The HR Terms Glossary
Visier's HR Glossary defines HR terms, questions, and phrases commonly used in the people analytics and human resources industry.
A growing compendium of HR terms, questions, and—most importantly—their definitions.
Affinity bias is a tendency for people to favor others who share similarities with them. Such affinities could be based on shared interests, socio-economic or cultural backgrounds, values or even physical characteristics such as race or gender. Often affinity bias is an unconscious or implicit bias, meaning that the holder of the affinity bias doesn’t necessarily intend to favor those most similar to themselves, and may not even realize that they do so.
A method for managing temporary labor needs. It allows employers to hire as needed instead of having long-term commitments to permanent hires.
AI in HR is the use of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) to help with key HR activities like creating personalized learning materials, designing virtual training simulations, generating job descriptions, creating realistic virtual avatars for interviews, developing chatbots for employee assistance, and even aiding in data-driven decision-making by generating insights from large datasets.
AI hallucinations occur when a generative AI application like ChatGPT or Google Bard provides fabricated, inaccurate, or implausible information and outputs. AI hallucinations are caused when the models have learned or have been trained imperfectly. This can be caused by errors or biases in the data used to train it, or an incorrect interpretation of that data.
AI analytics is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) systems and processes to analyze and draw insights from big data. It involves the application of algorithms and machine learning models to make sense of complex data sets and to generate actionable insights, a process that has historically been manual and time-consuming.
Algorithmic fairness ensures unbiased and objective outcomes from AI systems, and that they don’t discriminate against individuals or groups based on sensitive attributes like race, gender, or age. Regular auditing, diverse input, and transparency can help identify and mitigate any biases or unfairness that may arise.
Augmented intelligence uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence to enhance decision-making. Augmented intelligence represents a number of opportunities to streamline and improve various HR processes, including talent acquisition, employee onboarding, performance management, and employee engagement.
A computational assessment of data for the purpose of understanding and communicating large amounts of information. Analytics gives context to your data to help you see where patterns or trends (for example, how many vacation days employees in sales versus customer service are taking) may exist, which can alert you to problem areas or opportunities to double down on. This enables you to make more informed and better decisions.
Annualized Resignation Rate
Annualized resignation rate is a projection of annual turnover created by taking the average resignation rate available and extrapolating. For example, if the resignation rate over the first 6 months was 20%, then the annualized resignation rate would be 40%.
Computer systems designed to mimic human intelligence. Capabilities include reasoning, learning, problem-solving, perception, speech recognition, natural language processing, knowledge representation, planning, and more.
Boomerang employees are employees who have voluntarily left an organization and then, at some future point, decide to come back to the organization.
Business outcomes are measurable results that move organizations towards their strategic objectives. Examples include sales targets, customer retention, and increased profitability.
A tariff placed on carbon intensive products and was formed after several months of negotiations between European Union (EU) Member States and the European Parliament.
Career path refers to the progression of employees’ careers. Career paths can be defined by level of responsibility, title, salary, and more. These paths may not be linear, but predictive analytics can help people leaders coach their staff with an eye to the future.
CEO Pay Ratio
This is the ratio of the CEOs compensation and the median employee pay. Pay ratios compare how much money CEOs earn compared with average workers and vary depending on industry, company size, and many other factors.
Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)
An executive that manages human resources at an organization and implements policies of change to improve HR efficiency.
Mental shortcuts used to quickly process information. They’re often subconscious and involve making quick judgments about things we see around us. For example, if one manager implements a practice that increased employee satisfaction, you might assume that implementing that practice across the organization will increase satisfaction overall.
Identifying key characteristics of a group of similar people over time. Cohorts, or groups of people with something in common, provide insight into why certain behaviors occur and allow organizations to identify potential problems before they happen.
A monetary benefit that is provided by employers to attract and retain qualified workers. Compensation can include salary, bonuses, health insurance benefits, paid time off, retirement plans, tuition reimbursement programs, and more.
The practice of comparing employee compensation against market standards to determine whether or not they are paid fairly.
Compensation planning is the process of designing, implementing, and managing an organization’s compensation program. Compensation planning includes salaries, bonuses, benefits, and other forms of rewards.
An annual EU commission requirement with a comprehensive set of standard measures that include the key areas of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG).
