Human Resources Defined

It is easy to get lost in terminology. The Swipeclock glossary is here to help you stay fluent and up-to-date with common terms and ideas in the world of human resources.

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  • A 4-day (four-day) workweek is a modern and flexible approach to the traditional five-day workweek. It allows an employee to complete their work-related tasks in four days. Some employers have offered this schedule to employees, with 40-hour employees working four 10-hour days per week. But(...) Read More
  • What is Absence Management? Employee Absence management is the process of accruing, tracking, coordinating, and facilitating employee time off. There are many reasons that employees may be absent from work. Some are unexpected while others are planned far in advance. Managing the various(...) Read More
  • What is absenteeism? Absenteeism describes the situation where employees do not show up for scheduled shifts or miss scheduled events such as meetings and appointments. The term is also sometime applied to late arrivals, early departures, and unauthorized breaks. What are common employee(...) Read More
  • What are accruals? In the HR world, accruals generally refer to time off, sick leave and vacation time that 'accrues' as an employee works for the organization. For example, a company may offer four days of paid leave per quarter. When the employee has worked for six months, they have accrued(...) Read More
  • What is the Affordable Care Act? The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the comprehensive healthcare reform Act. The law is also known colloquially as “Obamacare” because it was the hallmark legislation of the first term of the Obama administration and signed into law by President Barack Obama on(...) Read More
  • What is the Americans With Disabilities Act? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of the broadest and most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation passed in the late 20th Century. The Act was(...) Read More
  • What is an applicant tracking system? An applicant tracking system is a type of HR software that automates hiring and onboarding processes. The acronym ATS is used in the industry for both the singular and the plural. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are similar to customer relationship(...) Read More
  • At-will employment refers to a relationship between an employer and employee where the employer can terminate the employee for any reason other than an illegal one. The termination can occur at any time, and the employer will not be held liable in a legal sense. At-will employment also allows(...) Read More
  • What is attrition? Attrition, as applied to an organization’s workforce, is a measurement of the reduction of staff during a set period of time. It is generally measured annually. It encompasses all reasons for separation. These include resignation, termination or retirement. If an employee(...) Read More
  • What is a background check? A background check (also called a background screening) is when an employer or third-party service scrutinizes a job candidate’s background. The specific areas of inquiry are based on the background check policy of the prospective employer. They vary based on the(...) Read More
  • What is Benefits Administration? Benefits administration, also called benefits management, is the process of creating a benefits program and the ongoing management of the program. It requires researching types of benefits and providers, defining eligibility, working with providers and putting(...) Read More
  • Bereavement leave is part of a workplace leave policy allowing an employee to take time off after a family member passes away. Some companies offer paid bereavement leave up to a certain number of days (which can vary based on the closeness of the family member). Others require employees to(...) Read More
  • What is a biometric time clock? A biometric employee time clock identifies an employee by a unique physical attribute and allows the employee to clock in and out for a shift. Possible identifiers include a fingertip, facial geometry, iris scan or hand vein pattern. How does a biometric(...) Read More
  • What is churn rate? A company’s churn rate, or employee churn rate, refers to both the attrition rate and the turnover rate. All of these terms refer to the number of employees who leave the organization during a specified period of time, generally a year. (Note that the term ‘churn’ used(...) Read More
  • Company culture, also referred to as business or organizational culture, includes the actions, behaviors, and attitudes of those who work for a specific organization. At its core, company culture incorporates how employees interact with one another and complete their tasks, as well as how the(...) Read More
  • Compensatory time off, also called comp time, is an optional alternative to paying employees who work overtime on occasion. A comp time policy provides credits to employees in the form of additional paid time off (PTO) rather than time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours worked. In order to(...) Read More
  • What is discrimination? U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity laws define workplace discrimination as unfair treatment based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, age (age 40 or older), or genetic(...) Read More
  • What is diversity hiring? Diversity hiring refers to recruiting practices designed to increase the level of diversity in an organization. Workplace diversity refers to a staff demographic makeup that includes members of underrepresented groups similar in proportion to the society at large.(...) Read More
