Employee Wellbeing
August 30, 2023

UK HR Jargon Dictionary: 20 Key Phrases and What They Mean

A list of 20 words and phrases popular with HR folk, along with their meaning.

Hilda Bahringer
4 minutes

Human resources (HR) has its own set of specialised terminology that can sometimes be confusing for those not familiar with the field. To help you navigate the world of HR in the UK, here's a dictionary of 20 common HR jargon words along with their explanations.


Understanding HR jargon is essential for effective communication and decision-making in the human resources field. This dictionary provides explanations for 20 commonly used HR jargon words in the UK.

List of 20 HR Jargon Words in the UK

  1. Absence Management: The process of monitoring and addressing employee absences to ensure productivity and compliance with policies.
  2. Appraisal: A formal assessment of an employee's performance, skills, and accomplishments, often conducted annually.
  3. Disciplinary Action: Steps taken by employers to address and rectify employee behaviour or performance issues, following established procedures.
  4. Employee Engagement: The level of commitment, enthusiasm, and loyalty that employees have towards their work and the organisation.
  5. Flexible Working: Arrangements that allow employees to work outside traditional office hours or locations, promoting work-life balance.
  6. Grievance: A formal complaint or concern raised by an employee about their work conditions, treatment, or treatment by colleagues or superiors.
  7. Hiring Freeze: A temporary suspension of hiring new employees due to budget constraints, restructuring, or other reasons.
  8. Induction: The process of introducing new employees to the organisation, its culture, policies, and procedures.
  9. Job Description: A detailed document outlining the roles, responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations of a specific job.
  10. Key Performance Indicator (KPI): A measurable metric used to evaluate and quantify an employee's or team's performance and contribution.
  11. Layoff: A temporary or permanent termination of employment due to factors such as downsizing, restructuring, or economic challenges.
  12. Maternity Leave: Time off granted to expectant mothers around the birth of their child, protected by law in the UK.
  13. Onboarding: The process of integrating new employees into the organisation, including orientation, training, and socialization.
  14. Performance Appraisal: The formal evaluation of an employee's work performance and contribution, often used to inform compensation decisions.
  15. Redundancy: The termination of an employee's position due to changes in business needs, often accompanied by severance packages.
  16. Sick Leave: Paid or unpaid time off granted to employees who are ill or unable to work due to health reasons.
  17. Talent Management: The strategic process of attracting, developing, and retaining skilled employees to meet organisational goals.
  18. Unconscious Bias: Implicit attitudes or stereotypes that influence decisions and actions, often without awareness.
  19. Whistleblowing: Reporting illegal, unethical, or unsafe practices within an organisation to higher authorities or regulatory bodies.
  20. Workplace Diversity: The presence of individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, genders, and experiences in the workplace.


Mastering HR jargon is essential for effective communication and decision-making in the HR field. This dictionary provides explanations for 20 common HR jargon words in the UK, helping professionals navigate their way through HR conversations with confidence.

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