The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand - Logo

The Human Resources Institute of New Zealand

Human Resources Institute of New Zealand (HRINZ) is the professional body for those involved in Human Resource Management and the development of people.

HRINZ represents the interests of 3,000+ individual members who make up around 45% of the known New Zealand HR market. Read More

Profile ID


Remember me

Glossary of HR Terms

For the benefit of students of management and human resources management and those new to the HR profession.

Jump to:  A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R,S,T,U,W,

If, having read the Glossary, you feel that there are any omissions, then contact HRINZ

 term Definition 

Absolute Ratings

A rating method where the rater assigns a specific value on a fixed scale to
the behavior or performance of an individual instead of assigning ratings based on comparisons between other individuals.

Accident Compensation

The Accident Compensation Corporation.

Affirmative Action

Also : Positive discrimination.
Carried out on behalf of women and disadvantaged groups and members of such groups are placed in dominant positions. 


See Performance planning.


A term used to describe voluntary and involuntary terminations, deaths, and employee retirements that result in a
reduction to the employer's physical workforce.

Autocratic Leadership

Leader determines policy of the organisation, instructs members what to do/make, subjective in approach, aloof and impersonal.

Balanced Scorecard

A popular strategic management concept developed in the early 1990's by Drs. Robert Kaplan and David Norton,
the balanced scorecard is a management and measurement system which enables organisations to clarify their vision
and strategy and translate them into action. The goal of the balanced scorecard is to tie business performance to organisational strategy
by measuring results in four areas: financial performance, customer knowledge, internal business processes, and learning and growth.

Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

An appraisal that requires raters list important dimensions of a particular job and collect information regarding
the critical behaviors that distinguish between successful and unsuccessful performance.
These critical behaviours are then categorised and appointed a numerical value which is used as the basis for rating performance.

Behavioural Based Interview

An interview technique which focuses on a candidates past experiences, behaviours, knowledge, skills and abilities
by asking the candidate to provide specific examples of when they have demonstrated certain behaviours or skills as a means of predicting future behaviour and performance.

Behavioural Competency

The behaviour of the employee which is the subject of measurement and appraisal in terms of whether or not the behaviours
shown by an employee are those identified by job analysis/competency profiling as those contributing to team and/or organisational success.


A technique using quantitative or qualitative data to make comparisons between different organisations or different sections of the organisations

Bereavement Leave

Secton 69 to 72 of the Holidays Act 2003 provides a specific number of paid days off following the death of an employee’s spouse, parent,
child grandparent or in-law so that the employee may attend funeral proceedings, etc.


The process of identifying and differentiating an organization’s products, processes or services from another organization by giving it a name, phrase or other mark.


A pay structure that consolidates a large number of narrower pay grades into fewer broad bands with wider salary range.


The practice of allowing more senior level employees whose positions have been slotted for elimination or downsizing the option of
accepting an alternative position within the organisation, for which they may be qualified to perform and which is currently occupied by another employee with less seniority.
Change Management The deliberate effort of an organisation to anticipate change and to manage its introduction, implementation, and consequences.

Clean Slate

The Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004 establishes a clean slate scheme to limit the effect of an individual's
convictions in most circumstances (subject to certain exceptions set out in Section 19) if the individual satisfies the relevant eligibility criteria.
Coaching A one-to-one process between a manager and subordinate, whereby the former will ‘train’ the latter. See also Mentoring.

Collective Bargaining

The process by which [an] employer[s] will negotiate employment contracts with [a] union[s].

Common law

Decisions of the Courts also known as Precedent. Distinguished from Legislation.

Competency-based pay

Competency based pay is a compensation system that recognises employees for the depth, breadth,
and types of skills they obtain and apply in their work. Also known as skill based and knowledge based pay.

Compensation Compensation for injury to an employee arising out of and in the course of employment that is paid to the worker or dependents
by an employer whose strict liability for such compensation is established by statute.
Where established by statute, workers' compensation is generally the exclusive remedy for injuries arising from employment,
with some exceptions. Workers' compensation statutes commonly include explicit exclusions for injury caused intentionally,
by willful misconduct, and by voluntary intoxication from alcohol or illegal drugs.


‘An underlying characteristic of a person’ ‘motive, trait, skill, aspect of one’s self-image or social role, or a body of knowledge’.