  • What is EEO-1 Reporting? The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Component 1 report is a mandatory annual data collection that requires all private sector employers with 100 or more employees, and federal contractors with 50 or more employees meeting certain criteria, to collect and report(...) Read More
  • Employee benefits refer to the compensation an employee receives from their employer aside from the money earned on their paycheck. Benefits come in many forms and make up the overall compensation package that a new hire receives as part of an employment offer. Examples of common employee(...) Read More
  • An employee handbook or company handbook includes all the procedures and policies of an organization that pertain to employees. Providing this document helps new hires and existing employees be aware of what they need to be safe and successful in the workplace. A handbook may include the(...) Read More
  • What is employee onboarding? Employee onboarding is the process of bringing on a new hire. This process is critical to the successful integration of the new employee into the organization. Onboarding done right brings new hires up to speed fast while ensuring a safe and productive work(...) Read More
  • How do I control employee overtime? Employee overtime is defined by the federal government as hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. State and local laws may also set rules for overtime. Overtime increases business costs by imposing a multiplier on the pay rate for non-exempt workers. The most(...) Read More
  • An employee punch card is used with a time clock that requires a manual punch. When an employee arrives to work or plans to leave, they insert the punch card into the clock to create a timestamp. Older time clocks printed the date and time on the card, which was used as a timesheet to(...) Read More
  • How can I improve employee retention? Employee retention is a measure of business stability and employee satisfaction. It is calculated by totaling all people employed for entire period measured divided by all employees at the start of the period. In other words, what percentage of people(...) Read More
  • What are best practices in employee scheduling? Employee scheduling is the process of predicting labor needs, assigning employees to fill those needs, and adjusting in real-time. Make sure you have an easy way to let employees pick up and drop shifts in accordance with compliance rules, so(...) Read More
  • What is employee scheduling software? Employee scheduling software is a business software application that automates the process of building and managing employee work schedules. How does employee scheduling software work? Employee scheduling software has a graphical interface, templates(...) Read More
  • What are employee time clocks? An employee time clock is a device to record and track employee work time and administer time and attendance policies. A time clock can be a physical device, cloud-based software, on-premise software, mobile application or landline telephone-based system. An(...) Read More
  • What is employee time tracking? Employee time tracking is the process of recording and calculating an employee's work hours for payroll. It is a key part of time and attendance administration. Accurate employee time tracking is essential for compliance and efficient business operations. The(...) Read More
  • What are employee timesheets? Employee timesheets are used to record the hours worked by employees. Timesheets can be handwritten, punched on cards, typed into a spreadsheet, or automatically filled by a timeclock system. The most accurate timesheets are stored in an online time and(...) Read More
  • What is employee turnover? Employee turnover measures how many employees leave (voluntarily or not) within a time period, typically a year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the average turnover rate in the U.S. is about 12% to 15% annually. What factors cause employee(...) Read More
  • What is an Employee Value Proposition? An Employee Value Proposition (also called Employment Value Proposition and Employer Value Proposition) articulates the value an employer provides to their employees in exchange for their contributions. Employees contribute their skills, experience,(...) Read More
  • What is employer branding? Employer branding is the process of cultivating a favorable reputation to help attract and retain talented employees who can ensure business success. While a corporate brand is the perception of a company as held by the public, customers and investors, an(...) Read More
  • What is an Exempt Employee? The 'exempt' in exempt employee signifies that the employee is exempt from the overtime protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In other words, the employer doesn't have to pay overtime, generally time and a half their regular rate for weekly hours(...) Read More
  • What are Fair Workweek laws? Fair Workweek laws are regulations that aim to make employee scheduling more stable, fair and transparent. They seek to help hourly, part-time, and shift workers better manage their personal lives outside of work. They are also called Predictive Scheduling and(...) Read More
  • What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was passed February 5, 1993 during the administration of President Bill Clinton. The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons(...) Read More
  • What are flexible work schedules? Flexible work schedules and workplace flexibility have been trending for several years and their popularity soared in early 2020. Unlike traditional schedules that typically require employees to work a continuous shift at a specific location, flexible(...) Read More
