Welcome to our Employee Engagement Glossary
We hope it’s useful to you and you find it a good resource as a general overview to help you further understand the true scope of employee engagement, agree definitions and terms in how you might educate others, such as leaders and managers and improve employee engagement in your organisation.
Employee engagement is such a big subject and doesn’t really definitively start or stop anywhere completely as it is an ever evolving collective of thoughts, views, actions and theories, all defined by people and their behaviours, our favourite subject. Our employee engagement glossary doesn’t include other HR and Human Capital Management disciplines or strategies such as learning and development HR policies and procedures which obviously have a huge impact on any successful employee engagement strategy and action plan.
Our employee engagement glossary therefore contains a collection of words, terms and phrases we most often hear or use ourselves to help educate and communicate with people to better understand the subject and improve confidence and application of initiatives around the topic. It’s by no means and exhaustive list and we welcome any comments or contributions to help improve the value and usefulness of it for us as practitioners and those reading it.
We genuinely welcome your thoughts or comments on our definitions and explanations. Definition of terms and phrases, particularly in the business domain is like social change, constantly changing and very fluid. Send your feedback to us or tweet @EngageNProsper.
Absenteeism: Voluntary non-attendance at work, without a valid reason. It means either habitual evasion of work, or absence from the workplace. It does (and should not) include the occasional involuntary absence from work due to sickness or accidents. Calculating employee absenteeism (as well as the cost of it) regularly is good practice and trends in increases or decreases is a good indicator of levels of employees satisfaction and engagement.
Absence management: Absence management is about reducing employee absenteeism (usually due to illness or injury) through effective policies and procedures. Some organisations prefer to use the term attendance management as it is considered more positive and this may even extend to rewarding employees for good attendance.
Appreciation: In respect of work, it’s a mindset, a company or organisational culture for providing and encouraging a form of recognition or giving thanks to an employee for an attitude, a view, an action or a behaviour in the work place. Recognition programmes and a creating a recognition and reward culture should be a priority for forward thinking businesses and ones that want to succeed.
All employee: Where all employees have the opportunity to participate in any scheme, programme, or initiative and are not excluded because of their department or employment type (permanent, temporary, full time, part time, contractor or consultant).
ATS: Stands for Applicant Tracking System and is used by suppliers and employers to manage the talent acquisition process, ensuring recruiters and hiring managers are up to date with the status of any open hire and job advertising activity and performance. It’s also a great tool for managing the candidate relationship, though some ATS systems are better at this then others.
Attendance: A measure of presence of employees at work, often measured over a year, taking into account authorised (holidays, illness, compassionate leave) and un-authorised absences (voluntary absence without good cause or reason).
Attrition rate: Calculating your company’s employee attrition rate allows you to determine the percentage of employees that left your business over a specified period of time, usually one year. Attrition includes all employees who leave the company, whether the leaving was voluntarily or involuntarily. An employee who chooses to leave a company for another job is an example of voluntary employee attrition. On the other hand, an employee fired by the company is an example of involuntary attrition. See Employee turnover as this is often confused with the generally accepted and used working definition of attrition.
Audience: Audience is the intended recipients within the business that will receive or be exposed to your employee engagement activities and communications. Always consider the audience receiving your message or event experience and ensure it’s a two way street allowing for feedback that is acknowledged and where possible enacted.
Benefits: Everything in addition to salary as part of an employee’s entitled remuneration. Often include financial contribution benefits such as pension, medical, life insurance, company discount schemes, childcare vouchers, subsidised catering and gym contributions, as well as wellbeing benefits that commonly include elements such as Bike2Work, counselling, personal development, fresh fruit and drinks and volunteering time-off. Sometimes provide to a value as part of a flexible benefits scheme.
Blog: An online collection of views, stories and published content intended for a variety of audiences for any number of reasons be it entertainment, education, promotion or general sharing of news, views and opinions. It’s also great for indexing your website for the content that it contains too so ore people can find the information they are looking for.
Bottom-up communication: When information flows from the lower employment tier of a company upwards towards upper layers and potentially right to the top. For example, frontline workers to senior leaders. The opposite would ‘top-down’ communication.
Brown bag lunch: A brown bag lunch is an informal opportunity for employees to learn at work. Brown bag lunch originally referred to the practice of employees bringing a packed lunch from home or a carry-out lunch to an informal learning opportunity in the workplace. Brown bag lunch, as a term, has come to represent any brief informal employee education or training opportunity that is supplied during work or non-work hours in the workplace. Hence the name, brown bag lunch, recognises that these may be learning opportunities that are supplied during the employees’ lunch break. Brown bag lunches are also held at the beginning or end of a work day, too, and occasionally, during the evening or weekend.
Cascade: The name given to the method of sharing employee communication. ‘To cascade’ regularly refers to the notion of ‘pushing out’ communication ‘top-down’ (e.g. from the senior leaders of an organisation to the rest of the workforce). Cascades are usually one-way, without a feedback mechanism in place.
Channel: A channel is a route, in terms of communication, it is the method or means a message is promoted or delivered. Literally the mode in which information and communication flows. Examples include employee magazine, all employee meeting, intranet, email or video.
