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HR Glossary ‘A’ Series

This HR Glossary pertains to ‘A’ series terminologies


Aptitude or competence, the skill or proficiency needed to perform certain tasks.

Ability test

An assessment instrument used to measure an individual’s abilities, mental or physical skills level (i.e. problem solving, manual dexterity, etc.).


Referred to as the habitual failure of employees to report for work when they are scheduled to work.

Absolute ratings

A rating method where the rater assigns a specific value on a fixed scale to the behavior or performance of an individual instead of assigning ratings based on comparisons between other individuals. 

Abstract reasoning

The process of perceiving issues and reaching conclusions through the use of symbols or generalizations rather than concrete factual information.

Acceptance theory of Authority

A manager’s authority rests on his or her subordinate’s acceptance of his or her right to give orders and to expect subordinate’s compliance with them.


The extent to which a contractor’s or employer’s facility is readily approachable and does not inhibit the mobility of individuals with disabilities, particularly such areas as the personnel office, worksite and public areas.

HR Terms a manager needs to know


Accessible format

Materials that are designed in alternate formats such as Braille, audiotape, oral presentation or electronically for individuals with visual impairments. 

Accident and Health Benefits

Employee fringe benefits paid usually through employer funded insurance plans. 


The responsibility placed on an individual or group for their own or others’ actions, conduct, performance, projects, etc.  


A process of external quality review and certification by a recognized body that evaluates individuals, colleges, universities and educational programs to assure they are performing the functions that they claim to be performing in a competent manner.     

Achievement test

A standardized testing instrument used to measure how much an individual has learned or what skills he or she has attained as a result of education, training or past experience. 


The process of acquiring control of another corporation by purchase or stock exchange. 

Action learning

A learner-driven, continuous learning process where learning revolves around the need to find solutions to real problems.

Active learning

The process of learning new knowledge, skills and behaviors through taking specific actions or performing specific tasks. 

Active listening

A manner of listening that focuses exclusively on what the other person is saying and validates understanding of both the content of the message and the emotions underlying the message to ensure exact understanding.

Activities of daily living (ADL)

The personal care activities which are essential to an individual’s everyday living, including eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, mobility and toileting.  

Action-centered Leadership

A theory of leadership which focuses on what leaders actually have to do in order to be effective,rather than on the personal qualities that they need to be good leaders, and which believes that leadership can be taught.

Adjunct program

A supplemental training tool that applies programming principles to existing instructional modules, materials, texts, manuals, etc., that are designed to direct the learner to specific areas within the module.


Aa person who gives a decision on a problem, an adjudicator in an industrial dispute.

Administrative service organization (ASO)

A term used to define an organization that provides outsourced solutions to meet the administrative and HR needs of the client with the client retaining all employment-related risks and liabilities.

Administartive Officer

Office employee responsible for managing the office, running errands and assisting the executive or boss, typing, filing, and other office related duties as required by the specific job.

Adverse action

Any act by an employer that results in an individual or group of individuals being deprived of equal employment opportunities.

Adverse impact

A substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion or other employment decision that works to the disadvantage of a race, sex or ethnic group.

Adverse selection

An employer’s selection practices or policies that result in discriminatory or unfavorable treatment toward an individual or individuals who are members of a protected group.

Adventure training – Adventure learning:

A type of training in which employees engage in group games and physically demanding outdoor activities such as climbing and absenting away from their usual work environment (NOTE:the aim of adventure training is to develop skills in leadership, problem-solving, decision-making and interpersonal communication and to build team spirit) .

Advisory committee

A group or panel of internal or external members with no decision- making authority, assembled to identify and discuss specific issues and make recommendations.  

Affected class

Groups of employees, former employees or applicants who have experienced and/or continue to experience the loss of employment opportunities or benefits due to discriminatory practices or policies of the employer.

Affirmative action (AA)

Any program, policy or procedure that an employer implements in order to correct past discrimination and prevent current and future discrimination within the workplace. 

Affirmative Action plan (AAP)

A written set of specific, results-oriented procedures to be followed by all federal contractors holding contracts of $50,000 or more and employing 50 or more people and intended to remedy the effects of past discrimination against or underutilization of women and minorities. The effectiveness of the plan is measured by the results it actually achieves rather than by the results intended and by the good faith efforts undertaken by the contractor to increase the pool of qualified women and minorities in all parts of the organization.

After-acquired evidence

Used in litigation of employment discrimination disputes, after-acquired evidence is evidence that the employer discovers after it has already discharged an employee which proves that even if the discharge in question is found to be illegal, the employer would have dismissed the employee anyway in light of discovering the misconduct. 