  • A floating holiday is a paid day off that an employee can choose when to take. The name refers to the fact that the day moves or “floats” to when the employee decides to use it. Employers offering floating holidays often do so in addition to standard paid holidays that occur on the same day(...) Read More
  • What is the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)? The Fair Labor Standards Act was a sweeping employment rights Act signed into law on June 25, 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The “wage and hour” law was both the culmination of decades of growing pressure for Federal employment regulation(...) Read More
  • Form 1099, also referred to as the 1099 form, is a tax document used to report payments issued to non-employees. Examples of individuals receiving Form 1099 include freelancers, independent contractors, gig workers, and sole proprietors. A copy is provided to the individual providing services(...) Read More
  • What is FTE? FTE or Full-Time Equivalent is an HR metric that quantifies an employer's number of full-time employees regardless of how many hours each employee works. It was created to measure part-time employment in terms of full-time hours. In other words, an employer who has both full-time(...) Read More
  • What is a furlough? A furlough (as applied to an employee) is a temporary unpaid leave of absence or reduction in hours. The employer may mandate a furlough or seek volunteers from the workforce. Generally, when an employee is furloughed, the employer expects the employee to return to(...) Read More
  • Wage garnishment refers to the legal withholding of money from a paycheck. The funds withheld from an employee’s paycheck are distributed to another party, such as to pay off unpaid taxes, child support payments, defaulted student loans, alimony, and other monetary fines. Garnishment(...) Read More
  • How does geofencing help enforce schedules and attendance? Geofencing provides a way to verify where each employee clocks in and out through a mobile time clock. If the employee is inside a pre-approved geofence, all is well. If not, a manager is alerted. Geofencing makes it easy to confirm(...) Read More
  • Gross vs. net income compares the total compensation an employee receives (gross pay) and what they take home after deductions (net pay). Calculations and figures shown on a paycheck often indicate where deductions are being made and what they are for. An employee can usually view both the(...) Read More
  • What is a hiring manager? The hiring manager is responsible for hiring employees to fill open positions in for-profit, non-profit or governmental organizations. Hiring managers are typically people from the department in which the new employee will work. They may serve as the new employee’s(...) Read More
  • What are hiring processes? Hiring processes are the specific tasks necessary to source, attract, process, screen, qualify, and hire talent. They include: Creating a job requisition process Writing job descriptions Posting jobs to job boards, careers pages, and social media(...) Read More
  • What is HR analytics? HR analytics is the process of tracking HR metrics and using them to improve business performance. HR metrics, or Human Resources metrics, are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that quantify how well a company is optimizing their human capital. HR analytics provides(...) Read More
  • What are HR certifications? A professional Human Resources (HR) certification is a designation offered by a recognized Human Resources credentialing organization. HR professionals take a rigorous exam to earn the credential. HR certifications are designed to demonstrate proficiency in a broad(...) Read More
  • What are HR metrics? HR metrics, or Human Resources metrics, are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that quantify how well a company is optimizing their human capital. This is analyzed in the context of overall business performance. Tracking HR metrics provides actionable data so you can make(...) Read More
  • What is HR software? HR software automates Human Resources processes. These processes include hiring, onboarding, timekeeping, payroll, performance management, training and development, benefits management, and employee scheduling. Within each process are dozens (or more) sub-tasks. Good(...) Read More
  • What are HR strategies? HR strategies are actions designed to optimize an organization's human capital to align with the business objectives. They are most successful when the results are quantifiable. How do you create HR strategies? Here is a basic outline for strategic and tactical HR(...) Read More
  • What is an HRIS? A Human Resource Information System (HRIS) is a type of business software. It is an integrated suite of tools that manages hundreds of specific Human Resources processes. The category includes both on-premise and cloud-based platforms. An HRIS helps companies manage their(...) Read More
  • What is Human Resources Management? Human Resources is the business function that manages all employee-related processes. Effective Human Resources Management (HRM) has a profound effect on the performance of the company. Human Resources Management includes the following functions: (...) Read More
  • What is an HRMS System? A Human Resources Management System (HRMS) is a suite of integrated software tools that perform Human Resources tasks. Each tool allows you to manage one or many HR processes in the employee life cycle. Whether the task is done daily or once a year, the HRMS performs(...) Read More