Competitive advantage

‘People are the source of competitive advantage’. Other systems in an organisation can be copied but not the people in the organisation.

Confidentiality agreement

An agreement restricting an employee from disclosing confidential or proprietary information.

Constructive dismissal

1. Coercion by threats to act promises to refrain and includes a resignation given as an alternative to be dismissed.
2. A breach of duty by the employer leading a worker to resign.
Contingent workers Employees who may be: casual labour, part-timers, freelancers, subcontractors, independent professionals and consultants.
Contract for services An agreement with an independent contractor.
Contract of service An employment agreement.

Core competencies

The skills, knowledge and abilities which employees must possess in order to successfully perform job functions which are essential to business operations.
Core Labour Force A small group of permanent workers, for example, strategists, planners.
Corporate mission The aims and objectives of an organisation.
Cost leadership A strategy of becoming the lowest-cost producer in its industry.
Critical incidents A method of avoiding the subjective judgements which are the feature of most ranking and rating systems. It is the keeping,
by management, of a record of on-job incidents or behaviours which may be examples of [in]effective behaviour and used as
background information for subsequent discussions and performance appraisals.
Customer capital The relationships an organisation has with the people it does business with, including suppliers, ‘brand equity’ and ‘goodwill’. See also Structural capital.
Cyclical unemployment A form of unemployment – rises in times of economic recession and falls in times of prosperity. Now shows signs of being able to withstand increased prosperity.
Decision Tree Model One of the Contingency theories of leadership – developed by Vroom and Yettor (1973).
Delayering The removal of hierarchical layers in an organisation.
Delegated Legislation Laws made by Ministers by authority of an Act of Parliament.
Deregulation The removal of entities such as financial markets, road and transport from governmental control.
Differentiation A strategy of being unique in an industry on dimensions customers value.

Distance Learning

The process of delivering educational or instructional programmes to locations away from a classroom or site to another location by
varying technology such as video or audio-conferencing, computers, web-based applications or other multimedia communications.
Disciplinary procedure A procedure carried out in the workplace in the event of an employee committing some act contrary to terms of the
employment agreement. If the act is regarded as Gross Misconduct this may lead to Summary Dismissal.
Discrimination The favouring of one group of people to the detriment of others.
Distributive bargaining Related to the process of Negotiation. Known also as Competitive bargaining –
The parties are concerned with their respective shares of the benefits available and compete and conflict with each
other until one side wins an increased share at the expense of the other.
Dual Labour Markets Organisations will operate with a small Core Labour Force and a Peripheral Labour Force.

Due diligence

A critical component of mergers and acquisitions, it is the process by investigation and evaluation is conducted to
examine the details of a particular investment or purchase by obtaining sufficient and accurate information
or documents which may influence the outcome of the transaction.
E-commerce The use of the internet to market and sell goods and services

Emotional Intelligence

Describes the mental ability an individual possess enabling him/her to be sensitive and understanding to
the emotions of others as well as being able to manage their own emotions and impulses.
Employee See Section 6 Employment Relations Act 2000.
Employment Court Ultimate court dealing with employment disputes.

Employee Relations

A broad term used to refer to the general management and planning of activities related to
developing, maintaining, and improving employee relationships by communicating with employees,
processing grievances/disputes, etc.

Employee retention

Organisational policies and practices designed to meet the diverse needs of employees, and create an environment
that encourages employees to remain employed.
Employment Relations Authority New body to be set up under Section 156 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 which replaces the Employment Tribunal.


The process of enabling or authorising an individual to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision-making in autonomous ways.
Ergonomics The measurement of physical characteristics of the human body and the development of equipment to fit them, so that strain on the body is reduced.
Equity theory Based on the notion that people are motivated by a desire for fairness, that is, to be treated fairly and will compare their
own efforts and the rewards of others in the organisation with a view to judging the fairness of their treatment.
Exit Interview An interview between a member of staff of the organisation that an employee is leaving to ascertain the reasons for the employee leaving the organisation.
Should not be carried out by employee’s immediate superior. Used for possible changes.
Extrinsic rewards Two forms : Money and non-money rewards. Examples : job enrichment, job enlargement, personal and working relationships with colleagues and supervisors and managers.
Fixed Term Employment An employee and an employer may agree that the employment of the employee will end at the close of a specified date or period or on the occurrence
of a specified event or at the conclusion of a specified project. See Section 56 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.
Freedom of association The right to belong to a union. As protected by the Human Rights Act 1993.
Functional job analysis The preparation required for the construction of a job description. It is necessary to collect data on the job to be advertised.


