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HR Lexicon

Explore a comprehensive list of core HR topics and terms in a convenient A-Z list, expertly curated and written by Josh Bersin Academy experts. We regularly update the HR Lexicon, so make sure to bookmark it for easy access.

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The term “accessibility” has largely been used in the context of public places and accommodations over the years, but the definition has broadened to also include the context of digital content, products, and tools. Accessibility refers to giving equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human ability, irrespective of what they seek to experience and how.

Adaptive Learning

“Adaptive learning” refers to a platform or company’s ability to deliver and recommend learning in a tailored and adjustable way. For example, as an individual completes a learning activity or takes a test, an adaptive learning system would potentially skip modules that are not needed and jump to more advanced topics, recommend remedial topics, or let an employee test out of some type of learning activity.

Affirmative Action

The term "Affirmative action" refers to policies and practices within organizations and institutions aimed at increasing opportunities for historically underrepresented groups in various areas, including education, employment, and business.

Agile HR

“Agile HR” refers to the use of agile methodology practices in the HR function. This includes managing projects in small cross-functional teams, using ideas like “sprints” and “stories” to design and prototype solutions, working directly with business users with “beta” releases and managing projects in small stages.

Agile Organization

An “agile organization” refers to a company, business unit, or function (e.g., HR) that practices the agile model for organization, work, rewards, and career. The agile model consists of the following:


Alight Solutions is a leading provider of benefits administration and cloud-based HR and financial services. It light offers a range of services to its clients, including health and wealth solutions to help employees, HR and financial solutions to transform shared service functions, and consumer experience solutions that apply technology and human insight to enhance the employee experience.

AMS Alexander Mann Solutions

Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) is a leading global provider of talent acquisition, recruitment outsourcing, technology, and management services.

Analytics (People, Predictive, Prescriptive, Descriptive)

“People analytics” refers to the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and insights about employees and the workforce overall.


An “API” (application programming interface) is a set of programming code that can enable data transmission and connectivity across different software products. API provides all the information that developers in an organization need to integrate different HR systems and applications with each other.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

“Applicant tracking systems” (APIs) are used by recruiting teams to manage the flow of job applicants, candidates, and internal employees searching for jobs. These platforms, which have been around for 20+ years, are workflow systems used to store, track, and maintain candidate profiles.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

“Artificial intelligence” is a technological tool to help solve cognitive issues and enable machines to think like humans. Essentially, when a machine can learn by itself and complete complex processes and calculations by asking the right questions, not just giving the right answers, AI is in play.


“Attrition” refers to a reduction in the employee strength of an organization. Attrition can be voluntary (when employees leave of their own accord), or involuntary (when employees leave due to job redundancies, layoffs, or retirement).

Augmented Reality

“Augmented reality” (AR) combines a real-world setting with digital content and information. AR overlays the existing physical environment with computer-generated visual, auditory, or other sensory information.


Base Pay

“Base pay” is the initial salary paid to an employee for a given job. It excludes several other components of the total potential compensation an employee might receive, such as,bonuses, benefits, insurance, commissions, dividends, or stock options.

Bell Curve

A “bell curve,” as the name suggests, is a bell-shaped graph often used to depict the distribution of performance ratings of employees. The bell curve represents what statisticians call a "normal distribution."


Employee “benefits” refer to the incentives and perks employees receive as part of their employment contract, over and above their basic salary. Benefits offerings are an important factor in attracting and retaining talent, giving organizations with generous benefits packages such as Google and Facebook at a competitive edge over others.


Beqom is a cloud-based compensation management solution that enables businesses to manage pay, bonuses, and other forms of compensation in a fair, transparent, and efficient manner. It helps companies attract and retain talent by aligning compensation strategies with business objectives.


“Bias” refers to an innate tendency to give preferential treatment to some people over others, consciously or unconsciously, as a result past experiences and perceptions. Every management and HR decision has the potential to suffer from bias.

Big Data

“Big data” refers to massive and ever-increasing datasets generated rapidly from diverse sources of information. This data is generated through a wide array of apps and tools that employees use in every organization, through search engines and ecommerce activity, gadgets and technology use, and every interaction that an individual has on the world wide web.

Blended Learning

“Blended learning” refers to the mix between online learning (which can be self-study, live, or cohort-based) and face-to-face learning in a classroom. Today, most high-fidelity programs use online learning as a prerequisite, then provide face-to-face experiences, and then followed by self-study, reflection, and ongoing resources.

Blended Workforce

A “blended workforce” typically means that an organization has employees who are full time (salaried or hourly), part time, contract, and gig. The idea of “blend” implies that the company has advanced management and HR practices to deal with scheduling, work management, pay, leadership, and training across these different workforce segments. Nearly every company today has a “blended workforce.”

Blue-Collar Workforce

“Blue collar” refers to workers who are not “white collar,” implying that they do not work in an office. Traditionally this means manufacturing workers, drivers, logistics workers, laborers, construction workers and retail workers.


"Brownout" is a state of disengagement at work where employees experience boredom, a lack of motivation, or exhaustion. Brownout may be caused by factors such as too much job stress, a lack of meaningful work, few opportunities for growth and development, or an unhealthy company culture. It may be more subtle than burnout but is often longer-lasting and can negatively impact productivity, mental health, culture, and retention.


“Burnout” refers to a prolonged state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Burnout has a detrimental impact on performance, productivity, health, and wellbeing of individuals.

Business Model Design

A “business model” is a company’s core strategy to create value and to turn a profit. Business models can include direct sales, franchise, advertising, partnership, or brick-and-mortar.

Business Resilience

“Business resilience” is the ability of an organization to quickly adapt to disruptions while maintaining continuous business operations and safeguarding people, assets, and overall brand equity.



We define “capabilities” as the business-oriented competencies that group skills into meaningful terms that are well recognized as criteria for success in a job or role. A sales capability may be “lead generation,” which may require many granular skills (CRM systems, email composition, customer segmentation).