  • What is a job board? Job boards are web sites where employers post open positions for individuals to review and apply. They are essentially search engines for jobs. Some job boards are highly specialized by industry, geography, or role. Others are known for their breadth and volume of jobs.(...) Read More
  • What is a job description? A job description is a formal listing of the specific responsibilities and important details about an employment position. A good job description will: Define the job responsibilities Reduce the applicant pool to those who qualify Introduce the(...) Read More
  • What is a learning management system? A learning management system (LMS) is a type of computer software that streamlines education and training. Companies use LMS for employee training. Educational institutions use LMS for student instruction. Modern LMS generally include self-directed(...) Read More
  • What are meal and rest breaks? Meal and rest breaks are specific examples of employee breaks. A break is a period of time during work hours in which an employee is allowed to stop performing their job duties. There are several different types of breaks. They vary in length and may or may not(...) Read More
  • What are minimum wage laws? A minimum wage law sets the lowest hourly rate an employer can pay an employee who is covered by the law. What is the federal minimum wage? The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. It was enacted July 24, 2009. Do states/cities/counties have their own(...) Read More
  • What are office politics? Office politics is a collective term for employee behavior that is used to gain personal advantage that has a negative impact on the organization. Office politics can encompass a spectrum of behavior. They range from annoying and childish to straight up(...) Read More
  • Onboarding is the process or action of bringing a new employee on board with a company. The process often includes a range of activities, some of which are performed by human resources professionals. These activities are designed to integrate a new hire, such as: Orientation An(...) Read More
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor. It was established by Congress in 1970 to oversee and ensure healthy and safe working conditions for American workers. Its mission is to provide training and outreach, offer education and(...) Read More
  • Overtime refers to the hours worked in excess of 40 during a workweek by a non-exempt employee. The Department of Labor manages the federal overtime eligibility and pay requirements. Qualifying non-exempt employees are entitled to receive overtime pay that is above their usual pay rate for all(...) Read More
  • What is payroll? Payroll is the process of compensating employees for time worked. It involves designing a compensation plan, tracking work time, calculating withholdings, issuing paychecks and submitting payroll taxes. How do you process payroll? It’s helpful to break down payroll(...) Read More
  • What is payroll processing? Payroll processing is an umbrella term for the tasks necessary to compensate employees for time worked. The following actions are part of payroll processing: Determine employee pay rate Track work time Calculate withholdings Issue paychecks Submit(...) Read More
  • What is the PHR Certification? PHR stands for Professional in Human Resources. It is offered by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). The HRCI is a premier credentialing organization for HR professionals. The Human Resources Certification Institute offers seven certifications. The(...) Read More
  • What is PTO? PTO or Paid Time Off is a type of earned paid leave policy that doesn’t categorize the reason for the leave. Traditional paid leave separates the type of leave by category. The categories include sick time, personal days, and vacation time. For most companies, the PTO model(...) Read More
  • What is the best PTO tracker? PTO tracking systems ensure that all employees are treated the same. They centralizes PTO information for administrators. They provide a formal way for employees to request time off. And employees can check their accruals at any time. The best PTO trackers sync(...) Read More
  • What is recruiting? Human Resources recruiting is the process of hiring talent. Recruiting includes the specific tasks necessary to source, attract, process, screen, qualify, and offer jobs to high-quality candidates. Recruiting may include the following components: Creating a job(...) Read More
  • What are HR challenges associated with remote work? Remote work has been around for many years, but it has typically been limited to certain categories of employees such as salespeople, consultants, field service technicians, and others who deliver services at multiple sites. In 2020,(...) Read More
  • What is return to work? Return to work describes the process of bringing an employee back to the workforce and potentially the workplace after a period of absence. Typically, the absence has been from a period of sick or family leave. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the absence could be from a(...) Read More
  • Scripting is like a mini program that runs on each line of a timecard. As it runs, one by one, it can make changes based on the conditions defined in the script. Its main purpose is to check a condition (for example, whether a punch meets a specific set of criteria). If it does meet that(...) Read More
  • What Does SHRM Stand For? SHRM is the largest professional Human Resources organization in the world. It was founded in 1948 and has over 300,000 members in 165 countries. SHRM is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. SHRM provides multiple resources for HR practitioners and supports(...) Read More
