HR Basics Glossary Terms

Understanding the complexities of HR requires familiarity with its key terminology and concepts. To help you navigate the ever-changing HR landscape and deepen your knowledge of HR practices, technologies, and methodologies, we've compiled a comprehensive glossary of essential industry terms.

We aim to keep this glossary current and relevant, updating it with new entries on emerging topics like artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the latest trends in employee benefits and compensation. Whether you're an experienced HR professional, a business leader, or someone new to the field, this glossary will help you grasp the intricacies of HR, payroll, and people management principles.


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Analytics tools enable HR teams to interpret their business and employee data, uncovering patterns that inform and enhance HR initiatives.

APA Credits

In order to maintain a Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) or a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) certification with the American Payroll Association (APA), now known as PayrollOrg (PAYO), HR and payroll professionals must earn a specific number of Recertification Credit Hours (RCHs), previously called APA credits.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

An applicant tracking system helps recruiters manage and streamline the recruiting and hiring process. ATSs help with recruiting by automating repetitive tasks, simplifying interview scheduling, screening candidates, and onboarding new hires.


Big Data

Big Data refers to large, complex, and rapidly growing data sets that are difficult to manage. Businesses must structure or organize this data to analyze it and extract useful, actionable insights.


Cloud Computing Technology

Cloud computing technology delivers technology solutions over the Internet, instead of storing them directly on a hard drive. Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are a common example of cloud technology, as they are hosted remotely and accessed by users via the web.


Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Belonging (DIEB)

DIEB are four important qualities that employers and HR departments must invest in to build a safe, secure, and comfortable workplace environment for every employee.


Employee experience

The employee experience encompasses all daily interactions and moments that affect an employee's physical and mental well-being.

Employee surveys

Employee surveys are tools used to measure employee attitudes and overall workforce sentiment.


Equity, a key part of DEIB, recognizes that everyone has different backgrounds and unique needs and works to give every employee an equal opportunity for success.


Global Human Resource Management

Global human resource management refers to all aspects of an organization’s HR, payroll, and talent management processes operating on a global scale.

Gartner® Magic Quadrant

The Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ report is an annual report designed to help consumers make informed decisions about human capital management (HCM) providers.


HCM Magic Quadrant

The HCM Magic Quadrant visually represents how HCM competitors are positioned relative to each other, labeling them into one of four categories: Visionaries, Niche Players, Challengers, and Leaders. There is also a version of the report aimed specifically at HCMs suites for midmarket and large enterprises.

HR Case Management

HR case management is a system for handling employee requests and questions through a ticketing workflow that routes employee inquiries to the right person, tracks ticket status, and helps resolve issues in a timely manner.

HR Document Management

HR document management is the process of filing, retaining, and destroying company records to keep employee data safe and remain compliant.

HR Recertification Credits

If you are a certified HR or payroll professional, you’ll need to earn HR recertification credits from your certification provider (APA, HRCI®, and/or SHRM) to maintain your status.

HR Robotic Process Automation

HR robotic process automation automates manual human resource processes, helping businesses save time and money and eliminate manual errors.

HR Service Delivery

HR service delivery provides services spanning the entire employee lifecycle to your workforce, including onboarding, payroll, benefits, and more.

HR Shared Services

HR shared services refer to the practice of outsourcing HR processes, reporting, and software solutions to third-party companies.

HR Software

Human resources software, also called HR software solutions, encompass all the technology that businesses use to manage their personnel. HR solutions support various functions, including recruitment, onboarding, payroll, time and attendance, talent management, performance evaluation, and employee engagement.

HR, Payroll, and Benefits

HR, payroll, and benefits refers to the combined organizational functions that manage human resources activities, employee compensation, and employee benefits programs.

HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®) Credits

Every three years after certification, HRCI® credential holders must complete qualified professional development activities to earn HRCI® credits to keep their certification status active.

Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

An HRIS manages essential HR functions, including digital employee data storage, payroll processing, benefits administration, and employee leave management.

Human Resource Management System (HRMS)

HR Management Systems, or HRMS software, offers the same core HR functionality as an HRIS, while throwing in a few extra features like performance management, professional development, recruiting, onboarding, and more.

Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) Credits

To maintain CHRP, CHRL, and/or CHRE certifications through the HRPA, HR professionals must achieve 66.7 hours of professional development activities, or HRPA credits, every three years.

Human Capital Management (HCM) Systems

Human capital management systems offer a suite of tools designed to automate manual tasks, optimize employee experiences, drive business results, and empower HR teams to make more strategic people decisions.


Onboarding Software

Onboarding software helps an employee transition from new hire to a productive employee, but collecting their personal and direct deposit information, verifying employment eligibility, collecting employee tax and withholding information, and more.


Payroll and HR Services

Payroll and HR services encompass the administration of employee compensation, benefits, and personnel-management-related tasks within an organization.

Payroll HR Software

HR and payroll software handles both payroll processing and procedures and core HR functions like talent management, benefits, and more.

People-centric Leadership

People-centric leadership favors an empathetic style of management that is compassionate, approachable, transparent, and fair.

Performance Management

Performance management is the continuous communication and feedback exchanged between a manager and their direct report to set clear performance expectations, align on priorities, and achieve goals.

Performance Management Process

The performance management process consists of three unique stages: planning and developing, evaluation, and reward. Together, this process strives to boost effective communication, improve alignment, and increase employee proficiency.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics for HR uses algorithms to produce plausible projections about the future, based on what’s happening in the present.


Recruitment Software

Recruiting software, like an applicant tracking system, simplifies and streamlines common recruiting tasks to more quickly and cost-effectively hire high-quality candidates.


Remote work allows employees to perform their roles from their own homes, rather than from a company’s office location. Managing a remote team requires clear communication, trust, effective use of collaboration tools, and a focus on results rather than activity.


SHRM Recertification Credits for HR

The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) requires HR professionals to earn 60 professional development credits, or SHRM recertification credits, every three years to renew either of their two certifications: SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP.

Strategic Human Capital Management

Strategic human capital management, or strategic HCM, aims to maximize employee potential by providing consistent, balanced, and engaging workplace experiences.

Strategic Human Resource Management

Strategic human resource management, sometimes written as strategic HR management or strategic HRM, is the process businesses use to maximize the potential of their people and support their organization’s success.

Succession Management Software

Succession management software helps organizations keep an eye on the horizon, ensuring they have the right skilled talent in place to meet future business needs.

Supplier Diversity

Supplier diversity involves integrating small business owners from diverse backgrounds into your supply chain to promote inclusivity and fostering innovation and economic growth within diverse communities.


Talent Management

Covering everything from hire to retire, talent management aims to attract, develop, and retain top talent to meet current and future business needs.

Talent Management Software

Talent management software uses features like performance reviews and career development tools to help employees reach their full potential and to give company leadership visibility into workforce performance.

Time, Labor, and Compensation Software

Time, labor, and compensation software manages employee time and attendance, schedules shifts, tracks labor spending, and helps prevent labor law violations.


Workforce Analytics

Workforce analytics is the process of analyzing workforce data to measure, understand, and improve employee performance and management.

Workforce Management Software

Businesses use workforce management software to increase overall efficiency and productivity among employees.

Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is the process of analyzing and forecasting an organization's workforce needs to ensure it has the right number of employees with the necessary skills to achieve future business goals. This involves identifying current and future staffing requirements, assessing skill gaps, and implementing strategies to build a workforce that supports the organization's success.

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