Baby Boomers –The term used to describe those individuals born between 1945 and 1970.
Generation X - The term used to describe individuals born between 1965 and 1980.
Generation Y - The term used to describe individuals born between 1985 and the present.
Generation I - The term used to describe children born after 1994 that are growing up in the Internet age.

Goal Setting

The process of setting and assigning a set of specific and attainable goals to be met by an individual, group or organisation.

Good faith bargaining

A duty under Section 4 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 to conduct negotiations where two parties meet and confer at reasonable times
with open minds and the intention of reaching an agreement.


A complaint brought by one party to an employment contract against another party.

Group dynamics

The social manner in which people interact with each other within a group.

Gross misconduct

An act committed by any personnel likely to lead to Summary Dismissal.

HR Audit

A method by which human resources effectiveness can be assessed. Can be carried out internally or HR audit systems are available.

Hawthorne Effect

A term produced as a result of an experiment conducted by Elton Mayo whereby he concluded that expressing concern for employees
and treating them in a manner which fulfills their basic human needs and wants will ultimately result in better performance.

Hierarchy of needs

A psychology theory ascribed to Abraham H. Maslow in which he proposed that people will constantly seek to have their basic needs
(sleep, food, water, shelter, etc.) fulfilled and that such needs ultimately determine behaviour.
HR information systems A discrete computerised information system for HR purposes.

HR Management

The management of human resources within an organisation.
HR planning The activity of planning human resources usually in connection with the overall strategic planning of the organisation.

Human Capital

The collective knowledge, skills and abilities of an organisation’s employees.

Incentive pay

Additional compensation used to motivate and to reward employees for exceeding performance or productivity goals.
Independent contractor A person who works for him/herself but has a contract for services with another person/organisation.

Individual employment agreement

The legal relationship between an employee and employer. See Part 6 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.


The process of introducing a new employee into the organisation.
Industrial relations The study of theories and practices in the workplace relationship.

Intangible rewards

Non-monetary re-enforcers such as praise given to an employee in recognition of a job well done, or a particular achievement.

International Labour Organisation

An organisation set up by the United Nations to establish, amongst other matters, conventions on practices in the workplace.

Intrinsic reward

A reward given to an employee for achievement of a particular goal, objective or project.
ISO 9000 Developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), it is a set of standards for quality management systems
that is accepted around the world. Organisations that conform to these standards can receive ISO 9000 certification.
The standard intended for quality management system assessment and registration is ISO 9001. The standards apply uniformly to organisations of any size or description.
Job analysis The preparatory stage for writing job descriptions.

Job Description

A written description of a job which includes information regarding the general nature of the work to be performed,
specific responsibilities and duties, and the employee characteristics required to perform the job.

Job evaluation

Used for compensation planning purposes, it is the process of comparing a job with other jobs in an organisation
to determine an appropriate pay rate for the job.

Key Result areas

Used to establish standards and objectives, key result areas are the chief tasks of a job identified during the job evaluation process.


‘Knowledge, Skills and Abilities’ - Key Performance Indicators.
Tasks that have been agreed between an employee and line manager/HR with an expectation that they will be
completed satisfactorily in the time agreed or as an ongoing task.
KSAs Knowledge, skills and abilities – the personal attributes that a person has to have to perform the job requirements.

Labour Market

A geographical or occupational area in which factors of supply and demand interact.

Labour force mobility

The willingness of potential employees to travel or move to where work is offered.

Labour force participation

A rate at which the number of people in the labour force is divided by the number of people of working age x 100.


The process, by which an individual determines direction, influences a group and directs them toward a specific goal or organisational mission.

Leadership Development

Formal and informal training and professional development programmes designed for all management and executive level employees to assist them in developing the leadership skills and styles required to deal with a variety of situations.


Law emanating from Parliament in the form of Acts.


In the event of a redundancy situation occurring, the system of ‘last in first out’ is regarded as the most equitable method of choosing those who should be made redundant.

Lump sum payment

A fixed negotiated payment which is not typically included in an employee’s annual salary. Often times given in lieu of pay increases.