The datafication of HR refers to the use of analytics to help organizations understand more about their people, HR processes, and external demographics—and how all of these impact bottom-line business outcomes.
Data allows organizations and their HR and other leaders to make informed decisions about the selection, management, deployment, and support of employees. Datafication involves the use of operational data to inform business strategy and help business leaders plan for the future. From an HR perspective, the term refers to the ability to use analytics when making decisions.
A visual representation of data that communicates information about numbers, trends, patterns, often presented graphically. Commonly used to convey complex ideas quickly and clearly.
In recent years, companies—and indeed popular culture in general—have placed increasing importance on the concepts of diversity, equity and inclusion, or “DEI.” Some companies say “D&I” or “diversity and inclusion,” while others also include a “B” for “belonging” as in “DEIB.”
Companies that pursue DEI initiatives tend to recognize that there is a real and positive impact to their bottom line when they seek to create inclusive workplaces that take advantage of the widest possible range of ideas, values, insights and creativity.
The democratization of data is providing direct access to data and analytics to support workforce decisions—not just to HR staff members, but to other leaders, people managers and even employees themselves. It’s the recognition that data is power and that, placed in the right hands, it can help organizations make better, more informed, and more data-driven decisions.
Digital transformation is a term for the massive impacts that technology is having on organizations of all kinds. It suggests a strategic approach to the ways that technology will impact organizations and the recognition that decisions related to the use of technology need to be based on enterprise-wide needs, and not just the needs of individual business functions.
This shift in thinking is creating both challenges and opportunities for a wide range of business functions—including HR.
Employee attrition is the loss of employees through retirement or resignation where employers decide not to refill the position.
Employees’ level of connection and involvement with the organization. Employee engagement helps organizations achieve business goals while creating positive experiences for both managers and employees.
The application of experience design in the workplace. The goal is to intentionally create events, services, and an organizational environment that focuses on the quality of the culture within a company.
An organization’s ability to retain its employees. Companies keep an eye on retention rates to see what’s currently working and better understand what they can do to keep their talented employees.
That rate at which people in an organization leave their jobs every year. A high turnover rate may lead to a lack of talent needed for specific roles.
An employee value proposition is a statement of the benefits that employees will experience as an employee with the company.
A corporate reporting framework that allows investors and stakeholders to understand the impact a company has on employees, customers, and communities where it operates.
Ethical AI—also referred to as responsible AI or trustworthy AI—refers to the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) systems in a way that aligns with ethical principles and values like individual rights, privacy, non-discrimination, and non-manipulation.
A private body created to provide the European Commission with expertise and advice related to accounting matters, including financial reporting and sustainability reporting.
External hiring is looking outside of a company’s current employees to recruit from other sources.
Full cycle recruiting is a process whereby a single individual is responsible for overseeing the recruitment and hiring of an employee through every stage of the process. Also referred to as full life cycle recruiting this process contrasts with the process of having multiple people handling individual aspects of the recruitment process.
The “future of work” describes what the workforce of tomorrow will look like. Due to technological improvements and advancements over the past several years, the workplace and how people do their jobs has changed significantly. But the pandemic in early 2020 drove that impetus even more.
Refers to the fact that women have been limited from reaching higher levels within corporations—they can see what’s up above on the career ladder, but they can’t break through to get there. The term comes from the idea that there’s a barrier preventing them from achieving success.
A comprehensive European data protection law that provides enhanced rights for individuals to control their data.
Generative AI (GenAI) is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that is capable of creating content or information including images, text, and even music, based on prompts. It uses algorithms and deep learning models—combined with patterns and data that it has been trained on—to generate output. ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Bard are examples of generative AI applications
Ghosting, as the term is used in HR settings, refers to the sudden ending of communication between an employer and potential employee initiated by either party.
The Great Resignation refers to the massive outflow of employees that began during the pandemic and that is predicted to continue into at least the next year. It’s a term that was coined by psychologist Anthony Klotz who warns that it’s a trend that could continue for years.
Hard skills are specific and measurable abilities that an employee needs to do their job effectively. They are typically job-specific and can be easily quantified and evaluated. Some examples of hard skills include programming, data analysis, accounting, graphic design, and language proficiency.