Champion: A person or people within an organisation that champion, support and defend the
Collaboration: When people work together to achieve a common purpose. A balanced definition by Melcrum split by business activity and as a business driver is an extremely helpful reference. See this table for more information.
Company or organisational culture: All companies have one or more cultures and even subcultures operating across the business due to the different management teams. Leaders are either trying to change cultures or influence them. Organisational culture encompasses the vision, purpose, values and behaviours that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. It represents the collective values, beliefs and principles of organizational members and is a product of factors such as history, product, market, technology, ownership structure and strategy, type of employees, management style, and national culture. It is “the way things are done around here” and the tapestry of collective behaviours and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving and, even, thinking and feeling. Thus, organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders. In addition, organizational culture can also affect how much employees identify with an organization and how engaged they are with it.
Compensation and benefits: Frequently abbreviated to C&B) is a sub-discipline of human resources, focused on employee compensation and benefits policy-making. It is also known in the UK as “total reward” and as “remuneration”. Compensation is made up of a number of components including fixed and variable pay, benefits (such as pensions, paid holiday) and equity based compensation which ties some of the employees compensation to the longer term performance of a business through shares linked to stock performances.
Copy: Or often now referred to as ‘content’, is the text that is written in an article, script, story or on a page. Header copy, intro or body copy, just means the different parts of text in the article being written. Copy should always be written with the end audience in mind.
Cost to hire: The total cost to attract and recruit new employees. It covers direct recruitment costs – advertising, agencies, consultants, as well as onboarding costs and other administrative, equipment, incentive and relocation costs. Cost-per-hire is a common HR metric.
Crowd-source or crowd-sourcing: This is when ideas, content and conversations are initiated and shaped by a group of people, who each contribute to the final outcome of what they were involved in contributing to.
Culture: This is the behaviour of humans who are part of an organisation and the meanings that people attach to actions. It includes the company’s vision, values, working language (see tone of voice), symbols, beliefs and habits. It’s also the pattern of collective behaviours and assumptions that are taught to new employees. Organisational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with stakeholders and with clients. I like the Deal and Kennedy (1982) definition: “It’s the way things are done around here.” See Company or organisational culture.
Desk-drop: To put items on employees’ desks. Usually as part of a communication campaign and ideally something that they can see the value in and has a clear call to action or benefit.
Discretionary effort: Or ‘going the extra mile’. The effort an employee will put in over and above the direct terms and expectations of their contract of employment and role.
DNS: An acronym used by in-house or agencies recruiters to log or convey attendance status for a recruitment and hiring process, DNS means Did Not Show, an abbreviated code for noting when candidates don’t show up for interview, assessment day or employment start appointment.
E-learning: Learning, training and development delivered remotely via electronic media, e.g. web, apps, video streams. Sometimes called Computer Based Training (CBT) it provides cost advantages and flexibility, although there is a debate about effectiveness and information retention if not done as part of a broader learning and development strategy.
Employee attrition rate: Calculating your company’s employee attrition rate allows you to determine the percentage of employees that left your business over a specified period of time, usually one year. Attrition includes all employees who leave the company, whether the leaving was voluntarily and involuntarily. An employee who chooses to leave a company for another job is an example of voluntary employee attrition. On the other hand, an employee whose employment is terminated by the company for under performance or misconduct for example is an example of involuntary attrition. Calculating the cost of employee attrition to the business is a valuable exercise and should be conducted regularly in order to identify trends or issues needing attention.
Employee benefits: A common term for the non-financial parts of the terms of employment. A major tool used to attract and retain employees and support the Employer Value Proposition. See Benefits.
Employer brand: An Employer Brand becomes the employers story to tell to the inside and outside world. It becomes an even more successful and interesting story once you include the Employee Value Proposition, (known as the EVP) which is typically the reason why people join and stay with a company. It is the message delivered to a target audience about who the business is and what it can offer an employee as a company, as an employer and why this is attractive (or should be) to a potential candidate. This then becomes the backbone underpinning all of the individual and tailored recruitment marketing communications and advertising.
Employee engagement: “A workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.” Plus “Creating the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential.” These definitions are from Engage for Success.
Employee engagement app: A mobile app that works as a standalone employee communications platform to enable two way communications from employer to employee and employee to employer as well as peer to peer communications, (colleague to colleague). Particularly great for cutting through the noise of every growing, bursting at the seams intranets, or overused traditional corporate email inboxes but they really come in to their own with non desk based employees, assisting on-boarding and the total employee experience, handling key corporate news, or crisis communications and are excellent at connecting disparate employees and encouraging a more socialised and collaborative workplace culture. Can be integrated with existing systems.
Employee engagement glossary: What you are reading now and hopefully finding it a good resource as an overview to help you further understand the scope of employee engagement, agree definitions and terms in how you might educate others, leaders and managers and improve employee engagement in your organisation. We welcome additional contributions and comments to improve of Employee Engagement Glossary content to make sure it is useful, relevant and up to date. If you would like to provide feedback or contributions to help evolve our Employee Engagement Glossary for others, email us or call us, we love to have a chat.
