used or demonstrated.


A method of comparing change initiatives proposed by the business against other within the industry or field. These are measurable, specific, predetermined goals (such as customer satisfaction, corporate social responsibility, mentoring programmes) and results are compared to other businesses already implementing the measures.

Benefits package

Compensatory payments to employees additional to regular salaries or wages. These might include bonuses, incentive payments for excellent performance, additional superannuation payments, or extras such as private health insurance.

Bereavement leave

A condition built into an employment contract or enterprise agreement allowing time off (usually paid) following the death of a close relative.

Best practice

Processes, workflows and procedures widely accepted to achieve positive results or outcomes. This is commonly seen in areas like technology, agriculture, e-commerce security, or environmental management of waste by-products produced by a business.

Best practice policy

The formalisation of best practice concepts into a company’s workflows or business practice.

Blended workforce

A company team made up of a mix of part-time, full-time and casual employees, as well as third-party contractors and employees on fixed, temporary contracts.


A short article written for web, either on a dedicated blogging platform or on a business website. Blogs are very useful to highlight what a company is doing or boost a company’s visibility through search engines via search engine optimisation (SEO); see also search engine optimisation.


Extra payments made to an employee for achieving particular performance goals or indicators, either individually or as a team. Paid in addition to the base remuneration.


Using marketing to differentiate a business or the goods/services it provides by making it instantly familiar to customers. This may be done through particular sounds, colours, functions, or logos. Successful branding means the business becomes the standard for the industry in which they are competing, (e.g. “Just Google it”).


According to Fair Work Australia, bullying is repeated, unreasonable acts towards another worker or group of workers, and where these actions create a risk to health and safety. This includes both physical and mental health. Employers have a duty of care to prevent and take action on bullying.


Candidate experience

The experience of job applicants during the recruitment process. This is particularly important in terms of analysing abandonment rates (i.e. starting an application but leaving it incomplete), and in measuring the marketing of the company as an attractive employer.

Capability assessment tools

Provides insight into individual capabilities to help inform position descriptions, learning and development activities etc.

Career path

This may specific to individual employees or the workforce more generally, and sets out the opportunities for progression and career development within the business.

Casual employee

A staff member employed on a shift-by-shift basis with the possibility to increase or decrease hours and shifts work depending on the needs of the business. Casual staff do not accrue annual or sick leave, and are generally paid at a higher hourly wage.

Change management

The process of managing employees through a change programme in the workplace. This includes monitoring impacts on output, morale, and other stakeholders. This can be done continuously or on a periodic basis such as weekly, monthly, or annually.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

The highest ranked officer within a registered corporate entity, such as a company or non-profit organisation. Usually reports to a board of directors.

Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Reports to the CEO; usually tasked with managing information flows within an organisation, notably data collection, storage and retention, ICT policy and strategy, database management and other information-related systems and policies.

Chief Technical Officer

An executive-level position with a registered corporate entity, responsible for technical development, research and development, engineering or other technical divisions within the company. The role incorporates procurement, strategy and policy responsibilities.


Different from training in that coaching is usually targeting a more specific set of skills or tasks. This may be as part of performance management or upskilling for staff. This may be done by in-house trainers, or third-party coaches. Feedback on performance and sometimes assessment is included in coaching.

Code of conduct

A document produced by an employer establishing the broad expectations of employee behaviour, usually reflecting the values and goals of the business. These codes form part of the employment contract and are legally enforceable by the employer. These can broadly cover the whole workforce of a business or be specific to certain roles or positions.

Code of ethics

While the code of conduct outlines expected behaviours, the code of ethics underpins these expectations by outlining the fundamental “right and wrong” practice of the business, management and staff. These are high-level principles and can be expected to guide decision-making by the company.

Code of practice

Agreed upon principles within an industry relating to practices, technical requirements, corporate responsibilities or other activities that are designed to regulate and uphold the standard of the profession. These may be established by an industry body or in consultation with government and are a means of self-regulation. Examples of these include the Hippocratic Oath for medical professionals (i.e. “do no harm”) or the “scanning code of practice” implemented by many large Australian retailers.


Compensation is a better descriptor for the return on the effort employees will receive. This encourages thinking about the whole financial package an individual will receive. This is as opposed to the base salary or wage, which may only indicate part of the potential earnings. Compensation may come in the form of bonuses, share offerings, additional superannuation or even equity in the business.