Capability Academy

A Capability Academy, also known as a Corporate University or a Learning Academy, is an educational organization within a corporation that provides learning and development programs to improve and enhance the skills of its employees. These academies focus on building and strengthening the capabilities that are critical to the company's strategy and competitive advantage.

Career Ladder

A “career ladder” is a traditional career model where individuals grow “up the ladder” over time. In most hierarchical job families this may start for example, as “assistant engineer,” then move to  “junior engineer,” “engineer,” “senior engineer,” and then “consulting engineer.”

Career Management

“Career management” is the broad discipline of helping people advance their careers, creating career models, and teaching/coaching people how to advance in their career. Today most careers are no longer linear, so people can find new careers that leverage their skills other than going up the “career ladder.”

Career Mobility

“Career mobility” refers to employee movement within the course of their professional life. This can take many forms: finding an entirely new job or moving between roles within the same organization.

Career pathways

A “career pathway” is a series of career steps, designed through skills adjacencies, that show an individual how to move to a more valued, in-demand career. This is one of the most important new initiatives in HR, and skills and job data now make this possible.

Centralized Organizational Model

A “centralized organizational model” is a way of governing most decisions from the center of the company (e.g., headquarters, corporate groups, etc.). This means decisions are usually made from the top of the hierarchy.

Change Management

“Change management” refers to the cumulative practices and processes that organizations adopt to help individuals and teams adapt new procedures, policies, technologies, and more, and respond to change overall. Traditional change management approaches were built around a notion of managing change in a linear process, as a “sibling” to project management.


"ChatGPT" is an advanced AI chatbot developed by OpenAI, based on the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) model. It's capable of understanding and generating human-like text, making it useful for a wide range of applications, including customer service, content creation, and educational support.


“Coaching” refers to a development-focused relationship with a trained professional coach who helps the coachee accomplish short-term defined goals. Coaches help an individual find their own solutions rather than offering them advice or opinions.

Collaborative Learning

‘Collaborative learning” refers to peer-driven learning. It leans on the notion that learning and knowledge retention is higher when learners study together, interact with each other, ask questions about the content, and apply it in day-to-day work.


Compa-ratio is a measurement of pay that compares an employee’s salary to the median compensation for similar positions within a company or a target job category. Values are expressed as a percentage. So if an individual's compa-ratio is 100%, they are at the median.

Competency Modeling

“Competency modelling” is a process to establish a competency model—groups of operational, technical, and leadership skills and capabilities into competencies. While competency modelling can be applied to any skills and capabilities, they are usually developed for leadership competencies.

Content Intelligence

“Content intelligence” refers to the use of AI and algorithms to analyze the subject matter of learning content, to assess quality, relevance, and alignment with a company’s critical skills and capabilities as well as philosophy and approach in those areas.

Content Management System

“Learning content management system” (LCMS) is a software category that was created in 2002 to solve the problem of unmanageably huge amounts of digital learning content in every organization, big or small. An LCMS is a content management, development, and delivery system, whereas an LMS is a learning administration and reporting system.

Contingent Worker

“Contingent workers” are workers who are hired by a company for short-term engagements. These employees work in a nonpermanent temporary capacity and are not contractually bound for long-term employment with the company.

Contract Worker or Contractor

“Contract workers” are a subset of the contingent workforce. A contractor is an independent worker who is hired for a short-term temporary engagement.

Copilot (AI)

An AI "copilot" is an artificial intelligence system designed to assist and augment human capabilities in various tasks and processes.

Cornerstone (on Demand)

Cornerstone is one of the largest providers of LMS and integrated talent management platforms in the market. The company was founded in 1999 as CyberU and has grown steadily, acquiring its competitors Saba, SumTotal, Lumesse, Halogen, EdCast, and others.

Cost of Living

The "cost of living" in the context of compensation and benefits refers to the amount of money required to cover basic expenses like housing, food, taxes, and healthcare in a specific location and time period. It is a crucial factor in determining fair employee compensation, especially in dynamic environments where living expenses can fluctuate due to inflation.

Cost of Living Allowance

"Cost of Living Adjustment" or "Cost of Living Allowance" (COLA) is a systematic adjustment or allowance made to an employee's salary or compensation to counteract changes in the cost of living, ensuring that employees can maintain their purchasing power despite rising prices for goods and services.

Cost of Living Index

The "Cost of Living Index" (COLI) is a statistical tool used to compare the relative cost of living in different regions, countries, or geographic locations.

Creator Platform

“Creator platforms” are a new category of learning solutions that allow anyone in an organization to create and share content with ease and efficiency, without instructional design experience. These platforms are designed specifically for end-users, not instructional designers, and offer an integrated learning experience.


“Culture” is “what people do when nobody is looking.” The topic of culture is a CEO-level topic, and it represents all the values, behaviors, artifacts, implicit reward systems, and embedded practices that make a company work.


Data Privacy

“Data privacy” (also known as “information privacy” or “data protection”) is the branch of data security that deals with the ways personal and work data are captured, stored, accessed, and shared. To ensuring data privacy, organizations need to comply with all existing data protection laws, regulations, and directives.

Data Security

“Data security” is a series of processes put in place to make sure that any digital information managed within an organization is safeguarded from unauthorized access, corruption, or theft. Data privacy is a subset of data security.


DEEL is a global EOR (employer of record) platform designed to help companies hire, pay, manage, and administer global employees and contractors. The company was founded in 2018 by Alex Bouaziz and Shuo Wang.

Design Thinking

The concept of “design thinking” emerged around the 1960s as an approach to creatively solving problems. In the 1980s, the concept gained momentum in the context of business management and human-centered design as an approach to building programs and processes that are compelling, enjoyable, simple, and conducive to creating productive and meaningful experiences.

Deskless Worker/Workforce

“Deskless workers” are workers who need to do their work at a specific workplace, not from anywhere. Industries such as healthcare, hospitality, retail, manufacturing, transportation, energy & resources, and distribution have mostly deskless employees.

Digital Credentialling

“Digital credentials” refer to verifiable credentials such as badges and certificates representing an individual’s professional skills and competencies. Digital credentials validate the skills an individual has by providing context around when and where their skills were acquired.