Employee experience management: is defined as what an employee received (or experienced) during their own interaction with careers’ elements (e.g. firms, supervisors, colleagues, coworkers, customers, environment, etc.) from a specific organisation, that affect their cognition and affection and which leads to their particular behaviours being either towards or away from that business as an employer and even potentially as a customer.
Employee Focus Group: Specifically for employees and for all kinds of reasons to gain more in depth information pre or post a wider engagement or research activity. See Focus Group or our helpful blog article on how to run a successful employee focus group.
Employee owned organisations: Organisations run for the benefit of their employees as owners. The business can be wholly or majority owned by the employees, including management, either directly and/or directly and indirectly via trusts. Ownership can be structured in a number of ways and for a number of purposes.
There are various models of employee ownership in the UK. There are those businesses owned 100% by employees, or on behalf of employees, businesses with partial employee ownership and businesses who operate share options schemes. Typically such organisations exhibit higher productivity, employee engagement, and levels of innovation and well-being. Well known examples are partnerships such as John Lewis and professional services organisations such as lawyers, accountants and management consultants. The contribution of employee owned businesses to the economy is growing. Employee owned companies in the UK normally take one of the following forms:
Direct ownership – Employees can be ‘direct’ owners of the business by becoming registered shareholders of the Company they work for. The employees may become shareholders through the use of a tax advantaged share scheme such as a Share Incentive Plan.
Indirect ownership – In this form the shares are held collectively on behalf of the employees, normally through an employee benefit trust. The employees become ‘beneficiaries’ of the trust rather than registered shareholders in their own right. The trust might hold the shares in perpetuity or distribute them to individual employees, or a mix of both.
Hybrid – A hybrid of ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ ownership is used by a number of successful employee owned companies so that the employees can benefit from share ownership and the business can benefit from the stability afforded by the trust holding a substantial holding of shares.
Employee Relationship Management (ERM): An approach to a holistic 360 view of the employee relationship with the employer as a whole. Putting the employee at the heart of the business both in a collective and one-to-one perspective.Considering the employee as a willing participant that can demonstrate a varied extent of being engaged or disengaged dependent on the relationship. A strong ERM programme helps ensure that employees are central to overall performance and both financial and operation through effective regular collaboration. Often brought to life by an online ERM hub or platform where specific relevant employee based content can be communicated and facilitate self serving engagement, collaboration and contribution.
Employee survey: Also wrongly confused with an employee satisfaction survey or employee engagement survey. An employee (or staff) survey is exactly that, a survey to employees. The purpose of it and the subject it seeks to understand is what it should be prefixed with. If it’s to measure engagement, it’s an engagement survey if its satisfaction, then it’s a satisfaction survey. Some employee surveys do include a part on engagement and maybe a bit on satisfaction too. Using a third party to help create and conduct the survey as well as analyse the results, helps employees’ confidence and participation levels. An external specialist is also more able to be objective and help to create an action plan that helps address any areas for improvement.
Employee turnover: Refers to the number or percentage of all workers who leave an organisation over a set period (often on a yearly basis) and are more often replaced by new employees. This could be described as overall or crude employee turnover. Measuring more specific segments and breakdowns of turnover data such as resignation levels can be helpful to employers that want to examine and address the reasons for this turnover and work to address their people management effectiveness at their organisation. It’s also helpful in estimating the cost-to-hire for budget purposes and for planning more effective recruitment advertising and talent attraction activities. See our calculators to help work out the cost of attrition or absenteeism calculator in your organisation.
Employee value proposition (EVP): A means of attracting, retaining and engaging employees. It is the deal that defines what an employee can expect from an employer and vice-versa. It forms the basis for branding and communication and aligns culture, mission and values, rewards, roles, purpose and people. An effective EVP enables an organisation to stand out as different in their market place but also it ensures that the ‘packaging’ reflects the ‘contents’. All too often people join organisations tempted by the ‘branding’ and are disappointed when they experience the reality resulting in a bad and costly experience for both employee and employer. If an organisation is international, a localised EVP should also be created and adapted as
Employee voice: A term used to describe a vehicle or a platform or a philosophy where the views, thoughts, opinions and contributions from employees can be heard, documented or discussed. The Macleod Report (MacLeod and Clarke 2009) explain employee voice as: Employees’ views are sought out; they are listened to and see that their opinions count and make a difference. They speak out and challenge when appropriate. A strong sense of listening and of responsiveness permeates the organisation. The CIPD research on employee voice is helpful in bringing this more to life.
Engage for Success: A movement dedicated to employee engagement in the UK following a government commissioned research paper and publication by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke in 2009. The Macleod Report is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the benefits and universal drivers of employee engagement and the Engage for Success website offers lots of useful information on the subject.
E-Newsletter or E-Zine: Literally an electronic-magazine. Comes in various forms and sizes from a static email to an all signing flip style interactive online website similar to a printed magazine. A living breathing communications tactic that when done well with engaging content fosters a strong sense of community whilst conveying helpful and interesting information that will benefit both the organisation and the employee. Particularly important for employees that are more remote either field based or home working whom may not be amongst other colleagues on a regular basis.