Compensatory time-off plan (also, “time off in lieu”)

The concept of time off in lieu (TOIL) is an alternative to paying overtime for work done in addition to regular hours. For example, a worker contracted to do 8 hours in a day may be required to work an extra 3 hours. Rather than paying overtime rates, the business may offer the employee to have 3 hours off on another day while still getting paid for the full day. The Australian award does not prescribe rules for TOIL, however many enterprise agreements or employment contracts may provide a guidance clause.

Competency-based pay

An employee’s salary is determined by their skills or competencies, rather than at a universal rate. This may persuade more skilled applicants to apply, and incentivise upskilling within the workforce.

Competency-based training

Training or development opportunities for employees which result in a formal certification, based on the ability to perform a task with a set level of competency, (e.g. training to use fire extinguishers, first aid certification, forklift licensing).


Generally relates to the obligation of employees to business policies, and of the business to laws, regulations and codes of practice.

Conditions of employment

These are usually the benefits and responsibilities within a given position, specifically related to items like wage rate, work hours, annual and sick leave allowance, superannuation payments, penalty rates, grievance and discipline policies and other procedural conditions of employment.

Confidentiality agreement

A legally binding document that prevents the employee discussing commercial-in-confidence or other sensitive proprietary information with anyone else. This may be defined as people external to the firm, but may also include not disclosing information to other employees, (such as in the case of a workers compensation settlement or disciplinary action).

Constructive dismissal

Where an employee engineers a situation that leaves an employee feeling as if they have no choice but to resign.


A person external the business, usually engaged by large firms, who provides professional advice on particular matters for a fee. This may be to provide guidance on a particular branch of the company, suggestions for manufacturing or marketing processes, or even mentoring on the business direction as a whole.

Contract of service

Alternative term for employment agreement.

Conversion rate

A term used to describe the rate at which a visitor to a company website (particularly in e-commerce) converts from simply viewing the website to taking an action that benefits the business, such as making a purchase, signing up to a newsletter, or asking for a quote. Conversion rates can be increased through the use of search engine optimisation (SEO) which uses keywords on the website to boost the company’s ranking on search engines. This is cheaper and easier than expensive paid search campaigns.

Core competencies

The fundamental skills and qualifications required for an employee to successfully complete a role. This also relates to the critical strengths of the business that provide differentiation from others in the industry. The core competencies of the business emerge from those of the workforce.

Cost-benefit analysis

Analysing what a product or program will cost in term of finances and dedicated resources, compared to the benefit it brings in for the company.


The financial and resource costs to employ new hires. This can include advertising costs, onboarding, and training processes. Roubler’s ATS and customisable onboarding software significantly reduces the cost per hire.


The use of a large, voluntary community (such as social media) to generate ideas, new products or other contributions, as opposed to using tradition means. For example, allowing members of the public to name a new product.

Curriculum vitae

The CV, similar to a resume, is supplied by job applicants detailing their expertise, experience, skills and other relevant information to be assessed by the recruitment team. The CV is typically longer than a resume and includes educational history, significant career achievements, and any other pertinent information for the position. This is often used in more professional, white collar industries.


Data breach

An instance where sensitive commercial data (including customer or third-party data) has been accessed, viewed or used by an organisation or individual without the authority or permission to do so.

Deferred compensation

An arrangement which allows an employee to work, but put off receiving payment for the work until a date in the future. This is usually done for tax concessions, (such as moving a bonus payment to the following tax year).


A continuing condition that affects the ability for an employee to complete everyday activities. The Disability Services Act defines this as meaning something which is permanent or likely to be permanent, may be of a chronic or episodic nature, is attributed to an intellectual, psychiatric or physical impairment, and is likely to need ongoing support services.

Disability income insurance

A form of income protection insurance which pays all or part of the salary of an employee with a disability until their retirement.

Disciplinary procedure

A set process used by management or a business to deal with breaches of employment contracts or enterprise agreements. This provides clear guidance for managers, protection for the business, and clarity for employees.


Workplace policies or practices that disadvantage or deny opportunities to people with “protected attributes” under Australia anti-discrimination legislation, (including, but not limited to, on the basis of race, sexual orientation, or gender).