Healthcare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) is a standardized survey developed by the Agency for Health Care Quality. Hospitals use these scores to evaluate patient satisfaction, which is tied directly to their Medicare and Medicaid payments.
At its most basic level, “headcount” in human resources parlance simply refers to the number of people employed by a company at a given time. Of course, as complex as companies’ workforce organization can be, there are many nuances and factors to consider when tallying up the actual headcount.
In reality, employees can—and should be—categorized in a number of different ways for reporting, organizational and planning purposes. A headcount, therefore, is not only about tallying the total number of employees, but also categorizing them according to a variety of characteristics.
A type of cognitive bias where people make judgments based on what seems most familiar rather than accurate information. For example, if you see that a lot of employees in a department are leaving, you might make an assumption based on the reasons you’ve seen employees leave in the past.
Human-AI or human-machine collaboration is the coming together of people and technology to create or produce things. Human-AI collaboration allows companies to use artificial intelligence to interact with employees, customers, and others. Generative AI or GenAI is quickly becoming a go-to tool for employees in a wide range of business settings and roles.
HR Business Partner (HRBP)
A role that works directly with business leaders to align the HR agenda with the objectives of designated business units. They are responsible for initiatives such as strategic workforce planning, developing training programs, managing compensation plans, and more.
HR metrics are systems or tools used to measure the performance of elements of the human resources function. Some examples of HR metrics are: revenue per employee, or turnover.
HR strategy includes all activities related to recruiting, selecting, staffing, retaining, motivating, rewarding, compensating, promoting, supervising, evaluating, disciplining, terminating, transferring, outsourcing, and other functions to support business goals.
The process of rethinking and changing HR practices within an organization.
The department responsible for providing all employees with an environment that promotes their professional development and growth. It also ensures that each individual has access to the tools necessary to be successful in his or her job role.
Hybrid work is a work model where employees work physically on-site some of the time and from another location (e.g., their homes) at other times.
Internal recruitment is turning to your existing employees as a source of talent for new or open positions.
Internal hiring is filling open positions with existing employees. Internal recruiting may be related to promotions, transfers, moving from a temporary to a permanent position or employee referrals. Instead of looking externally for talent, internal recruiting is focused on finding talent in a company’s existing workforce.
A group of members designed to deliver a comprehensive global baseline of sustainability-related disclosure standards, and is responsible for developing and approving International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
The loss of an employee due to downsizing, restructuring, mergers, acquisitions. In some cases, it could also mean losing an employee because they were fired.
Training and education and organization on new technologies, processes, policies, procedures, and more, so that individuals are better equipped to perform their jobs effectively. L&D may take place at any point during one’s career.
A merit increase is a pay raise given to an employee based on their performance. It can be determined by seniority or tenure, but it more often determined by market rates today.
The loss of staff due to factors unrelated to performance, including resignation, illness, disability, retirement, and more.
An EU regulatory requirement that requires certain companies to disclose non-financial and diversity information in their yearly management reports.
Organizational Network Analysis (ONA)
Analyzing relationships between individuals and groups inside an organization. ONA provides insights into how different departments interact with one another as well as how those interactions affect performance.
Pay transparency is the act of making the level of pay for a job open to job seekers. While some employers may choose to reveal levels of pay voluntarily, states are beginning to pass laws requiring pay transparency.
An approach to analyzing large amounts of an organization’s people data to gain actionable insights. People analytics uses statistical methods like regression modeling, clustering algorithms, and machine learning techniques to analyze big data sets.
The people cloud is a term that refers to the opportunity to combine people data (wherever it might be housed) with business data to make better people decisions. Visier’s People Cloud, for instance, brings together people data and business data so businesses can see the full picture of their organization’s health.
The People Impact Gap is a term coined by the People Intelligence Alliance that refers to the gap between workforce data and optimized decision-making. The People Impact Gap exists in most organizations because, although people data exists, businesses have not been using those insights to make better decisions.
Position management is the process that companies, usually with guidance from the HR department, use to determine which positions, and how many, need to be on board to accomplish the organization’s goals and objectives.
Psychological safety is a desired state where employees feel safe in their work environment and believe that they will not be punished or sanctioned for opening and honestly sharing their thoughts and opinions.