Exit survey: Used at the exit interview to ascertain why an employee is leaving and objectively gather consistent, objective information and analysis to feed back into the organisation with the view to understand areas for improvement and any common areas for employees leaving an organisation. Timing of this survey is essential for engaging with the leaving employee and gaining honest and productive feedback as well as maintaining a positive employer employee relationship for potential re-employment in the future. Learnings from this collective feedback are critical in helping to shape the talent attraction strategy, identify any organizational culture issues and any broad or specific managerial issues that may come to light through the process.
Face-to-face or f2f: When conversations or meetings take place in person between two or more people as opposed to over the phone or other one dimensional means. More personal and generally much more effective as all senses of communication is experienced and intuitively responded to in the moment making for much better communication and outcomes on both sides.
Feedback: Asking for views and opinions on a given subject. Also used in the context of ‘feedback loop’, which can be tie bound, ad-hoc or continuous, depending on the subject or the need for feedback. Continuous feedback in general from employees is where an organisation wants to aim for.
Focus group: A small selection of people, or a series of groups depending on the sample size of views being sought (often employees or buyers / customers), who are asked to give honest opinions on a subject or product. With employees focus groups where possible should be cross-functional, multi location and ensure staff at every job level, function and pay grade are represented. Group interaction in focus groups is more beneficial than one-to-one surveys alone and offers far greater insight into why certain views are held than non face to face conducted alternatives such as online surveys or telephone interviews. An impartial moderator conducting the sessions often leads to more honest and useful involvement and feedback from the group.
Formal recognition: The formal acknowledgement and communication to an employee by other employees or given on behalf of the employer by a senior member of staff within a recognition programme for an employee’s exceptional contribution.
Glossary: List explaining the meaning of different words, expressions or terms. Like this one. A great way of helping communicate the individual acronyms and vernacular language specific to a business or the industry that business operate in. Again like this glossary, its specifically centered around the vocabulary used in employee engagement, employer branding, talent attraction, recruitment and communications. See Employee Engagement Glossary for what we think about glossaries.
Gifts: Provision of an item or experience to an employee, either unexpectedly or as part of an incentive, and either sourced and purchased from within the organisation or from a supplier organisation. Gifts attract benefit-in-kind taxation, as does the tax amount due if paid on behalf of the employee. The giving of gifts to employees when used in reinforcing the company values, applied fairly, consistently and responsibly help to strengthen the organisational appreciation of employees by the employer and often the direct relationship between the giver and the recipient.
Gift cards: An expedient form of gift provision. Often retailer specific and can only be used in that retailer for purchases or generic – e.g. Love2Shop, which can be used in any of the partner retailers that are signed up to their scheme.
Hertzberg: Frederik Hertzberg (1923-2000), a clinical psychologist and major force behind modern motivation and management thinking with his book The Motivation to Work, introduced the concept of job enrichment and propounded the Motivation-Hygiene theory, or the two-factor theory of job satisfaction, where people are influenced by two sets of differing (as opposed to opposing) factors: hygiene factors that are essential to work – toilets, rest areas, furniture, base pay, security – they themselves do not motivate but their absence can decrease motivation; and motivational factors – recognition, promotion prospects, and the role itself.
Hierarchical communication: See top-down communication.
HR: Human Resources. The broad and universally accepted title for roles and functions that involve the operational and strategic elements of people in an organisation. Roles include the acquisition, engagement, performance and management of the people employed in a business to perform work as well as the regulatory and legal aspects of their employment terms and individual needs and behaviour. The term Human Resources in job titles is now outdated and a trend to more people focused job titles where employees are seen as the critical contributing factor in how valuable a business is able to fully realise its value proposition in the market place and maintain or grow its competitive advantage by increasing customer acquisition, retention and loyalty.
Internal communication (IC): Not always restricted to ‘internal’ audiences, as it’s more about the business from an inside and operational perspective whereas marketing deal with the public or customer perspective. So Internal Comms is communication inside an organisation between a company and its audiences, which can include employees, contractors, shareholders, suppliers, stakeholders, unions, the community, potential employees and more. It includes both informal and formal communication and where it is described as Employee communication, this is because the employee is the intended audience and communications with be structured, delivered and aimed wholly with them in mind.
In-house internal communication: When a communications professional is literally inside an organisation – working for them directly and in a dedicated manner, rather than working for an internal communication agency or other 3rd party. It could be on a temporary or permanent basis, depending on the need.
Incentives: An award, monetary or non-monetary paid for results achieved incremental to base remuneration for achievements set by the business. Commission in the sales arena is a common form of incentive. Incentives often address tactical concerns and can be part of a formalised incentive scheme.
Incentive scheme: A formal scheme open to specific employees where performance and achievement is rewarded with incremental payments of cash, gifts, entitlements or experiences. Formal schemes have defined performance levels and are often branded with associated communication and recognition strategies. Incentive schemes are common in sales and service environments.
Induction: The process for introducing and acclimatising new employees to their role and organisation as quickly as possible. Induction programmes are typically short, occur in the first few weeks and are consistent for all new employees, whereas onboarding is a longer, more complex process that integrates new employees into an organisation’s values and culture, and is more role and seniority specific.