Distance learning

An education delivery method which allows individuals to access materials and submit assessment online or other asynchronous ways, rather than face-to-face delivery.


The mix of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, values, behaviours and other characteristics throughout the workforce.

Diversity training

Specialised training used to increase awareness and sensitivity around working in a diverse team. This helps promote an inclusive work culture and boosts morale and happiness in the workforce.

Due diligence

The close investigation of the details of a merger, acquisition or other significant contractual arrangement to ensure risk and potential benefits are accurately gauged.



E-learning is an online training delivery method whereby education materials are delivered online, often through a company portal which tracks completion and progress. These can be in conjunction with in-person training through a blended approach and are very cost efficient.


Cloud-based software or SaaS which handles recruitment and onboarding tasks such as collecting business intelligence data, identifying the best talent from the applicant pool through automation, and tracking applicants.

Early Return to Work program (also, graduated return to work)

Allowing an employee to return to work after a period of time off for injury or illness, changing their work duties or deployment to until the injury or illness heals. Work gradually returns to normal duties over time.

Emotional intelligence

A personal ability to sense, analyse and act upon ones own emotions, and the emotions of others.


A person under a contract to provide work to a business in return for wages or salary. Employees are differentiated from other workers such as contractors in that the business has the legal right to dictate the conditions, hours and manner of work performed.

Employee advocacy/employer advocacy

A corporate branding strategy which asks employees to promote the business, particularly in online channels such as social media.

Employee assessments

An aptitude test, commonly online, which asks job applicants to complete a test with the purpose of identifying capabilities, skills and strengths. This can help managers in recruitment decisions, as well as deploying the right staff to the right areas during onboarding and the employee lifecycle.

Employee assistance program (EAP)

A company-funded program which provides free, confidential, professional counselling services for both work and non-work-related issues. These can be problems caused by emotional and psychological stress, divorce or separation, work pressure, financial hurdles or any other form of issue causing work and morale to suffer. The money spent on EAP services can pay dividends of triple or more on lost time prevented.

Employee engagement program

A program or initiative which encourages employees to fully invest themselves in business activities, engage positively with programs or policies and works with a genuine desire to benefit the business, their teammates and themselves.

Employee exit survey

Provides insight into employee departure experiences from the organisation.

Employee management software

Refers to programs, and applications, designed to reduce the time and money you spend on managing your staff, rosters, and pay. Essentially, it will manage all HR and workplace administration. Employee management software comes in many different shapes and sizes. The best employee management software will be able to streamline the entire employee lifecycle – from creating job ads, assessing candidates, creating rosters, calculating time and attendance, and payroll.

Employee relations

Actively building relationships between the business and employees. This is done through regular, open communication, clear procedures to deal with disputes and problems, and encouraging employees to be active in helping grow the business.

Employee retention

Business strategies and policies that encourage employees to stay within the business, rather than looking for alternative employment.


Giving staff the ability to make decisions, participate in policy adjustment and change programme development, and providing the adequate resources to allow employees to complete the task most efficiently and effectively.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Closely aligned with anti-discrimination principles, EEO policies give the equal right and opportunity for all people to be considered for work and promotions regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender, disability status, or any other protected attributes under the legislation.

Exit interview

An interview with employees as they are leaving the company, usually conducted by a combination of management and HR personnel. This is used to document and understand reasons why someone is leaving the business to identify trends or problem areas leading to attrition.


A person who is sent abroad on a long-term assignment or job.


Flexible work arrangements

The ability for employees to negotiate altered work hours depending on personal circumstances. This can include moving work hours forward or back, working from home or another location, flex time or job sharing. This can be a good way to retain staff and attract talent.

Full-time equivalent

A term assigned to a role which has the workload of a person employed full-time (general 38 hours per week) in that position. A company looking to fill an FTE position may do so with one person, or multiple casual or part-time staff depending on the requirements of the business. The term is useful for allocating budgets or resources to be deployed in part of the business.


Gender pay gap

The term used to describe the traditionally higher average wages and salaries males earn over females.

General manager

A manager who has full responsibility for an independent unit within the workplace, be it a department, team or location. Other management staff within the unit report to the general manager for business intelligence to be aggregated.

Generation X

The term used to refer to people born between 1965-1980.

