It is said that the importance of a particular thing for a group is often reflected in the number of words they have for it. For example, Eskimos have many words for 'snow' (the number of words for snow ranges from about 12 to 52, depending on which Anthropologist you want to listen to) to bring out the finer nuances in various types of snow.
I was wondering if we can adopt a similar approach to ‘reverse-engineer’ that is really important in the field of Human Resources (HR). So, let’s see what we can infer by looking at the various areas in HR and examining how many terms are there to describe each of them.
To avoid, ‘false positives’, let’s consider only the ‘technical terms’('jargon', if you prefer) that are widely used in HR and not just synonyms in English! Yes, this classification is not a very precise one as some of these terms have significantly different connotations (though they are related to the same concept) and as these terms go in and out of fashion! Of course, the 'core of HR' is also not static and it keeps on shifting and evolving!
These are the areas and the terms to describe them that come to mind immediately.
- The work that the employees are supposed to do : Job, Role, Responsibilities, KRAs/Key Result Areas, Tasks, Objectives, Goals, Deliverables, Targets, OKRs/Objectives & Key Results (10)
- The employees’ state of mind : Employee Engagement, Employees Satisfaction, Employee commitment, Employee motivation, Employee Happiness, Employee morale, Employee Experience, Employee mindsets, Employees attitudes, Employee perceptions (10)
- What is in it for the employees : Compensation, Salary, Benefits, Rewards, Recognition, Total Rewards (6)
- Building capability : Training, Learning, Competency development, Capability building, Learning & Development, Accelerated Learning (6)
- Getting employees into the organization : Recruitment, Selection, Hiring, Talent Acquisition, Fulfillment (5)
- Getting employees out of the organization : Termination, Retrenchment, Staff reduction, Staff optimization (4)
- Patterns of behavior : Culture, Climate, Values, Norms (4)
- Managing unionized staff : Industrial Relations, Industrial Discipline, Employee Relations, Employment Relations (4)
- Partnering with business leaders : HR Business partners, HR Relationship Managers, Business HR Managers (3)
- The 'first line of defense' : HR Help-desk, HR Services, HR Operations
- Managing performance : Performance Management, Performance Enablement, Performance Acceleration (3)
- Employees getting out of the organization : Exit, Attrition, Turnover (3)
- Managing careers : Career Planning, Career development, Mass Career Customization (3)
- Career trajectory : Career paths, career ladders, career lattices (3)
- The 'analytical' part : HR Analytics, Workforce Analytics, HRIS Reports (3)
- The 'mystical' part : Organization Development, Organization Effectiveness, Organization Transformation (3)
So, prima facie it appears that ‘what the employees are supposed to do’ and ‘what is there in the minds of the employees’ seem to be the key preoccupations in HR! While the first one is obvious (else, why do we need employees) the second one could be because of its ‘mysterious nature’ and because of the foundations of HR in psychology!
What do you think? Also, please let me know if you can add any more areas in HR (that has a large number of terms associated with them) and/or more terms related to an area that has already been listed!