Digital Transformation

“Digital transformation” refers to the organizational transformation of business models, operating models, and technologies to provide services to customers in digital format. For example, retailers transformed their offering to not only sell in brick-and-mortar stores but also online.


“Diversity” or workforce diversity is the collection of different demographics in a group or team (e.g., gender, race, ethnicity, background, education, language, age, religion, belief systems, political orientation, neurodiversity etc.).


Docebo is a cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) renowned for its user-friendly interface, versatile features, and scalability. Since its inception, Docebo has focused on catering to various learning and development needs within the corporate environment, and the platform's flexibility helps it meet the challenges of different sectors and organizational sizes.


Draup is an enterprise decision-making platform that combines data analytics and machine learning to provide insights into talent management and skills development. It helps organizations map skill supply with demand, identify skill gaps, and develop targeted talent acquisition and development strategies.

Dynamic Organization

A "dynamic organization" is defined as one that proactively anticipates changes in the business environment and continuously transforms at speed and scale to drive exponential business, people, and innovation outcomes. These organizations strategically align people and skills to the most important opportunities, improving productivity and competitiveness in tandem.


Earned-wage access (On-Demand Pay or Real-Time Pay)

“Earned-wage access,” also referred to as “on-demand pay” or “real-time pay,” refers to the ability of a worker to access the money they already earned earlier as soon as they earned it, rather than only at company-defined payday intervals. The average American worker has savings of less than $500, 78% of them live paycheck to paycheck with little to no savings, and one in three workers runs out of money before payday.

Eightfold is a talent intelligence platform company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help organizations manage their talent and make better hiring and internal mobility decisions.


“eLearning” refers to online asynchronous learning. eLearning is the earliest form of digital learning that emerged in the early 2000s with a focus on moving training programs and materials away from “instructor-led” to “online.”

Employee Activation

"Employee activation" is a system for employee listening and action-taking that empowers employees to drive change and innovation.

Employee Activism/Unionism

"Employee activism" is when employees speak up or take action in response to their company's policies or position on key societal issues. "Employee unionism" is when workers come together to represent the interests of workers at the organization and negotiate change to key workplace issues and policies.

Employee Engagement

“Employee engagement” refers to employees who are committed to the company and actively contribute their best work to the success of the business. When employees are engaged, they perform better, are more positive, serve customers better, and collaborate more effectively.

Employee Experience

“Employee experience” is the sum of all interactions the employees have with the company, their colleagues, manager, leaders, and customers. The outcome of a great employee experience is to help every employee do their best and be their best.

Employee Listening

"Employee listening" is the practice of capturing employee sentiment, feedback, and ideas to identify and solve business problems. Often a primary goal of employee listening is focused on improving the employee experience, but it can also be used to address other business challenges, foster innovation, improve the customer experience, and empower employees to have a voice in key business decisions.

Employee Value Proposition

The “employee value proposition” (also sometimes referred to as “the deal”) is the totality of experiences a company offers to employees, including compensation, benefits, learning and growth, work/life integration, teams, management, and the work itself. Our Employee Experience Framework defines all the different elements that come together to create an irresistible experience for workers.

Employer Brand

The “employer brand” is the perception of a company in the eyes of candidates or employees. A positive employer brand can lead to higher employee attraction and retention.

EOR - Employer Of Record

An employer of record (EOR) is an entity that legally employs workers on behalf of another business. An EOR takes full responsibility for all aspects of employment including compliance, payroll, taxes, and benefits. 

Employers of record can be located within the same country as the business it employs workers for or in another country with different employment laws.


“Equity” refers to practices that provide not just equality (everybody gets the same treatment) but preferential support for those people or groups who had less opportunities because of their background or other factors.


“ERGs” (employee resources groups), sometimes also known as “BRGs” (business resource groups) are groups of people with shared interests that work on social, political, or organizational topics.


“ESG” stands for environmental, societal, and governance. It is a framework designed to be integrated into an organization's strategy to create enterprise value by expanding the organizational objectives to include the identification, assessment, and management of sustainability-related risks and opportunities in respect to all organizational stakeholders (including but not limited to customers, suppliers, and employees) and the environment.

Exempt Employee

An “exempt employee” is an employee who receives a salary for their work, but no overtime pay. Nonexempt employees earn hourly wages and are eligible for overtime pay. Therefore, nonexempt employees usually need to “clock time” more strictly than exempt employees.


An "expatriate" is an employee who is temporarily assigned to work in a country other than their country of origin.



G-P (Globalization-Partners) helps growing companies unlock their full potential by rapidly enabling them to build highly skilled global teams. Their SaaS-based Global Growth Platform™ and products helps companies find, hire, and manage talent anywhere in the world and ensure global compliance as they expand to new markets.


Galileo is the world's first AI-powered expert assistant for HR. It is an enterprise grade, secure platform that isolates your data from others, pre-trained by The Josh Bersin Company research.


“GDPR” refers to the EU General Data Protection Regulation that took effect in May 2018. The regulation outlines the guidelines for how personal data may be collected and processed for residents of the EU.

Generative AI

"Generative AI" refers to artificial intelligence algorithms that can generate new content, ideas, or data patterns based on training from existing data.

Geographic Pay Differential

“Geographic pay differential” refers to the practice of adjusting employee salary based on location. For organizations that employ workers in more than one location, this practice is widely used to account for variations in labor rates and to support employees’ cost of living.

Gig Workers

“Gig workers” are workers who work on what is colloquially referred to as gigs, that is, short-term engagements, tasks, projects, or jobs. Gig workers work in a nonpermanent temporary capacity and are not contractually bound for long-term employment with the company.


Gloat, an AI-powered talent marketplace platform, uses machine learning to match employees with opportunities like projects, mentorships, and full-time roles based on interests, skills, and career ambitions.

Global Workforce Intelligence Project (GWI)

The "Global Workforce Intelligence" (GWI) Project is a research initiative by The Josh Bersin Company that uses the world's largest "real workforce" database of workforce job role, skills, career pathways, and HR program maturity in the world to understand jobs, roles, skills, career pathways, and organizational solutions.