Generation Y

The term used to refer to people born between 1980-mid 1990s.

Generation Z

The term used to refer to people in the second half of the 1990s who grew up in the internet age.

Genetic-based discrimination

The collection and/or use of genetic testing information about employees or job applicants in the process of business decision-making (such as recruiting new hires).

Geographic differential

The difference in pay for identical or very similar jobs performed in different geographic areas.

Glass ceiling

Used to describe the often-invisible barriers (such as workplace ‘tradition’ or long-term culture) that prevents women and minority groups from being promoted within the company.

Global Human Resource Management

The task of managing all employees on a global scale, while maintaining a regional focus for each country in which the business operates. This involved recruiting local management to ensure regional cultural customs and consumer practices are managed without compromising the universal brand or image of the company. Also known as global human capital management.

Goals/goal setting

Aims or objectives which can be specific and measurable or can be broader to define the general course the business strives to follow. These goals may cover recruitment and hiring aspirations to have greater diversity in a team, corporate social responsibility objectives, or any other ambitions of the business. Generally, more flexible and iterative than business initiatives or benchmarking programmes.


An issue with or about an employee in regards to breaches of company policy, legislation or work contract

Gross misconduct

A serious action or behaviour that warrants an instant dismissal or termination of employment, with the right for the business to waive normal notice periods.

Group dynamics

The way people in a team work with each other, deal with disagreement and function as more than the sum of their parts.



Persistent behaviour or actions which threatens, intimidates or causes discomfort for other employees in the workplace. Australian law prevents harassment on the basis of “protected attributes” (e.g. race, sexual orientation, gender) under anti-discrimination legislation and the Fair Work Act 2009.

Hierarchy of needs

Created by Abraham Maslow, this is the concept that the things humans need are incremental, and satisfaction of higher level needs is only achieved after those lower in the hierarchy are satisfied. At the base of the hierarchy is basic physical needs, such as food and shelter, up to self-actualisation at the top of the ‘pyramid’.

HR audit

A formal check system of human resources processes at regular intervals, (quarterly, annually) conducted by the business.

HR compliance

The policies, workflows, reporting and recruitment practices of a company to ensure it stays in line with applicable state and federal legislation and regulation. Reporting may be on financial data (such as annual reports), EEO data, or industry-specific information.

HR software

Human resources (HR) is a critical aspect of every business. Human resources deals with the organisational and administrative aspects of a business, including hiring, training, and general employee management. HR essentially deals with people management. HR officers typically assist the employees in a workplace to achieve their best by performing a series of tasks, including hiring new employees who will benefit the workplace, assessing performance, training new starters, and organising all relevant paperwork. However, many tasks involved in HR can be tedious and time-consuming. Increasingly, these kinds of menial HR tasks are being automated by intelligent software. HR software are programs designed to complete these tasks in a fraction of the time it takes us. HR software ranges from tools to recruit and onboard employees, to applications that can auto-create rosters and track time and attendance. HR software is designed to assist employees and workforces to achieve their maximum potential. It can be implemented by companies of all sizes as a means to heighten productivity and boost employee satisfaction.

Human resource outsourcing

An agreement between a business and a third-party organisation which moves some of the HR responsibilities and functions off-location, while retaining others. For example, a business may outsource payroll and training while maintaining in-house recruitment or disciplinary processes.


Incentive pay

Remuneration opportunities used to motivate employees to go above and beyond expected work outcomes.

Independent contractor

A person engaged by a business to perform a particular task or service. The contractor is not an employee of the business and is paid via issuing an invoice to an accounts department, rather than being paid a wage through a business payroll or human resources department.

Indirect compensation

Extra benefits provided to an employee for work in a form other than regular remuneration. This may be health insurance, gym memberships, or training and development opportunities funded by the business.

Individual employment agreement

A work agreement only between the employer and a specific individual employee. This is as opposed to a collective enterprise agreement which covers all staff.

Industrial relations

The management and analysis of the relationship between employers, employees and representative groups, such as trade unions.

Intangible rewards

Rewards or recognition that carry personal value, but little or no monetary value. This may be praise or recognition of work done by employees, or an email of positive feedback sent to the business.


Job board

A website used to provide current job vacancies across a range of companies and industries or a company can have a business specific job board. Often run by third-party providers who provide the infrastructure for both employer and applicant to use the site to coordinate all applications.