You may have heard the term “unicorn” to describe a company with unique and desirable attributes that cause it to stand out from other organizations. Recruiters often use a similar term to refer to job candidates who have these unique attributes: purple squirrel.A purple squirrel is a candidate who represents a perfect fit for a position. As you might imagine, purple squirrels can be hard to find.
The value a new hire adds to your organization and how they contribute to the success of the company.
A recession is a time of declining economic performance. A recession is generally related to a country’s economy and can last for several months or even years. A recession can be distinguished from a depression in that a depression refers to a more severe decline in the economy, or gross domestic product (GDP.)
Reduction in force (RIF) is when companies reduce the number of employees through layoffs, furloughs, or terminations. A reduction in force is typically a step companies take to reduce expenses specifically related to HR costs.
Provides information about what is happening within your organization.
When one decision-maker compares two situations or groups because of perceived similarities. This may lead to bad hiring or workforce decisions. For example, if you have two employees eligible for a promotion with similar experience levels, you might assume that they could both equally succeed when that isn’t necessarily true.
A judgment error where individuals assume that if something has happened frequently, it will continue happening. For example, if you see a potential candidate as shy during an interview, you may assume that they can perform well in a customer or client-facing role. This assumption could prevent you from fully recognizing their skillset.
A resignation is the set of reasons related to an exit that is initiated by the employee and where the departure is permanent, their contract term is ended, not paused.
The process of acquiring additional skills through formalized educational programs or informal self-learning activities. Reskilling often occurs after the structure of an organization shifts during layoffs or other changes in work roles.
Rightsizing is a term used to describe a business’s efforts to gradually guide an organization into the appropriate size and structure for its current and future business operations.
Originally implemented by the National Football League (NFL) and named for the late Dan Rooney, former Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman, the Rooney Rule was an effort to boost opportunities for minorities to land head coaching positions in the NFL. The rule created requirements for interviewing at least one diverse candidate for open head coaching positions.
Salary compression, also referred to as pay compression or wage compression, can occur as some employees have been in their positions for a long period of time and their wage have not kept page with the market, while newer employees being hired into the company are paid at market wage, resulting in salaries becoming compressed.
Used to identify strengths and weaknesses in specific areas of expertise. The results from this type of evaluation help determine whether training will be required before promotion or if new responsibilities should be assigned.
An area where there is not enough skilled labor available to meet current demand. A skill gap exists when there are fewer people who have certain qualifications than what is currently being demanded.
Soft skills are the personal attributes, qualities, and abilities that employees and candidates possess that help them work effectively with others. They involve aspects of emotional intelligence, communication, collaboration, adaptability, problem-solving, leadership, and interpersonal relationships.
Used to assess the width and depth of an organization. Span measures the number of direct reports for each manager. Layer measures the number of supervisory levels.
Finding and reviewing the path to future employment opportunities within an organization. This includes identifying potential openings as well as understanding the skills needed to fill those positions.
The process that companies go through to find qualified candidates for open job opportunities. This includes identifying talent pools, screening applicants based on criteria including their experience and knowledge.
Talent development is the process of identifying and nurturing employees’ skills, abilities, and knowledge to align their career advancement with the company’s strategic needs, enhance employee performance, and prepare them for future roles and higher-level responsibilities.
Talent intelligence is the process of gathering, analyzing, and using internal and external data and insights about people's skills, capabilities, and potential. It helps align talent strategies with business goals, driving tangible results for the organization that align with the overall strategic direction of the company.
Technical skills are the specific abilities and proficiencies required to perform tasks for a particular job or role. Technical skills typically involve using specialized tools, software, or equipment to accomplish specific tasks or objectives.
Turnover contagion is the tendency for employees to be influenced to look for new jobs when their coworkers announce that they are looking or have found another job.
This metric measures the amount of time required to find a qualified candidate after advertising a position.
The process of acquiring new skills and/or improving existing ones. While this can happen at any time, this is something partially needed when an organization goes through major changes or a merger.
The act of an employee leaving an organization by choice for professional or personal reasons. Usually measured using exit interviews and surveys.
Figuring out how many workers your organization needs during a given time period to support growth and ensure profitability. Involves determining the number of staff members you need for each department.
Workforce reduction occurs when an employer reduces its workforce through layoffs, attrition, retirement, resignations, transfers, promotions, demotions, terminations, and retirements.