Alternation ranking

A rating method used in job evaluation and performance evaluation whereby the rater is asked to select the best and worst employees from a listing of all employees and then rank them accordingly.     

Alternative assessment

Nontraditional procedures and techniques used within the framework of instructional programs to evaluate a student’s educational achievement. 

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

A voluntary procedure used to resolve disputes or conflicts between individuals, groups or labor-management. This procedure utilizes the services of a neutral third party to facilitate discussion and assist the parties in reaching an agreement which is binding. 

Alternative worksite

Any location other than the employer’s physical worksite where employees are allowed to perform their jobs. 

Analysis of variance

A statistical method used to determine whether a relationship exists among two or more variables by formulating concurrent comparisons of the variables.   

Analytical thinking

The ability to analyze facts, generate a comparison and draw correct inferences or conclusions from available information.


Information that is based on observations or indications of individual actions instead of any organized process.

Anti-nepotism policy

An employer’s policy that restricts the employment of two or more family members at the same time. 

Annual goal

An annual target for the placement of underutilized groups of protected class members in job groups where underutilization exists. 

Apparent authority

The appearance that an individual has the authority or power to act as an organization’s agent, even though the organization has bestowed no such authority or power to that individual.


A person who seeks work at a certain employers’ facilities who meets certain prescribed standards, as defined by the employer.

Applicant files

Application forms/resumes and other relevant items maintained by an employer and used during the selection process. 

Applicant flow data

Records of hiring, promotion and other related employment actions used for the purpose of monitoring selection and employment practices.

Applicant flow log

A chronological listing that records each applicant who applies for employment or promotion. Data includes applicant’s name, race, national origin, gender, referral source, date of application, job title applied for and disposition.

Applicant pool

The sum total of all individuals who have applied for a position either by submitting a resume or application for employment which the employer uses to select candidates for employment. 

Applicant tracking

Any paper or computerized system that tracks the organization’s data such as resumes/applications and internal job posting information. 

Application service provider (ASP)

A third-party organization that delivers software applications and related services over the Internet allowing an organization to outsource some or all of its information technology needs.


A system used to train a person in a recognized trade or craft in accordance with specific standards.  The apprenticed individual obtains his or her skills by performing the related duties for a specified period of time under the tutelage of an experienced craft or tradesman.

Aptitude testing

A standardized testing instrument used during the selection process that is intended to measure and predict an individual’s abilities.


An alternative dispute resolution method that uses a neutral third party (i.e. arbitrator) to resolve individual, group or labor-management conflicts and issue a binding decision.   

Assessment center

A testing location where a candidate being considered for assignment or promotion to managerial or executive-level position is rated by a team of experienced evaluators over a series of days using standardized activities, games and other simulations to predict the candidate’s future job performance.

Attendance policy

An employer’s written standards regarding the requirement for employees to be on time and present at work during regularly scheduled work periods.  

Attendance Management

Positive approach to absenteeism which applies principles of behavior modification to achieve improved attendance at work. Although it relies on both reward and punishment (carrot and stick), the emphasis is on incentives and recognition, and effective employee relations management and communication.

Attitude survey

A tool used to solicit and assess employee opinions, feelings, perceptions and expectations regarding a variety of managerial and organizational issues.


A professional individual who is authorized to practice law and can be legally appointed by either a plaintiff or a defendant to provide legal advice or act as a legal agent on their behalf during legal proceedings. 


A term used to describe voluntary and involuntary terminations, deaths and employee retirements that result in a reduction to the employer’s physical workforce. 

Auxiliary aids

Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as including “a wide range of services and devices (necessary) for ensuring that equally effective communication” takes place with regard to persons with hearing, speech and vision disabilities.  Such aids include, but are not restricted to, providing interpreters, assistive listening devices, materials in Braille, closed caption, telecommunication devices for the hearing impaired, etc.

Authentic Assessment

Measurement of learning achievement in which ‘real world’ problems that are meaningful to the trainee are presented.

Autonomous Work Groups

Team of employees, assigned to a specific job or project, with a high degree of autonomy over who does what, when, and who is answerable for the team’s performance.

Availability analysis

The process of determining the number of qualified minorities and women in the relevant available workforce who possess or have the ability to acquire the required skills or qualifications for any available position within the organization

Autocratic Leadership

Leader determines policy of the organisation, instructs members what to do/make, subjective in approach, aloof and impersonal.