Job classification

A means of breaking roles in a company down to specific titles, expected tasks and responsibilities and matching pay grades.

Job description

Often included in an employment contract or recruitment materials, this outlines the required competencies, experience and qualifications of an applicant or employee for a role.

Johari window

A quadrant diagram which helps individuals understand more about themselves and others. The X-axis has the headings “Known to self” and “Not known to self”, while the Y-axis has “Known to others” and “Not known to others”. The individual and others make assessments using adjectives to help reveal things they may not know about themselves, as well as opening up dialogue to things they may not know about others.


Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Metrics that are critical to the business success, and those upon which the success of employees is judged, (such as sales per month, customers served, units manufactured, etc).


Labour force participation

The measurement which identifies the number of people currently employed and actively looking for work, divided by the total number of working age people within a national population. This is carefully monitored by policy-makers because of the significant effect it can have on the national economy, (such as inflation, housing prices, cost of living).

Labour market

The availability of human labour and positions to be filled within a defined area. This may be measured on a national, state or local level, depending on the purpose of the analysis.

Leadership development

Programs within a business (either formal or informal) with the aim of developing skills and career progression of future leaders in the company.

Learning management systems (LMS)

LMS are defined as Software and online applications which are used to deliver training and development skills for employees. These are often linked to a company intranet or HR applications to track progress and retain training records in a central location. These may be locally installed or increasingly, offered as a cloud-based option.

Learning style

The ways in which individual employees learn most effectively. Some may prefer visual-based learning, while others may learn best in collaborative role-play situations, for example.

Leave management

Employees are entitled to workplace leave, and can take it for many reasons – illness, a holiday, to take care of a sick family member, or to take care of new children. The National Employment Standards (NES) outline the minimum leave allowed for each employee. However, an award, registered agreement, or contract can entitle an employee to more leave than the NES, but no less.
As outlined by the National Employment Standards, employee leave begins to accrue from their first day of employment, even if the employee is working through a probation period. Employee leave accumulates uniquely based on award, contract, and hours worked. Casual workers aren’t entitled to paid leave, but part-time and full-time workers are entitled to different amounts of leave.
Leave also varies in type. Part-time and full-time employees are entitled to:
• Paid annual leave: typically 4 weeks per year, or 5 weeks for shiftworkers. This time can be claimed when sick, when going on holiday, or when sitting community service (jury duty).
• Sick leave: unpaid time can be taken off when unwell, or an employee can use a portion of their paid annual leave.
• Carers leave: unpaid time off to take care of an unwell family member, or a portion of paid annual leave used
• Parental leave: new parents can take 12 months unpaid leave from an employer who they’ve already worked for more than 12 months with. An additional 12 months can be requested.
• Long service leave: this leave varies by state, but awards long serving employees with time off.

LIFO (last in, first out)

An option to decide who is made redundant when downsizing the workforce in a company. This may not always be the best option in terms of keeping the best talent.

Loyalty programs

A strategy to retain customers, which tracks sales and rewards return visits to the business. These may also be used internally in a business to identify employees who attend or participate actively in different extracurricular work activities.

Lump sum payment

A single, large payment made to an employee, rather than smaller, incremental payments. For example, an employee taking a month of annual leave may be paid the entire month of wages in one transfer, rather than weekly.


Marketing PR

The blending of marketing and public relations, where these two traditionally separate functions operate together. This unifies all activities in these domains, often bringing them together online to improve web and social media presence. For example, a traditional press release may be re-written and published as a blog article on the company social media and website to boost stakeholder engagement and search engine optimisation.

Mediation services

A third-party provider who facilitates dispute and grievance resolution. Mediators have no legal power but are trained to encourage good faith bargaining between the two (or more) parties.


A process used to link junior employees with a mentor in a more senior position to provide coaching, training and development. These can be informal or formalised, through meetings and measured outcomes.

Merit pay

Remuneration which is linked to work output or performance. Merit pay is based on specific, achievable, measurable targets.

Minimum wage

The minimum a full-time employee is allowed to be paid per annum. This is pro-rated for part-time and casual employees.

Mission statement

A written, often public statement that outlines a company’s objectives and professional philosophy.