Informal recognition: Recognition of an employee’s contribution outside of any formal recognition programme. It is often spontaneous and delivered on the spot, at team meetings or via internal communications such as email.
Internal comms plan: How and what the company is communicating. Typically one plan per topic/campaign. You need a structured approach to connect desired business outcomes with effective, relevant activities and tactics and it should be linked to the goals of your business. Think about the desired behaviours first (what you want employees to think/feel/do/say differently) before choosing channels. IC plans should include information such as strategy, tactics, channels/methods of communication, measurement, budget, audiences, timescales, key messages and sensitivities. Check out this nine-step plan from Melcrum.
Intranet: An intranet is an internal website that employees in an organisation can access. It often contains company news, employee achievements and work anniversaries, internal job vacancies, policies, people images, employee directory, organisational charts and when used well also acts as an engagement platform for both the employer and the employees to share thoughts ideas and views etc. Often one of the first places that new employees see, and full of information that can aid the employee on-boarding process or induction. Intranets are still often under utilised in this area.
Internal social media: The generic name given to communication inside an organisation using social tools, technologies and mindset. Tools can include enterprise social networks, wikis, blogs and much more.
Jargon: Overly technical or concise terminology words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others not in that profession or group to understand the meaning of. It often leads to confusion or a lack of understanding which is why the public sector have Plain English policies in communication to make sure that as many people as possible will understand the message being conveyed if it is written in plain English and not overly complicated.
Key message: Your key message, also called take-aways is the most important pieces of information that are to be conveyed through your communication, sometimes described as learnings outcomes in an education communications piece. Ideally no more than three key messages and if possible backed up through a written communications piece as a re-enforcer as any more than three is less likely to be remembered.
Leadership communications: Term given to how the most senior people in an organisation share information. This can be with their peers or people in any part of an organisation. Typically leadership communication includes formal business updates, such as presentations at an all employee meeting, written information in the annual report, informal face-to-face briefing sessions, blog, vlog. Key is to understand the communication preference of your leaders and advise appropriate channels for them to make the most of their natural style. However not all leaders have a style so conducive to helping them achieve the vision they want for the organisation. So helping to support that through other channels and platforms is a great way of optimising their intent even if it is not in the ability or comfort zone.
Learning and development: Sometimes referred to as training and development , it is a process where individual, team and organisational skills and knowledge requirements are identified and programmes put in place to improve and align them with the organisations vision, values and goals.
Long service awards: Employee recognition schemes to honour those who have worked in the industry or company. Previously marked in increments of five years and now more typically celebrated and recognised at two years or more. It’s an opportunity for employers and managers to genuinely celebrate the contribution and hard work and employee has made in their time with the business. An opportunity sadly missed by any employers, a thank you said well, goes a really long way and people are often very proud of how long they have been with a business.
MacLeod report: See Engage for Success.
Managers’ discretionary reward: The freedom for a manager to provide reward and/or recognition within a recognition programme and outside of the terms of the programme. It is often a way of formalising and rewarding informal recognition, and empowering managers to be able to effectively and efficiently reinforce values and behaviours.
Mass communication: How individuals and companies relay information through external communication to large segments of the population at the same time. Can refer to newspapers, magazines and books plus radio, film and TV. Focuses on a single source transmitting information to a large group of receivers. Can’t be customised for individual receivers and difficult to obtain feedback.
Maslow: Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) an American psychologist and professor wanted to understand what motivates people and is famous for creating his hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health based on the fulfilment of innate needs in priority. His work has had a profound effect on management and motivation thinking and, whilst not without its critics, is one of the most cited in the world of employee engagement and used to justify programmes and strategies relating to employee performance and wellbeing.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Maslow believed people possess an innate set of motivators unrelated to rewards or unconscious desires and stated people are motivated to achieve certain needs in order. His five stage model, often illustrated as a hierarchical pyramid with the most fundamental needs at the bottom ( and more recently expanded upon), divides into basic or deficiency needs and growth needs – self-actualisation. The basic needs are said to motivate people if unmet, and motivate stronger the longer they are unmet. These needs have to be met in order to be able to progress, and are: physiological – food, water, shelter, sleep, warmth, sex; safety – security, law, order, freedom from fear; social – friendship, love, affection and intimacy; esteem – achievement, independence, status, prestige, self-respect, dominance, respect from others; and self-actualisation – self-fulfilment and realising potential, personal growth and peak experiences.
Measurement: See evaluation
Melcrum: Melcrum was set up by Victoria Mellor and Robin Crumby to elevate the role of internal communication as a critical driver of superior business performance. Working alongside organisations to help build skills and best practice in internal communication, access to its many research papers and articles is available on their website.
Meme: is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. An internet meme is an activity, concept, catchphrase or piece of media which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the internet most typically via social media platforms. Often it is of a humorous or satirical in nature though not always.
Memo: A fairly old fashioned term given to an internal message. Previously issued as an A4 letter and held some official weight, now ore often used for regulation or safety communication and sent via email though becoming less common.
Message: See also key message. The message is the information/communication you wish to convey to the receiver.