Globalization Partners G-P

Globalization Partners is a Global Employer of Record (EOR) platform and services company. They help companies quickly and easily hire talented individuals anywhere in the world without the need to set up complex legal entities in each country. Globalization Partners handles all the complexities of international HR including payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance, allowing businesses to focus on growth and building their global teams.


“Governance” broadly refers to the mechanisms, structures, and processes through which an organization controls and directs itself. HR governance can be defined as the oversight and leadership of strategy, policy, and programs and is often considered a core part of the overall corporate governance of an enterprise.

Growth in the Flow of Work

"Growth in the flow of work" is a corporate strategy aimed at illuminating clear connections between learning and career growth. The concept embodies practices, tools, and systems that facilitate individual growth in tandem with the development of critical business skills.


Growthspace is a unique mastery platform that leverages 2,000 unique experts to develop skills-based learning and growth to corporate teams. It offers a skills mastery platform designed to launch, manage, and measure various employee development initiatives such as coaching, mentoring, workshops, and training programs.



Guild is a career opportunity platform on a mission to unlock opportunity for America's workforce. It was founded in 2015 with one simple belief: when opportunity is as evenly distributed as talent, everyone benefits. Individuals rise, companies grow, and the economy thrives.


Gympass is a holistic wellbeing solution that gives employees access to gyms, studios, training, and digital apps to improve health and wellbeing. The platform aims to help companies reduce healthcare costs, improve employee wellbeing, and attract and retain talent.


Hallucinations (AI)

In AI, "hallucinations" refer to instances where a generative AI system produces false or misleading information that is not supported by its training data.


"Harver" is a pre-employment assessment platform that automates the candidate selection process using AI-driven data analytics. It helps companies improve their recruitment process by matching candidates' skills and personality traits with job requirements, thereby enhancing hiring efficiency and effectiveness.

Healthy Organization

“Healthy organizations” are companies with a vision that exceeds the notion of simply “delivering” wellbeing offerings. Instead, they have a global view of health and continually seek to improve work, workers, and the organization.

Heidrick & Struggles

Heidrick & Struggles is a leading global executive search and leadership advisory firm that offers a comprehensive suite of services to help organizations identify, assess, and develop top talent. At the core of the firm's offerings is its executive search practice, which leverages a highly analytical and data-driven approach to uncover candidates with the unique blend of skills required for senior-level and C-suite roles across various industries.


HiBob is a leading HR platform that provides a comprehensive suite of services to help organizations streamline their HR operations and enhance the employee experience.

HR Business Partner (HRPB)

“HR business partners” (HRBPs) are people professionals. They work closely with the business areas of an organization to continuously empower its people capabilities.

HR Generalist

“HR generalists” are HR professionals who manage a broad range of responsibilities within an organization’s HR function rather than focus on one area of an HR domain (as L&D or talent acquisition professionals do).

HR Service Delivery

“HR service delivery” refers to how the HR team interacts with an organization's employees and leaders while delivering services and tools. Historically, HR service delivery was highly transactional—employees or managers would submit a request, typically for administrative tasks (like updating information or hiring a new employee), and HR would complete the task.

HR Transformation

HR Transformation refers to the evolution of the human resources function in an organization. HR has evolved many times over the decades.

Human Capital Disclosures

“Human capital disclosures” are the people-related disclosures public companies report on public-results filing.

Human Capital Management (HCM)

“Human capital management” (HCM) systems are enterprise resource planning systems designed to administer employee transactions (e.g., payroll, employee data maintenance, benefits plans, manager changes/transfers, etc.). These systems have expanded from databases that store pertinent data to comprehensive cloud-based systems including all talent processes (e.g., recruitment, learning, performance management, leadership development, talent reviews, succession planning, etc.).

Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS)

“HRIS” is a dated term that describes the traditional payroll and employee record-keeping systems used in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. In the last decade these backend systems have been replaced by cloud-based HCM platforms.

Human Resource Management System (HRMS)

The “HRMS” is the core HR system of record embedded within the HCM platform. It stores employee records, job titles and the company architecture, and typically has a feature called “position management” that lets the company define “positions” separate from “people.”

Human-Centered Leadership

“Human-centered leadership” is a model of leadership that considers people first and business second. Human-centered leaders prioritize the needs of employees over the needs of the business and, guided by that philosophy, lead the way to more sustainable business success.

Hybrid Work

The term “hybrid work” came to be during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were sent home to work for safety reasons. It now refers to a strategy which includes a combination of local in-office and remote work, on-site work, or work done any place where workers have digital access.


iLearningEngines (iLE)

iLearningEngines (iLE) is a learning automation and intelligence solutions provider. Its AI-powered platform helps organizations deliver personalized training in the flow of work.

Incentive Pay

“Incentive pay” is a financial reward provided to employees or leaders above and beyond their base salaries. Companies often award incentive pay to high-performing employees as part of the overall employee value proposition (EVP) or retention strategy.


“Inclusion” refers to a company’s ability to create a fair, equitable, and inclusive experience. Diversity, by nature, does not create inclusion but rather creates exclusion (as it is the combination of various demographics including gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, language, socio-economic background, etc.).


The term “intersectionality” was originally coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a lawyer and educator who studied and litigated important cases regarding the discrimination of black women. The term refers to the intersection between various demographic and social categorizations as they apply to a given individual or group, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Interview Intelligence

Interview intelligence is a platform solution for hiring process that combines human intuition with AI to create a more efficient, fair, and data-driven interview experience. The key aspects of interview intelligence include:

  1. Recording and transcribing interviews to capture both verbal and non-verbal cues. This creates a detailed record that can be reviewed, shared, and analyzed.

  2. Using AI-powered features to provide real-time guidance to interviewers, generate highlight reels, and offer insights that may have been missed.

  3. Enabling collaborative feedback and decision-making by allowing hiring teams to easily access and review interview recordings and transcripts.