This can be an incredibly opaque term, used by business coaches to optimistically point out the simple steps to boosting happiness and engagement among the workforce. In reality, boosting morale is less about isolated tasks and more about the long-term culture existing in the business. It is almost impossible to measure, and almost as hard to identify cause and effect when things go wrong. It can come down to the individual attitudes and practices of employees, or from as high up as scheduling, rostering or procedural changes. The business needs to remain cognisant of discipline and motivation and the team and have enough flexibility to make minor adjustments in policy or workflows where necessary.

Motivational theories

Concepts from psychology which identify and explain behavioural and attitudinal trends in a business. These are often used to design training materials, benefits schemes and other work incentives.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

A famous personality test which places individuals in one of 16 personality type categories. Each is a combination of scores on sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling. The model is influenced by the theories of Carl Jung.



Discussion between two parties where each has their own separate interests to fulfil. The negotiation is used to allow each to find a compromise solution that is mutually beneficial.


Giving preference or undue advantage to family or friends in a recruitment or promotion situation, even if they are not the most qualified to be selected.


Observation interview

An interview technique which involves the employer observing the applicant on-the-job rather than a traditional spoken interview. This allows the employer to assess abilities and proficiencies more accurately.


Using labour in other countries to fulfil part of the business operations to take advantage of tax breaks, cheaper wages or less regulation. This is common with operations such as call centres and manufacturing.


A useful term for manager and HR personnel. It signifies the process of bringing on new staff into the business, but in a way that doesn’t just stop at the interview. Onboarding carries new employees through the process of the offer and acceptance, induction, tasks such as payroll, tax and superannuation compliance, and other initial training. Businesses with streamlined onboarding procedures see smooth integration of new hires into the existing workforce and reduce time spent in administration. Seeing these as an aggregate rather than isolated tasks cuts down on duplication of work and ensures accuracy and compliance with company procedures.

One-way interviews

An interviewing technique which requires applicants to submit recorded answers to supplied interview questions. This can significantly save on recruitment costs, but may also make it difficult to ask follow-up questions to unclear responses or get a true sense of the applicant.

Open-book management

Giving employees access to an organisation’s finance and sales data, allowing them to better understand the impact their roles have on the business success.

Organisational culture

The beliefs, morals, mission and attitudes shared by the company and its employees. This is not a formal system – it emerges long-term and is related to the dynamic between employees, employees and managers, and the corporate governance and all staff.


A familiarisation process for new hires, which shows them the workplace, demonstrates the culture, and explains daily operations. This may also include formal and informal training administration.


Parent or Home country

The country in which the organisation’s main headquarters are located.

Part-time employee

A person employed by a business under a contract that requires them to work less than full-time hours, (generally measured as 38 hours per week). Part-time workers get the majority of benefits and conditions of full-time staff, including paid leave, calculated pro rata.

Payroll processing

The aggregation of time and attendance data for a pay period (week, fortnight, month) to process wage and salary payments to employees. This also involves calculations of tax payable, superannuation, higher education debts, allowances and any other payments.

Payroll software

Software which automates the processing of wages and other payments to employees. Often linked to time and attendance systems, payroll software saves significant time in calculating and paying out monies to staff. It takes into account tax payments, pre-tax deductions, superannuation, bonuses, and other sundry payments. Can easily generate wage and salary reports for management.

Peer appraisal

Employees evaluate the work performance of their equals and deliver feedback, as opposed to coming from management.


There are a multitude of terms used to describe the human labour used in businesses. Staff, workers and team can be used in most contexts but can sound cold and disconnected from the key contributions they make individually and as a group for the business. Personnel, human capital, human resources and talent often sound “buzzword-y” and bedded in corporate-speak. Using ‘people’ removes divides between management and non-management. Whatever their capacity in the workplace, it is the people who make the business operate.

Performance appraisal

The assessment of an employee’s performance and work outcomes. Undertaken by management, usually in consultation with the employee.

Performance management

Usually occurs after a negative performance appraisal or other event, such as a warning. An individual employee is closely monitored by management, in terms of behaviour or work output to ensure corrective action is being performed.