Morale: A gauge of a person or groups mental condition in respect of confidence, cheerfulness, willingness and zeal. Especially used to refer to mental or team cohesion and belief in a goal or organisation when faced with hardship or opposition.
Motivation: In general terms it concerns the psychological forces that shape and direct a person’s level of effort and determination. It concerns their desire to achieve and apply themselves. people are motivated differently and at different life stages. How to motivate staff is a constant question for business leaders and managers.
Nuances: In the workplace this relates to the specific way or common characteristics that something is administered, conveyed or actioned, i.e.
NDA: Non Disclosure Agreement.
Offline employees: People who do not have ready access to technology in an organisation, typically they are not desk or office based. Also known as ‘unconnected employees’ or ‘remote workers’, examples often include warehouse workers or drivers. Many organisations are increasingly using smartphones and other methods to communicate with them and employees are often quite happy to provide their own personal email addresses in order to be included in schemes that benefit them such as employee benefits and reward and recognition.
Offsite: Name given to an event that takes place away from the usual place of work, such as team building days, sometimes referred to as an away day..
Onboarding: Can also be described as employee induction – title given to bringing employees (or customers from a new client perspective which is where the term has most likely originated) into an organisation and the start of their employment. It primary purpose is equipping them with the most relevant knowledge they may need to help feel part of the company and become as productive as possible as quickly as possible. E.g. The values and behaviours of the company, it’s cultural, organisational structures, key people, acronyms and ways of working. Often provided in conjunction with a training and induction process over a period of weeks in the early stages of employment but more forward thinking companies now start a form of it before the employee even starts and from their confirmed appointment, we call it pre-boarding.
PDP: Personal Development Plan (or Personal Development Review, PDR). Typically an annual process to analyse an employee’s performance which may or may not be linked to organisational goals or performance requirements. Sometimes linked to pay appraisals.
PDR: Personal Development Review (or Personal Development Plan, PDP). Annual process to analyse an employee’s performance. See PDP.
Peer-to-peer communication: Also known as lateral communication or horizontal communication. This is the opposite of hierarchical top-down or bottom-up communication, and is when information is shared ‘between ‘equals’ in an organisation.
Peer-to-peer recognition: Also known as employee to employee recognition and exists only as it was mainly managers that could give recognition to an employee in an informal or formal sense and so it is simply when the an employee recognises another employee in an organisation through whatever means.
Perks: A term used informally to refer to something extra, or an advantage, you get as part of your employment. Can be items such as a car, phone, laptop, or other aspects like location or facilities, hence ‘perks of the job’. From perquisites, and historically used to describe executive benefits and entitlements.
Performance review: Sometimes referred to as an appraisal, is a process of evaluation and review of job performance. Often formally undertaken annually they may require input from peers, managers and colleagues, and result in a performance rating. Less formal reviews may take place at more frequent intervals and inform the annual one, and critics will point to their rigid and inflexible nature, and doubt their effectiveness if not integrated into a performance related pay strategy.
Performance improvement: A term commonly used to refer to either an individual’s performance plan as an outcome of performance management, or to a group or team programme designed to raise performance levels, and sustain them, across an organisation. Components of a performance improvement programme are often measurement, research, incentives and rewards, recognition and communications. They tend to be longer term than more tactical, short-term incentives.
Podcast: A multimedia digital file made available on the internet for downloading to a portable media player or computer and to be listened to when convenient other than when it was recorded or originally broadcasted.
Productivity: Refers to the effectiveness of effort and measures outputs for given inputs. Its simplest form is where measurements are objective and clear – output per hour or per capita or per £. Raising productivity helps improve profitability. It is a term universally used but harder to pin down in service based organisations, the NHS being an example.
Quote: Either a short saying or statement attributed to someone. Or an amount for a piece of work – e.g. to quote for an employee magazine means to present the costs.
Recognition: The acknowledgement, formally or informally, publicly or privately, of an employee’s exceptional performance or achievement in supporting the aims and culture of the employer. It may have an accompanying reward, however it is distinct from incentives and rewards.
Recognition culture: A general attitude and ethos toward recognition as a valid and essential approach at work with employees and management. Driven and supported by leadership as well as employees it is embedded in the people culture, attitudes, values and behaviours in the day to day operations and decision making.
Recognition programmes: Formal organisation orientated programmes that recognise and reward performance and behaviours of employees that support the goals, values, culture and initiatives of the organisation. Recognition programmes are at the heart of improving employee engagement, and are most effective when access and participation covers the whole organisation, structures and rewards are aligned with the vision, mission and values and behaviours of the company and communication of effort, attitude and achievement is timely and relevant.
Recognition scheme: The same as Recognition programme.
Recruitment: The process of attracting and employing new employees. The approach and strategy will differ according to the degree of seniority or specialism of a position, budget available, compensation and benefits, local and industry specific competition, employer brand and EVP as well as the need of the business hiring. Companies may choose to manage the recruitment of staff directly in-house or by using a number of external providers including outsourced staffing or recruitment agencies, staffing companies, head hunters or managed service operators. They may also choose to employ a number of solutions for specific recruitment needs depending on a variety of factors including each role type, resource available to manage the hiring process in-house, the quantity of employee required as well as the urgency in filling vacancies.