  4. Reducing unconscious bias and promoting diversity by ensuring a structured, consistent, and evidence-based interview process.

  5. Identifying questions, interviewers, and interview flows that work best for certain job roles.

  6. Improving the candidate experience by making the process more transparent, efficient, and focused on the candidate's responses rather than note-taking.

  7. Making it much easier for hiring managers to interview people, collaborate during the process, and save time.

The goal of interview intelligence is to transform hiring from a subjective process based on intuition to a more objective, data-driven approach that leads to higher quality hires.

Irresistible Organization

Creating an “irresistible organization” is a broad, strategic undertaking and needs to be a cross-functional strategy, not a project owned by one team.


Job Analysis

“Job analysis” is a process by which companies examine a specific job role looking for three defining factors: that it clearly describes its responsibilities and activities, that it understands its relationship to other jobs in the organization, and that it defines the requirements necessary—knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)—for a candidate to be successful.

Job Architecture

“Job architecture” is a framework for organizing and understanding the job roles within a company. Based on the work done in job analysis, a well-designed job architecture can support succession planning, inform compensation strategies, and enable the development of meaningful career pathways and learning programs.

Job Crafting

Job crafting is a process that allows employees to customize their jobs to better align with their skills, values, and goals. Job crafters take ownership of their roles and responsibilities, and make changes to their job without needing managerial input or permission. Job crafting can help employees grow professionally and personally, and may lead to increased motivation, job satisfaction, and productivity

Job Description

“Job descriptions” are narrative assets that are created to describe the tasks, activities, duties, and relationships of a particular job. Usually an output of job analysis, job descriptions have traditionally been the primary source of information for recruiters and managers seeking to hire new employees.

Job Design

Job design falls under the broad umbrella of Organization Design. The term refers to the granular work of detailing the specific activities, tasks and skills associated with a particular job in a company.

Job Evaluation

"Job evaluation" is a systematic process of determining the relative value or worth of different jobs within an organization. The goal of job evaluation is to create a fair and equitable pay structure by comparing the requirements, responsibilities, and complexities of various jobs.

Job Rotation

“Job rotation” is the practice of systematically moving employees through different jobs. Assignments are typically temporary in nature and serve to provide employees with a wide range of exposure to an organization, team, or department.

Job Specification

A "job specification" or job description is a detailed document that outlines the qualifications, skills, experience, and personal characteristics required for a particular job or role within an organization.


Large Language Model

A "large language model" (LLM) is an AI system trained on vast amounts of text data to understand and generate human-like text.

Lattice (software company)

Lattice is a cloud-based HR software platform for performance management, learning, career management, compensation and HRMS, focused on mid-sized companies.

Layers or Delayering

Layers refers to the total number of "job levels" in an organization (ie. junior, senior, manager, senior manager, VP, SVP, etc.). Layers are created to justify pay increases and often describe "span of control" and level of authority.

Historically job levels or layers were created to separate "workers" from "management." Today, as more and more employees are value-creators, these levels have less value, other than to signal a title. If someone wants a "manager" title, the company often wants them to operate at a higher level.

Delayering is where companies reduce layers, essentially trying to remove middle management and increase productivity. In the Bersin research we advise not to tie compensation to level strictly: this creates a situation where every employee always asks for a promotion to make more money.


“Leadership” is the cumulative practices and behaviors that enable an individual to lead a group or team toward the realization of shared goals. We endorse human-centered leadership as the kind that inspires excellence and helps leaders lead in a way that people willingly follow.

Leadership Development

“Leadership development” covers the programs, tools, and investments that develop first- and second-line managers, supervisors, leaders, and executives. Practitioners in this area study leadership competency models, succession planning models, and many aspects of executive development, coaching, and training.

Learning Culture

“Learning culture” refers to an organization’s ability and willingness to embrace individual and organizational learning as a strategic part of its business strategy. In other words, does your organization focus primarily on “results” or does it also embrace the strategy that the organization itself is an organism of people who must continuously develop, grow, and adapt to meet changing market conditions?

Learning Experience Platform (LXP)

“Learning experience platforms” (LXPs) are content delivery systems that make modern content easy to find and consume. They are user-centric platforms that serve as an interface for learners to discover content housed on the LMS.

Learning in the Flow of Work

“Learning in the flow of work” recognizes that in order for learning to happen, it must fit around and align itself to how work happens. The concept embodies practices and tools that allow learners to extract information they need when they need it without having to interrupt their work processes.

Learning Management Systems (LMS)

“Learning management systems” (LMSs) are the core administrative platforms to manage, track, schedule, and administer all forms of training. They typically include:

Learning Program Platforms (LPP)

“Learning program platforms” (LPPs) are mostly integrated learning systems that were built by content companies to support their clients. In many cases they were spun out as separate platforms as customers asked for more features and customization.

Learning Record Store (LRS)

“Learning record stores” (LRSs) are a new breed of data management platform that help organizations solve the problem of finding, collecting, and analyzing data related to the consumption of all the content that results from the millions of dollars they invest in digital content for trainings. These trainings cover onboarding, technical and professional topics, compliance, leadership, and virtually every new company initiative...


Lightcast is one of the largest provider of jobs, skills, and job market data in the world, helping recruiters, planners, and talent intelligence teams.


LinkedIn is a prominent professional networking platform catering to individuals and businesses worldwide. With over 700 million members, LinkedIn provides a robust ecosystem for career development, networking, and talent acquisition.

Lockstep Careers

“Lockstep careers” refers to the traditional, linear progression upward through the ranks of an organization and was widely favored for much of the twentieth century. In this model, employees and their managers created plans for advancement inside a job or function and then pursued those steps successfully or unsuccessfully based on employee performance and business needs.



MasterClass is a premier online education platform renowned for offering unparalleled access to the wisdom and expertise of world-renowned instructors–democratizing knowledge and inspiring lifelong learning. These instructors represent the pinnacle of achievement in their respective fields. From Oscar-winning filmmakers to Michelin-starred chefs, MasterClass brings together a diverse array of luminaries to share their insights, techniques, and philosophies with a global audience.