Performance review

Managing and monitoring employee performance should be done proactively, rather than simply in response to incidents or poor work output. Having regular reviews gives both employees and managers to discuss workload, output, issues and concerns. It also means giving employees just-in-time feedback so only minor adjustments have to be made to work practices. Some companies have regular, formalised performance reviews (monthly, quarterly, annually) with bonuses or other conditions attached to the outcome. Other businesses may prefer to use a less formal approach, and use the process as a way of stimulating open communication with staff.


A period at the start of an employee’s tenure (usually 3-6 months) which allows the business to assess their on-the-job skills and performance. If the employee does not meet requirements, the business can usually end the employment relationship without the employee quitting or having to be formally terminated.


Random testing

Drug and alcohol tests conducted by an employer at regular intervals or upon onboarding, as per local legislation and company policy.


Advertising for and interviewing applicants for a vacant role in a company.


Occurs where a business no longer has use, or can no longer sustain, a particular position within the organisation. This is not a sacking/termination, nor a resignation. Often businesses may offer redundancy packages, which are financial incentives to staff to voluntarily leave the business, which may allow employees to self-select who leaves, rather than being pushed into a forced redundancy. The business cannot re-fill the same position within the business without a significant change, (such as increased turnover which justifies filling the position).

Remote working

Modern technologies have made working outside of the office a much easier reality. Work teams distributed around the country (or around the world) give the business a lot of flexibility in finding the best new hires. Recruitment efforts are not just related to one city. Depending on the type of work being done, some businesses may not even have a “home base”. Modern all-in-one digital HR systems allow for simple attendance logging, payroll processing and business intelligence data to be collected even from scattered teams.

Reputation management

A joint role of HR, marketing and public relations to monitor and act upon shifts in external and internal attitudes about a business, especially with relation to public perception, crisis communication and internal morale.


The voluntary cessation of employment by an employee.

Return on investment (ROI)

The profit-to-expenditure ratio on a good or service produced and delivered. Also known as yield or rate of return.

Reverse mentoring

A mentoring program where more junior staff mentor senior staff on new systems or processes. This may see younger staff mentoring older staff in emerging tech trends or social media use.

Risk management

Strategies which insulate the business from potential risks, (such as public liability insurance or restricting staff from speaking to media, etc).


Scheduled time-off (planned leave)

Hours absent from work as a result of leave organised and planned in advance in consultation with the employer, (such as long service or annual leave). This can also include non-regular planned leave, such as jury duty, maternity leave or days in lieu.

Self-funded insurance plan / self-insured plan

An insurance plan which sees the company have an in-house fund for insurance payouts, rather than paying premiums to an external vendor. This can reduce costs, but also increases risk to solvency in the event of large payouts.

Sensitivity training

A program run by the business (often operated by an external provider) to make employees more aware of their own internalised biases and judgements about different demographic groups.

Sex discrimination

The unfair treatment of an employee on the basis of gender.

Sexual harassment

Continued and repeated unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace. The Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to sexually harass another person in education, employment, or the provision of goods/services (meaning it extends to treatment of business customers, not just other employees).

Short-term disability

An injury or illness not expected to be permanent. Health insurance plans and some businesses may have coverage to pay full or part wages while the employee is off work.


The ability to perform a specific, required activity in the workplace.

Skills gap

The net difference between the competencies an employee or applicant has, and those that are required to successfully fill the job requirements.

Social media

Digital platforms which enable people to form and participate in online communities to share content, opinions, ideas and other digital media.

Social media background screening

This involves HR staff examining the public social media profiles of staff or job applicants to ensure they align with company values and standards. This is a grey area legally and morally, particular in relation to anti-discrimination legislation.

Social networking

The use of social media to participate in online communities.


The process of recruiting, onboarding and managing employees.

Strategic planning

Development of short, medium and long-term goals for the company in order to assign appropriate resources and ensure adequate staffing and leadership development.

Succession planning

Mapping out the potential movement of current staff into leadership roles into the future to prevent skills gaps and inadequate management skills. This process creates a line of succession to identify which employees are inline to move upwards in the business.

Summary dismissal

The termination of an employee with no notice period given, most broadly used as a disciplinary action to serious misconduct in the workplace, (e.g. theft, sexual harassment).


An employee who has seniority over other staff, with the authority to assign work tasks, discipline staff under their purview, interview applicants, deal with complaints and grievances, and generally make independent decisions about operations within the scope of their role in line with the broader business principles.