Remuneration: Simply the payment for work given by the employee and paid by the employer as money (wages, salary, bonuses), benefits and allowances.
Retention: Employee retention is a critical to achieving long term successful, profitable and stable organisations. Recruiting and hiring is expensive and much knowledge is lost with talented employees leaving a business. New starters take time to resource, on board and get up to speed. See our employee attrition calculator to see the potential cost at your organisation if your retention strategy is not effective.
Reward: A broad term used to describe total earnings and benefits from employment, or benefits (monetary or non-monetary) earned in excess of base remuneration from participation and achievement in recognition, reward or incentive programmes.
Reward programme: Applied, perhaps confusingly, mostly to loyalty based programmes that are outside the terms of employment, but whose benefit can be gained through employment. Frequent flyer programmes, financial services and shopping programmes are examples. May also be applied to internal programmes where rewards are available for additional effort or actions undertaken.
Salary: A contractual, periodic payment by an employer to an employee for an agreed role at an agreed rate. Mostly expressed as an annual amount and exclusive of tax and other charges, it contrasts with wages which are paid by job, time or piece.
Salary sacrifice: An agreement between an employee and an employer reducing the employees entitlement to taxable cash pay in return for a non-cash benefit wholly or partially exempt from tax and national insurance contributions – e.g. childcare vouchers, cycle to work scheme, approved employer pension contribution or additional holiday leave. Often it is a benefit financially to both the employer as well as the employee and adds to the employees benefits package as well as the employees total rewards offering. This also helps to enhance an employers EVP. (Employer Value Proposition) and helps in the talent attraction and retention strategy. See EVP.
SLT or SMT: Senior Leadership Team or Senior Management Team. Can also be referred to as ‘The Exec’ of C-Suite and is usually the Directors and most senior employees of a company.
Social business: Social business creates an environment of connected conversations; empowering and equipping everyone it impacts (internally and externally) to drive personal and organisational success..
Standup meeting: Brief daily or weekly get together, typically 10 or 15 minutes. Usually one way commmunication of daily missions/process updates etc. Great for focus and short term information.
Staff survey: Typically an annual research exercise to ask employees their opinions on key topics. A personal bugbear is a survey without an accompanying action plan – please don’t forget to build in a way to actually act on the feedback you get! Also known as employee survey. Most organisations outsource collating responses to a third party, who can also analyse the results.
Stakeholders: This is a broadly used term for segmented audiences or people an individual may have an exclusive audience with. In respect of internal audiences in general, it is the people who have an interest or influence in or to your organisation. So that could be customers, the community, union officials, the press, shareholders etc. Within the marketing and internal communications context, stakeholders are audiences to be considered and communicated with about the right things at the right time and in the right way in order to help achieve your immediate and long term strategy.
Strategy: A plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. Includes setting the approach, the goals and choosing the most appropriate tactics to achieve success. From a engagement perspective this includes identifying the channels and methods of communication as well as the suppliers or partners that will help deliver them as well as the on-going of evaluation. Your employee engagement strategy should be linked to all other strategies and essentially your overall business strategy or corporate strategy.
Style guide: Larger or more marketing savvy organisations use an agency to help them create their own style guides. This is a brand document that includes the correct spellings of important words (aka your house style), the brand colours (see Pantone), typography and how to refer to people, situations and scenarios in the company. It may be incorporated into your brand guidelines or corporate identity, CI. If you’re looking for a style guide, Rachel Miller from AllthingsIC twitter @AllthingsIC recommends the Guardian’s and I couldn’t agree more.
Sub: To sub means to edit text and can include constructing and proof-reading. Publishers employ sub-editors to edit the work of journalists.
Table tents: Folded paper that forms the shape of a tent. Typically used to display limited information on a table or flat surface. Typically used in employee staff rooms, restaurants or other areas employees dwell.
Talent acquisition: The process of finding and acquiring employees with specific skills to meet a specific organisational need. It differs to recruitment in being more strategic and addresses the longer term needs of the organisation, recruitment fills posts and is a sub-set of talent acquisition.
Talent attraction: The ability of an organisation to be visible, reachable and desirable to talented individuals. It refers primarily, but not exclusively, to the worlds of digital and social media, and successful organisations have a clear employee value proposition.
Talent retention: The ability of an organisation to retain and develop employees with specific and desired talents. Retention is a key strategic goal for many organisations with highly skilled employees given the costs of attraction and recruitment.
Target group: Better referred to as a segmented or specific audience. It really is just a term used to describe a distinct set of people that share a common the set of characteristics, either simply as being employees or a subset of employees that share a common trait at a given time, all about to go on maternity, all work in the warehouse etc.
Tone of voice: This is the language and personality of your organisation. Like an individual, any identity is more easily recognised by consistencies in communication, and these characteristics that create a consistent pattern include the words, the actual vocabulary and the tone used to convey messages and information. Typically a brand identity will include tone of voice and any guidance around the style and use of certain phrases and words that are to be displayed or positioned in a specific way. Doing this maintains the consistency of the brand and helps reflect the brand values and if specific to an employee audience the company values and culture too.