Matrix Organization

“Matrix organizations” are defined as organizational structures where individuals and teams report to multiple leaders. While the functional leaders may remain consistent, project leaders frequently change.


Medallia is an experience management software company that helps deliver better customer, digital, and employee experiences. In the employee experience space, Medallia is known for its powerful employee listening and activation capabilities that empower employees to share and implement solutions to drive business change.


“Mentoring” refers to providing experience-based learnings and unique perspectives to help people navigate long-term career aspirations. Mentors are experienced and tenured business professionals typically a couple of levels above a mentee and may be internal or from outside the organization.


“Metaverses” are “digital worlds” where real people, places, and things are represented by digital objects and where consumers are able to hop between different digital experiences.


“Microlearning” refers to bite-sized learning that allows learners to find and apply the learning instantly and in the flow of work. Microlearning content is typically offered in videos, audio, tools, or text that is presented in two minutes or less.


The term “millennials,” or “generation Y,” refers to the cohort of workers born between 1982 and 1997. Millennials comprise the largest part of today's workforce and will constitute 75% of the workforce by 2025.


“Mission” is the collective goal of a business. Stating the mission helps explain to customers, business collaborators, and employees the reason behind the existence of a given organization (its “why”).


OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is a goal-setting framework that helps organizations implement strategy.

Operating Model Design

“Operating model design” refers to the process of examining and recalibrating the structures of an organization, team, or function. It includes determining who your customers are, what success looks like, and how to operate for optimal customer outcomes, as well as defining high-level roles for the operating model.

Organization Design

“Organization design” is a discipline to design an organization’s business model, operating model, work models, job architecture, and organizational structure.

Organizational Development

“Organizational development” includes all disciplines designed to help develop companies and make them and their teams successful. It includes organization and work design, change management, culture management, team support, and other organizationally oriented disciplines.

Organizational Ingenuity

"Organizational ingenuity" refers to an organization's ability to innovatively navigate modern business challenges through creative organizational design and strategic technology use, particularly AI. It emphasizes transforming traditional hierarchical structures to empower a "super-powered" workforce, capable of accessing and processing information rapidly and efficiently.

Organizational Structure (Centralized, Federated, Decentralized)

“Organizational” structure refers to a way of governing how decisions are made.



Paradox is a pioneering AI company that developed Olivia, a highly tuned conversational AI system for recruiting.

Pay Equity

“Pay equity” is a complex, multifaceted discipline aimed to create equal pay for equal work. What this means is that companies need to define what equal work is (including job roles, levels, experience, skills, qualifications, location, etc.) and what groups to compare against in order to determine material differences in pay.

Pay for Performance

“Pay for performance” (or performance-based pay) is a compensation and rewards approach companies use to pay employees based on how well they perform, individually and/or as a team. The performance process must reflect itself in pay, and while the pay discussion should not occur at the same time as the performance discussion (as it leads people to focus a lot on pay and not enough on development), the two processes should be interlinked.

Pay Grade

A "pay grade" is an organized compensation system that establishes a range of salary or wage levels for different job roles within an organization.

Pay Range

A "pay range", also known as a salary range or compensation range, is a predefined spectrum of salary levels set by an organization for a specific job position. It includes the minimum, maximum, and midpoint salaries that can be offered to an individual in that role.


“Payroll” is a company’s full and comprehensive list of employees that are entitled to receive regular payment and/or benefits. It typically includes amounts paid to each employee, historical payments made, and withheld taxes. The term “payroll” may also broadly refer to the HR department that handles compensation for workers.

Performance Consulting

“Performance consulting” is a specialized area of consulting related to business optimization. Performance consultants aim to efficiently and effectively uncover gaps that negatively impact an organization’s performance.

Performance Management

“Performance management” is the methodical organization of processes aimed at improving performance within an organization. It consists of a variety of practices around the continuous monitoring as well as subsequent actions taken to align organizational activities to desired business outcomes.

Position Management

Position Management is a "feature" often discussed in HRMS systems that lets a company design jobs, roles, and a hierarchy and then "move people into and out of positions" - enabling the HR department to model and design an organization independently of the people in the jobs. It's a fairly common feature in HRMS systems now, but is often left out of most payroll-only platforms.

Post-Industrial Era

The "Post-Industrial Era" marks a significant shift in the economic landscape, characterized by the convergence of industries, the scarcity of talent, and the transformative impact of AI on business models and workforce dynamics. This era is defined by continuous worker shortages, a highly flexible, hybrid, and gig-oriented workforce, and the prioritization of skills over traditional credentials.

Power Skills

“Power skills,” sometimes called “soft skills” or “behavioral skills,” are the people and managerial skills required to do work. These may include less technical skills such as communication or collaboration, but also include behaviors impacting the way work is done, such as agility or resilience.

Professional Employer Org (PEO)

“Professional employer organization” (PEO) providers handle the administrative part of HR transactions to provide a company’s employees with the benefits they are looking for. They also support HR and field employment questions and do reporting, and provide employees with HR technology.


“Purpose” is the shared experience (the feeling) perceived by people within an organization when they collectively accomplish what they set out to do. Our business resilience study, which explored pandemic-related responses of approximately 1,400 companies, identified that a clear, shared mission and purpose is one of the ten practices that have the most impact on business and people outcomes.



Randstad is a leading global HR services provider that connects talented individuals with rewarding career opportunities and offers a comprehensive range of workforce solutions, including temporary staffing, permanent placement, recruitment, talent management, and HR consulting.


Recruiting refers to the end-to-end process of sourcing (looking for candidates), screening, assessing, offering, and hiring.

Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

In a tight labor market, where hiring practices have matured considerably with the advent of AI, automation, and mobile-first approaches, many companies tap into external partners to bolster their talent acquisition efforts. A “Recruitment process outsourcing” (RPO) partner is an organization that supports the hiring of employees for a company.