  • What is sick leave? Sick leave is employee time off, either paid or unpaid. Does the government require employers to provide sick leave? The FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) doesn't require paid sick leave. The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) mandates unpaid sick leave. There are(...) Read More
  • What is strategic HR management? Strategic HR management is a holistic, structured approach to employee-related processes. With this operational model, HR processes are aligned closely with long-term business objectives, vision and values. Strategic HR management is characterized by the(...) Read More
  • What is talent acquisition? Talent acquisition is the umbrella term for the HR functions necessary to source, attract, process, screen, qualify, and hire talent. They include: Developing a hiring plan Creating a job requisition process Writing job descriptions Posting jobs to(...) Read More
  • What is telecommuting? Telecommuting is the practice of an employee working away from the employer's physical business location. The employee often works from their place of residence. It can also refer to mobile employees who travel for work. In companies that have a 100% remote workforce,(...) Read More
  • Text to apply is a tool that allows applicants to submit their interest in an open position via text message. This option saves time and takes advantage of interest on the spot, minimizing barriers to application. Additionally, text-to-apply functionality empowers more candidates to apply as(...) Read More
  • Text to hire is a communication method used in recruiting that allows hiring managers to reach candidates where they are–on their phones. Texting is the most engaging way to communicate with potential new hires. The open rate of text messages is 97% (vs. the 20% open rate for emails), and 90%(...) Read More
  • What is time and attendance? Time and attendance, in the HR world, is the process of tracking employee work hours. Time and attendance includes the following components: Designing a time and attendance policy Creating and publishing employee schedules Recording shift start and(...) Read More
  • What are time clocks? In the HR industry, a time clock refers to a device to track employee work hours. A time clock can be a physical device, cloud-based software, on-premise software, mobile application or landline telephone-based system. An employee time clock tracks shift start and end(...) Read More
  • What is time theft? Employee time theft is when an employee is paid for time not worked. There are various methods dishonest employees use to steal employer time. Buddy punching When an employee punches in for an absent co-worker Hours padding Reporting incorrect hours(...) Read More
  • What is timekeeping software? Timekeeping software helps employers track employee work time. Employees punch in and out for shifts with an integrated hardware clock or an online portal. Timekeeping software automates shift clocking. It can replace paper timecards and generic(...) Read More
  • What is turnover? Employee turnover measures how many employees leave (voluntarily or not) within a time period, typically a year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the average turnover rate in the U.S. is about 12% to 15% annually. Is turnover the same as attrition? Employee(...) Read More
  • What is video interview software? Video interview software allows hiring managers to conduct video interviewing online. Video interviewing is the practice of conducting a remote job interview over the internet. It allows businesses to interview candidates when the applicant and/or the(...) Read More
  • What is wage and hour compliance? Wage and hour compliance is an employer's responsibility to follow the laws are regulations that affect the business. In the US, there are federal, state and local wage and hour laws. In addition, there are wage and hour regulations set by unions. Wage and(...) Read More
  • What are wage and hour laws? Wage and hour laws are regulations that affect employers, employees and employment in general. In the US, there are federal, state and local wage and hour laws. In addition, there are wage and hour regulations set by unions. The term 'wage and hour' generally(...) Read More
  • What is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)? The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax incentive program that rewards businesses that hire individuals within certain target groups. Individuals within these target groups are known to experience barriers to employment, so by(...) Read More
  • What is workforce planning? Workforce planning is a formalized system for identifying current and future staffing needs to ensure the company can meet its goals. Also called labor forecasting, workforce planning outlines human capital solutions for several possible scenarios. Once a(...) Read More
  • What is workplace diversity? Workplace diversity refers to a staff demographic makeup that includes members of underrepresented groups similar in proportion to the society at large. For example, if the general population is 20% black, 52% female, 15% Latino, an organization's labor force(...) Read More
  • What is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)? The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax incentive program that rewards businesses that hire individuals within certain target groups. Individuals within these target groups are known to experience barriers to employment, so by(...) Read More