Commonly Confused HR Terms: Going Beyond the Jargon

Monday, December 21
Commonly Confused HR Terms: Going Beyond the Jargon

Human resources (HR) is a highly-specialized field. And, while it is one of the most critical departments in any business, the terms and jargon used can make things even more confusing than they already are. In this article, we will explore some of the most commonly confused HR terms and acronyms to help you understand what they mean and communicate more effectively.

A Helpful Guide to Acronyms

Acronyms provide a convenient way to provide information without having to use a larger term. When used correctly, they simplify and streamline. However, to those not “in the know”, they can muddy the waters and make things difficult to understand. Here are some of the HR-related acronyms you should understand:

ATS – This acronym stands for “applicant tracking system”. In some circles, it’s called a candidate management system (CMS), but with the rise of customer management systems (also CMS), that has begun to phase out. An applicant tracking system does precisely what it sounds like; it helps the organization connect with job seekers, surface the right candidates for specific openings, and manage the recruiting and onboarding process.

CHRO – This one stands for chief human resource officer, who is a C-level executive within the organization. This individual focuses on managing and helping the human element of the business.

CSR – This stands for corporate social responsibility, which is a strategy that allows organizations to focus on doing good in the world around them, including social, economic, and environmental causes.

ERP – An employee referral program (ERP) helps encourage existing employees to refer others to the organization in exchange for some sort of reward. Referred employees are usually better fits for the organization than people hired “off the street”.

HCM – Human capital management (HCM) systems combine multiple other systems into a single, cohesive whole and provide tools for talent management, as well as many other capabilities.

HCM – Human capital management (HCM) systems combine multiple other systems into a single, cohesive whole and provide tools for talent management, as well as many other capabilities.

Commonly Confused Terms

With the acronyms out of the way, let’s turn our attention to some of the regularly used but confusing terms.

Sourcing v. Recruiting v. Talent Acquisition

Sourcing is the process of finding the right person for a specific role, which requires an in-depth comparison of the individual’s capabilities, knowledge, and potential for growth and development.

Recruiting is the process of encouraging someone with desirable talents to consider filling a role within the organization (and can be either in-house or out-of-house).

Talent acquisition is a long-term process that focuses on attracting top talent and maintaining what HR professionals call a “healthy talent funnel”.

While all three of these terms are related, they actually do not mean the same thing and play individual roles within the hiring, onboarding, and talent retention process.

Job Ad v. Job Description

A job ad is exactly that – a concisely written advertisement to be placed on a hiring website or other outlet that briefly describes the position, its responsibilities, and the company’s minimum requirements for applicants.

A job description is a full description of a position and its role and responsibilities within the organization itself. It spells out exactly what is necessary for someone holding that position to understand their role within the business.

Diversity v. Inclusion

Diversity is having a workforce that includes a good balance of different cultures, religions, genders, races, and more.

Inclusion is the ability to accept other cultures, religions, genders, and races, and place equal value on all of them, regardless of their difference, or their role within the organization.

Diversity v. Corporate Culture

Again, diversity speaks to the range of backgrounds, races, religions, genders, and other differences in the staff of an organization.

Corporate culture is essentially an embodiment of what an organization believes and allows. It can be positive, neutral, negative, or toxic, and stems largely from what leaders espouse and then act on. For instance, if leaders espouse diversity but then openly make fun of people from different economic circumstances, it creates an environment in which diversity and inclusion cannot happen.

Performance Management v. Talent Management

Performance management is a strategy designed to help employees improve their performance while correcting problem behaviors. It focuses on future growth and reaching key milestones in development that lead to better performance.

Talent management, on the other hand, goes beyond individual performance and touches on the business aspect of managing an organization’s people, such as driving profit, business growth, and more.

Performance Management System v. Performance Management Process

A performance management system is a tool (often digital) that streamlines and augments the employee performance management process.

The employee management process is an organization’s defined strategy that will be followed to help develop better performance within employees.

Performance Management System v. Learning Management System

Again, a performance management system is a tool used to help improve the performance management process.

A learning management system, on the other hand, is a (usually digital) tool that helps employees learn important skills, inculcate knowledge, and develop both professionally and personally. These systems can be used to close skill gaps, develop in-house talent for advancement, and handle corporate training needs, among many other uses.

Employee Experience v. Employee Engagement

The “employee experience” is a measure of how positive or negative an employee’s experience in a role or with the employer over time might be. How well does the organization meet the employee’s needs? Does the employer provide all the tools and support necessary?

Employee engagement, on the other hand, is a measure of an employee’s commitment to the employer, as well as to delivering high-quality results within their specific role. Engagement includes many other factors, including motivation, loyalty, happiness/satisfaction, and more.

These are just some of the often-confusing terms you’ll find in the world of human resources. By developing an understanding of them, you help ensure smoother, more accurate communication within the HR department, but also with the people within the organization, which is the entire point of HR.