Remote Work/Workforce

“Remote” work is an employment arrangement that refers to work completed by an employee outside of the organization’s place of business. Remote work had been on a steady incline since the 1980s, though the concept was met with varying levels of interest by employers.


A "repatriate" is an employee who returns to their country of origin after completing an international assignment.


“Representation” is often linked to diversity. Representation in a group or team means different demographic groups—gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, language, etc.—are represented on a team.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A “Request for proposal” (RFP) is a business document that defines a project to be undertaken by an organization or agency and solicits bids from qualified, third-party contractors for its completion. RFPs are typically created in the early stages of the procurement process and outline the business and technical requirements of the desired solution.

Return on Investment (ROI)

“Return on investment” (ROI) evaluates the efficiency and cost/benefit of a decision or investment. It is oftentimes calculated as a ratio between income generated out of a given investment and the amount of that investment.


Rippling is a workforce management system that combines HR, IT, and Finance functionality into a single platform. Its HR cloud serves as an HRIS and single source of truth for all employee data; it includes payroll, benefits, PEO, talent acquisition, and employee pulse.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

“Robotic process automation” (RPA) is a technology solution embedded in workflow and productivity tools that records and then automates specific tasks based on a user’s inputs. In HR, RPA is used widely in a number of use cases.



“Saas” (software as a service) is a cloud-based approach to software licensing and delivery. In HR, most platforms and solutions are delivered via the cloud, and companies access solutions using a “thin client;” for example, a web browser or mobile device.


Sana Labs is a Stockholm-based company at the forefront of reimagining corporate learning and development (L&D). Its cloud-based learning platform, Sana LMS, stands out in the market by employing advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to personalize learning experiences, analyze training data, and provide insights to transform organizational knowledge transfer.


SAP is a leading global enterprise software company that provides a comprehensive suite of business applications and services, including enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), customer relationship management (CRM), and supply chain management. With a presence in over 180 countries, SAP serves thousands of customers worldwide, from small and medium-sized businesses to large enterprises.


Section is an online business education provider that specializes in immediate-impact course experiences. Section has served over 35,000 learners from more than 200 organizations, including 70% of Fortune 500 companies. Courses are designed in short, intensive formats that are built for the workday. By eliminating barriers to traditional education and offering a backstage pass to the strategies that are working right now, Section is able to make business education not just about what you learn, but about what you do with it.


ServiceNow is a cloud-based software company with a comprehensive platform for managing digital workflows and automating enterprise operations. The platform offers a suite of IT service management and business process automation tools to help organizations streamline processes across HR, IT, customer service, and more.

Shadow Ratings

“Shadow ratings” are sometimes used by organizations in their performance management process. Shadow ratings are performance ratings assigned by managers which are not communicated to the employees but are used to calculate rewards and compensation changes.

Shared Services

“Shared services” is a model frequently used by companies for “back-office” functions such as IT, HR, and finance. In any of these cases, the model works through the implementation of a centralized and consolidated set of services that are accessed by many parts of the organization.


SHL offers advanced talent assessment tools and analytics to help organizations evaluate and develop their workforce. Its solutions cover areas such as cognitive ability, personality, behavior, skills testing, and leadership development, aiming to improve hiring decisions and employee performance.

Situational Leadership

“Situational leadership” is a leadership style in which a leader adapts their management style to each unique situation or task to meet the needs of the team or team members. This leadership style, also known as the "Situational leadership theory" was developed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey in 1969.

Six Sigma

“Six Sigma” is a set of tools and techniques used for process improvement. Efficiency in the context of Six Sigma is achieved by a measurable reduction of errors, defects, and waste found within a company’s business process.


“Skills” are technical, functional, or soft domains of expertise and ability that people own. They refer to specific abilities that people have and can demonstrate while performing their professional duties.

Skills Ontology

A “Skills ontology” identifies and distinguishes relationships within the skills found in an organization. Oftentimes found hand in hand with a skills taxonomy, a skills ontology focuses on specifying skill relationships rather than naming and grouping them.

Skills Taxonomy

A “Skills taxonomy” is a structured approach to organizing and naming all the different skills needed by an organization, and it helps create a system for monitoring how these skills evolve over time. Most skills taxonomies come in the form of inventories where skills are identified, categorized, grouped, and clustered.

Skills-Based Organization

A "skills-based organization" prioritizes employee skills and competencies over traditional job titles or roles.


Skyhive is a talent intelligence system designed to identify skills and trending jobs, labor market analytics, and individual skills profiles. The company sells an integrated platform and vast amounts of labor market data to HR organizations and talent planners.

Span of Control

Span of Control refers to the number of people reporting to a manager. The overall average across all industries is 6.7 (Visier benchmarks across 40,000 companies) but it varies widely by company.

In today's organizations this number is increasing as managers themselves work on teams, so people have a less 1:1 relationship with their manager.

Stakeholder Management

“Stakeholder management” is the process of identifying, communicating, and engaging with the different stakeholders that have (a direct or indirect) interest or can be affected by a particular initiative or decision.

Succession Planning

“Succession planning” (also referred to as Succession Management) is a systematic approach that ensures efficient and effective operational continuity through replacement planning on roles that are considered critical for the business. Succession planning is essential for the business as it helps in defining successors in an organization, including the leadership pipeline, technical roles, and business professional roles.

Systemic HR

"Systemic HR" is a transformative approach that redefines human resources from traditional, siloed operations to an integrated, strategic operating system aligned with the complexities of the post-industrial era. It emphasizes agility, adaptability, and a deep integration with business strategy, transforming HR roles into cross-functional, consultative partners that leverage data for decision-making and focus on driving business transformation and productivity.


T-Shaped Skill

A “t-shaped skill” is a model used to describe the type of twofold expertise required to perform a role. It consists of broad and deep abilities, and both must be present for this skill to be exercised.

Talent Acquisition

“Talent acquisition” (TA)is the task of finding talent for an organization. Companies that don’t attract, hire, and retain the right people simply can’t run well, so this is arguably one of the most critical HR activities.

Talent Density

"Talent density" refers to the ratio of highly skilled, high performers on the team out of the total employee population. Higher talent density leads to better innovation and performance.