A temporary period of non-attendance by the employee, potentially as a result of investigation into allegations of misconduct or other poor performance or behaviour.

Systemic discrimination

Sometimes called institutionalised discrimination, these are businesses practices that build patterns of discrimination or disadvantage for particular groups into the normal operations of the business. This is often not necessarily intentional. For example, a business may only recruit from a particular university which has a high proportion of students from wealthy families. This disadvantages or discourages potential applicants from low socioeconomic backgrounds.


Talent pooling

A database or list of potential candidates and their details who have expressed interest in working within the business. This can simplify recruitment procedures, where previous unsuccessful applicants can be approached first, without having to place job ads or cast a wide net.

Tangible rewards

Physical rewards or bonuses, such as gift cards or food hampers, (as opposed to intangible rewards such as praise).

Team building

A business aim to create a sense of interdependence and trust within a workforce, where employees feel their work is valued and value the work others contribute to their role. This can be introduced as a training program, but is heavily reliant on morale and the culture of the business to foster a long-term, sustained sense of team.

Temporary employee

An employee with a limited period of tenure within the business. They may be hired on a full- or part-time, or casual basis, generally with the same conditions as permanent employees. An end-date is placed on the period of service.

Total remuneration

The aggregate of base pay and incentive-based pay, as well as other financial benefits offered to employees, which can include additional superannuation contributions or bonuses.


Upskilling, learning opportunities, asynchronous learning, e-learning – all have become corporate jargon for what is simple training for employees. At its most basic, training is facilitating the development of both soft skills (such as communication, stress management, and listening) and hard skills (i.e. technical skills needed for the job). A focus on training means the business is always working towards growing the next generation of leaders and mentors in the business.

Training needs analysis

An assessment of what skills and development training needs to be offered to employees by identifying skills gaps or poor performance in the business. This also sets out expected outcomes on completion of training, both for employees and for the business output.


The rate of loss of employees in a business over time, (through voluntary and involuntary cessation of employment), whose positions are not refilled.


Unconscious bias

Discriminatory decisions made by a person without them realising they are doing it, as a result of internalised judgements about particular people or demographics. This can influence recruitment decisions in a negative way.


An organisation which agrees to compensate a business or person for certain losses. An insurance company is an example of an underwriter and the business pays premiums to mitigate the impact of losses caused by unforeseen circumstances.


The International Labour Organisation sets out the criteria of an unemployed person to be someone who is (1) without work; (2) currently available for work (e.g. of working age, not retired), and (3) deliberately seeking work.

Unexpected time off (unplanned leave)

Unexpected or unplanned absence from work, including sick leave or grievance leave. There may be requirement for employees to provide documentation to the business when this leave is taken, (such as a medical certificate), in order to be paid for the leave.

Unfair dismissal

The business ceases the employment of an employee on grounds that are unfair or without legitimate reason.


An organisation which coordinates and collectivises workers for the purposes of contract and enterprise agreement negotiations, as well as acts as a representative in industrial relations grievances.


Video interview

A job interview conducted with an applicant via video conferencing software, such as Skype or Zoom, rather than in-person.

Voluntary benefits

Benefits paid out of pre-tax income by the employee, deducted during the payroll process. This can be done to reduce tax burdens and may pay for services like health insurance or leased vehicles.


Flexibility built into the workplace where the company supports employees volunteering time. This may include pro bono work related to the core functions of the business, or may just be sponsorship of an employee to do general volunteering in the community.



An employee who reveals internal activities which contravene laws, regulations or company policy. Whistle-blowers have certain protections (and restrictions) under the Corporations Act 2001.

Work-life balance

The balance needed in life between time spent on the job and time spent seeking fulfilment outside the workplace. Achieving this balance can greatly improve both quality of life and work efficiency.

Work-life employee benefits

The non-traditional benefits offered to employees to help achieve fulfilment in the work-life balance; see also non-traditional benefits, work-life balance.


The aggregate of engaged or occupied FTE positions within a business; see also FTE.

Workforce planning

Assessing the current and future needs of the business and ensuring there is a sufficient supply of skilled labour and leadership talent; see also succession planning.

Wrongful dismissal / wrongful termination

The termination of an employee against the terms of an enterprise agreement, workplace law, or contract.

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