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The Essential HR Term Glossary for 2017

Technology has caused a conglomeration of change in the workforce and in HR over the last several years. Studies have shown that the world of work has changed more in the last eight years than in the 40 years before that. In fact, Business Insider lists 39 ways in which the workforce has changed emphatically in just the last couple of years.

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No industry is excluded from this transfiguration. This change will impact each segment different depending on external and internal variables exclusive to that particular industry. The issues most affecting HR teams in regards to the evolution of the workforce include budget cuts, baby boomer retirements, leadership development, and diversity. Click here to download our eBook detailing these changes in the Higher Education industry.


These issues, along with the transformation and complete upheaval of the traditional workforce, have resulted in several new and/or updated terms. HR professionals need to be cognizant of these terms to stay relevant in their strategic planning.

Here are the 9 Terms HR Professionals Need To Know

1) “Silver Tsunami”

The silver tsunami refers to the mass amount of baby boomer retirements paced to impact the workforce over the next decade. On average, there will be 10,000 retirements each day of people in this generation. This change will be the impetus of workforce planning at organizations, as many industries will be impacted due to their large number of baby boomer employees and their desire to work longer tenures.

2) Retirement Lifestyle Planning

This is a new form of counseling that institutions and companies are providing to baby boomers. Unlike of yore retirement financial counseling, this type of coaching focuses on counseling boomers on their overall lifestyle after exiting from the organization. Studies have shown that social interaction is the most missed aspect of work for retirees. This separates from the traditional thought that retirees miss financial regularity the most after exiting from work. This counseling can help retirees prepare for these life changes, as well as start the conversation about retirement with reluctant retirees. Download our checklist to prepare for reluctant retiree conversations here.

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3) Phased Retirement

This is a term used to explain the new age of retirement exits, with a focus on malleable arrangements. Traditionally, when an employee exited from an organization there was a hard stop date where all ties were severed. In this new type of arrangement, potential retirees and employers can create a phased plan over several years. This plan can include a reduced workload, telecommuting options, part-time work, or even volunteering.

4) Reverse Mentoring

Mentoring is a very traditional and effective way to develop junior level employees of an organization. Reverse mentoring is founded around the same philosophy as mentoring, except that it focuses on a two-way flow of knowledge as opposed to a singular flow. This can be important in organizations where there is a large age disparity. For example, a baby boomer mentor can indoctrinate a millennial on ways to network at events, execute amazing presentations for executives, and overall office etiquette. A millennial could then reverse mentor their paired baby boomer on effective online networking strategies, and new technology they learned while studying at a university. Many executives have stated that reverse mentoring is their source for staying adaptable and innovative in their market space.

5) Progressivism

While many find this term to have a political meaning, in terms of workplace HR it has a different vignette. Millennials are the most tolerant and diverse generation to ever enter the workforce. When looking for career opportunities, they value employers who mirror this diversity and tolerance. Policies that don’t disparately or adversely impact the generation’s diversity or high tolerance levels are seen as the gold standard in workplace progressivism.

6) Inclusion

Many workplace policies have been drafted for the purpose of creating a diverse work environment. Swaths of people from all generations have come to realize that inclusion, rather than diversity, should be the terminus. In the eyes of millennials, diversity refers only to the sheer volume of people from different backgrounds that are present in your workforce. Inclusion rather focuses on the ability of the workforce to integrate this diversity to reach a new harmony that focuses on openness, belonging, and celebration of different backgrounds.

7) Plurality

As millennials are the most diverse generation, the workforce should also reflect this shift. While in the past many groups have had a difference in ethnicities resulting in a majority/minority relationship, a plurality is now more common than not when reflecting the demographics of the millennial generation. This term is rooted in voting processes, with the prescriptive definition being that of having the most amount of votes, yet not the majority. When applying this to the workforce, it means that not one ethnicity will hold majority over a minority group. As minority groups in the workforce grow, the workforce will shift to a plurality.

8) New Age HR

This term is not necessarily new, as it has been around for several years. However, what it means now is completely divergent of what it has meant in the past. Several years ago, “New Age HR” referred to the shift of Human Resources as a purely administrative function to a more strategic partner in a business. In today’s climate, the term refers to HR programs that are more in sync with the expectations of the changing world of work. Examples of this would be work from home arrangements, unlimited PTO, bring your dog to work policies, etc.

9) Millennial Disruption

Similar to the “silver tsunami”, this term is used to define a generational movement of people moving upwards into the workforce. Millennials aren’t just young college students, they are people born any time between 1980-2000, age 17-37. This means that in the next election cycle a millennial could potentially run for the highest office in the United States. The expectations and different needs of millennials compared to other generations will cause disruption in every industry, as policies will have to be acclimated to retain and attract them.

Interested in learning more about how the exit of baby boomers from organizations will cause disruption? Register for our upcoming webinar on the topic here.

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