Top-down communication: When company information flows from the head or higher hierarchies of an organisation. Typically the CEO or senior leadership through to the volume contingent workforce or operational frontline workers. Also referred to as hierarchical communication. The opposite is bottom-up communication.
Total reward: According to the CIPD the concept of total reward encompasses all aspects of work that are valued by employees, including elements such as learning and development opportunities and/or an attractive working environment, in addition to the wider pay and benefits package. Learn more from the CIPD. It is also referred to as Compensation and Benefits by HR professionals.
Total reward statement: An annual statement produced for the employee and employer to document the total benefits the employee received from the employer and any liabilities due on parties each side
Town hall: Again a term from the States, typically an annual or infrequent all-employee gathering where the business shares important information, usually change focussed or announcing yearly results and any major changes to strategy, such as acquisitions or new services.
Traditional communication: As in pre-internet. Usually means printed materials such as employee magazines, posters, team briefs, plus sales promotional items such as mugs, mouse mats and furry bugs.
Twitter: A social network that enables users to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world by subjects, interests and views. Twitter glossary from Mashable
User generated content: In respect of Employee Engagement and Internal communications. When employees are able to contribute content, words, views, through text, pictures, or videos through a variety of means, platforms and for any form of employee collaboration and engagement purpose. A great way to connect employees with the organisation and values and provide valuable insight to trends, topics both inside and outside the organisation that affects the success of recruiting and customer acquisition and satisfaction.
Values: A set of words or phrases that demonstrate how an organisation will achieve its vision. Often short, snappy phrases or singular words underpinned with a strap-line.
Video interviewing: An already fairly popular (and becoming more a main stream method) used to initially appraise filtered or shortlisted candidates following the initial application and screening stage following a job application. Great way of enabling a richer evaluation experience for recruiters as how someone comes over on a video interview, may be very appropriate to a key skill for the job the recruiter is recruiting for. I.E. A sales person should be confident and able to think quickly when talking to a prospect. Understanding the questions posed and being able to put their best foot forward in terms of a recorded response, should be very natural for a experienced sales person.
Vlog: Video blogging, seeing and hearing, as opposed to just reading.
Vox pop: A derivative of the Latin phrase meaning ‘voice of the people’. Most widely used by programme presenters to gain views and opinions in small numbers of public opinion ‘the man on the street’ on more light hearted and casual topics. Recently adopted as a casual and fun way to gain insight about a subject from existing or potential customers and of course views from employees about issues or working in a business.
Vision: The aspiration of the future of an organisation – what they want it to be, underpinned by the corporate strategy, sales and marketing plans, as well as the values of the business and the people who lead and work for it, how they will get there.
Water cooler moment / conversation: First coined in the States, where the water cooler culture started. Regarded as a safe place, where employees can share thoughts and views that they can’t or wouldn’t want to at their desks or within ear shot of their managers. Often the first place they go, or gather with peers to share conversation following an announcement or major event. Could equally be at lunch, at the coffee machine or at a cigarette break, wherever the “watercooler” conversation is, it’s typically the hot topics and worth knowing about to address any concerns.
Webinar / webcast: Online presentation that employees can dial in to using computers (and/or phones for the audio). Great for sharing information with employees at the same time and often used for training. A variety of software providers paid and free from joinme, meetme to Webex. Features include presenter sharing, annotations, live chats and question and answer sessions.
WIIFM: Acronym, What’s in it for Me? One of the essential cornerstones when it comes to planning the content and structure of internal communications. It is an essential consideration when writing any content for whatever purpose, be that external communications or internal; selling to customers, influncing channel partners, updating colleagues, negotiating with suppliers or communicating with patients, residents or other non commercially motivated or dependent relationship audiences. Most commonly used in Internal Communications strategies to ensure the reader (external stakeholders, leadership teams or employees) position has been fully considered as to how they may interpret the communication . The What’s in it for Me? One of the cornerstones when it comes to planning the content and structure of internal communications.
Yammer: A freemium enterprise social networking service that was launched in 2008 and sold to Microsoft in 2012 for US$1.2 billion. Yammer is used for private communication within organisations and is an example of enterprise social software.
Zap: To move, strike, smash, kill, control, as suddenly and with great speed and force. Associated with a lot of energy and can be used to describe the force and speed of communication or change.
Zeitguist: Not exclusive to employee engagement of course but we think so relevant to the success of improving and sustaining it as well as having a huge impact on employee motivation. Zeitguist, the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time. “the story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s”. It’s the dominant set of ideals and beliefs that motivate the actions of the members of a society in a particular period in time.
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Engage & Prosper is a UK based privately owned Employee Engagement Consultancy and Social Enterprise, on a mission to help organisations develop a highly productive and fulfilling workplace culture, together with their people, through enhanced employee engagement strategies, fabulous and effective internal communications platforms and tailored reward and recognition programmes.
For more information on Engage & Prosper or to discover how we can help you achieve your organisational goals please call +44 (0) 330 223 0464 or find out more at www.engageandprosper.com