Talent Development

“Talent development” encompasses a wide variety of activities in an organization that support employee and leader learning and growth. Deeply connected to an organization’s EVP (employee value proposition), a strong talent development strategy is a way to attract, retain, and engage high-performing talent in the company.

Talent Ecosystem

A talent ecosystem is a network of interconnected channels, platforms, and strategies that work together to identify, develop and utilize talent to meet the evolving needs of an organization. Strong talent ecosystems are agile, scalable, and diverse so that as an organization's talent needs change, the system can adapt to align and connect the business with the skills it needs to meet talent acquisition and business goals.

Talent Intelligence

Talent Intelligence is a new HR discipline that uses labor market data, skills data, and competitive market data to help companies understand skills gaps, recruiting strategies, and opportunities for internal redeployment and job redesign.

Talent Management

“Talent management” refers to the methodical organization of HR practices and processes set in place for maximizing the performance of employees so that they achieve subsequent business goals. Systemic talent management (STM) in particular is the latest approach in talent management.

Talent Marketplace

A “talent marketplace” is a place where an employee can go to find learning opportunities, job opportunities, projects, gigs, or mentors aligned with their areas of interest, all without having to go through hierarchical approvals. These platforms link with the HCM systems, job portals, and the LMS to point people to what they need to develop a new skill or embark on a new job or career.

Talent Mobility

“Talent mobility” refers to the movement of employees inside an organization. Historically, internal talent mobility meant planned, linear progression in one direction through a company as employees and their managers created plans for advancement inside a job or function, and then pursued the necessary steps successfully or unsuccessfully based on employee performance and business needs.

Talent Strategy

“Talent strategy” is the strategic approach taken to optimizing the entire array of HR capabilities that maximize the performance of the employees so that they achieve subsequent business goals. A talent strategy is implemented by an organization’s talent management practices.


Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is a leading global IT services and consulting company that offers a comprehensive portfolio of solutions and services to help organizations transform their businesses. TCS' consulting-led, cognitive-powered offerings span across business, technology, and engineering domains, enabling clients to navigate digital transformation and drive real growth.


SHL offers advanced talent assessment tools and analytics to help organizations evaluate and develop their workforce. Its solutions cover areas such as cognitive ability, personality, behavior, skills testing, and leadership development, aiming to improve hiring decisions and employee performance.

The JBC Lexicon

The Josh Bersin Company Lexicon is the world's largest and most complete dictionary of terms, practices, and important concepts in global human resources. Through decades of research and advisory work we have compiled hundreds of definitions you can use to better understand all aspects of HR, talent management, leadership, and HR technology.


Torch is a personalized, measurable coaching platform that enhances leadership development by integrating customizable content with assessments, assignments, and access to expert coaches and mentors.

Total Rewards

“Total Rewards” refers to the comprehensive set of compensation, benefits, and rewards that an employee may receive from their employer. Total rewards packages typically include financial components such as salary or wages, bonuses if applicable, stock options and health benefits, as well as nonfinancial components like recognition gifts, opportunities for growth and development, and work flexibility.

Training Orchestra

Training Orchestra is a specialized “learning resource management” system designed to manage and optimize events, courses, programs, activities, and the many other moving parts of a learning organization. The system empowers HR professionals to efficiently plan, deliver, and track training initiatives in alignment with organizational goals.

Tuition Assistance

Tuition assistance is a benefit that some employers offer to their employees to cover part or all of the cost of continuing education. This can include tuition for undergraduate or graduate courses, professional certification courses, or other forms of professional development and training.

Turnover Contagion

Turnover Contagion refers to the tendency for people to resign more frequently when one person in a team resigns. Research by Visier shows that the "contagion" effect increases turnover by 9.1% and the resignation increases over time to peak at around 120 days from the day the first person leaves.



Employee health, safety, and “wellbeing” have been around for 100+ years. During the Industrial Revolution, child labor laws and factory inspections kept workers safe.

White-Collar Workforce

The term "white collar" is used to describe a certain type of workforce. It generally refers to workers who perform professional, managerial, or administrative work, typically in an office or similar environment. The term "white collar" came into use because such workers historically would wear formal white collar shirts.

Work Design

“Work design” is part of the broader domain of Organization Design. It includes the processes, accountabilities, and technology support of specific tasks and work assignments.

Work-life Balance

“Work-life balance” (also referenced as “work-life integration”) is a metaphor that attempts to capture the relationship between a person’s professional and personal lives. Balanced work-life integration is one of the dimensions that our definitive guide to wellbeing.


Workday is a leading provider of cloud-based enterprise software solutions for finance, human resources, and planning.


Workera is a skills verification platform that helps enterprises evaluate, develop, and optimize the skills of their workforce, particularly in areas like data science, machine learning, and software engineering.

  • Workera was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

  • Workera's platform uses AI and a large skills dataset to accurately measure and assess the skills of employees across thousands of critical and emerging skill areas. This provides enterprises with detailed insights into their workforce capabilities.

  • Workera's solutions are used by large enterprises like Accenture, Siemens Energy, the U.S. Air Force, and Samsung to upskill and reskill their employees, identify skill gaps, and make better-informed talent decisions.

  • Workera was co-founded by Kian Katanforoosh, an award-winning lecturer at Stanford University, and Andrew Ng, a pioneer in machine learning and online education.

Workera takes broad skills domains and breaks them down into specific topics, sub-topics, and skills - then validates these skills through specific assessments. The assessments are continuously updated by Workera psychologists and academics.

Workforce Generations

“Workforce generations” represent generic groupings of age cohorts in the workplace. With longer careers and longer life spans, multiple generations co-exist in the workforce.

Workforce Planning

“Workforce planning” is a broad domain to create plans and strategies with the goal to get “the right people in the right jobs at the right time.” Workforce planning can occur on different time horizons (short and long term), different action levels (e.g., tactical and strategic), and needs to be integrated with various stakeholder groups (e.g., finance, IT, HR, and the business).

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