Matrix organisation

An organisational structure where employees report to more then one manager or supervisor.

Mediation Services

The process of intervention by a specialist in an employment dispute. Provided under the Employment Relations Act 2000.


A one-to-one process between an outside trainer and an employee, whereby the former will ‘train’ the latter. See also Coaching.
Minimum wages

The lowest level of earnings of employees set by Government.

Mission Statement

A statement illustrating who the company is, what the company does, and where the company is headed.
Motivation The reason(s) why a person works at a particular job and for a particular organisation. Subject to various theories relating to the way they do things.
Motivational theories An attempt to explain how people are motivated, in the form of work behaviour and performance.

Mutuality of interests

Relating to Performance Management. Both employer and employee have a mutual interest in achieving organisational objectives.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

A psychological test used to assess an individuals personality type.


The process of discussion with a view to mutual settlement usually by the means of a conference.


Favouritism shown to relatives by individuals in a position of authority such as CEO’s, managers or supervisors.

Observation interview

The process of observing employees while performing their respective jobs or tasks used to collect data regarding specific jobs or tasks.


A relatively new term, it is more far reaching than historical orientation programmes. It links new employees with team members very early in the
employment process and continuing after the traditional orientation programme ends.


Occupational health and safety – the law relating to the health and safety of personnel at work.

Organisational Culture

A pattern that emerges from the interlocking system of the beliefs, values and behavioural expectations of all the members of an organisation.

Organisational theories

The scientific management movement and human relations school were two early organisational theories. Both had impact on the development of human resources management.


The introduction of employees to their jobs, co-workers, and the organisation by providing them with information regarding such items as policies,
procedures, company history, goals, culture, and work rules. Similar to Induction.


A benefit offered by the employer to displaced employees which may consist of such services as job counselling, training, and job-finding assistance.


A contractual agreement between an employer and an external third party provider whereby the employer transfers responsibility and management for
certain HR, benefit or training related functions or services to the external provider.

Paid Parental Leave

Supported by legislation allowing [possibly later in 2000] 12 weeks paid leave which a new mother may share with her partner, funded by a payroll levy.

Pareto chart

A bar graph used to rank in order of importance information such as causes or reasons for specific problems so that measures for process improvement can be established.


Base pay is the fixed salary or wage which constitutes ‘the rate for the job’. It may be the only money remuneration an employee receives.

Peer appraisal

A performance appraisal strategy whereby an employee is reviewed by his/her peers who have sufficient opportunity to examine the individual’s job performance.

Peripheral Labour Force

Employees less critical to organisational success and can be expendable.

Performance Management

This is a process of identifying, evaluating and developing the work performance of employees in an organisation, in order that organisational objectives are more effectively achieved and understood by employees.

Performance planning

A total approach to managing people and performance. Involving setting performance aims and expectations for the organisation, departments and individuals employees.

Personal grievance

A complaint brought by one party to an employment contract against another party. See Part 9 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.

Positive discrimination

See Affirmative action.


See Common law.

Probationary Arrangements

Where the parties to an employment agreement agree as part of the agreement that an employee will serve a period of probation or trial after the
commencement of the employment. See Section 66 Employment Relations Act 2000.

Quality management

The process or system of ensuring that a product or service should do what the user needs or wants and has a right to expect.
There are five dimensions to quality, design, conformance, availability, safety and field use.

Random Testing

Drug and alcohol tests administered by an employer which selects employees to be tested on a random basis.


The process of bringing into an organisation personnel who will possess the appropriate education, qualifications, skills and experience for the post offered.


The act of dismissing an employee when that employee is surplus to the requirements of the organisation.

Replacement charts

A summarisation in visual form the numbers of incumbents in each job or family of jobs, the number of current vacancies per job
and the projected future vacancies. See Succession planning.

Remuneration Remuneration includes any payment made under a contract for services.

Request for proposal (RFP)

A document an organisation sends to a vendor inviting the vendor to submit a bid for a product or, service.

Restrictive covenant

A contract clause requiring executives or other highly skilled employees to refrain from seeking and obtaining employment with
competitor organisations in a specific geographical region and for a specified period of time.

Return on investment (ROI)

A ratio of the benefit or profit derived from a specific investment compared to the cost of the investment itself.

Right to manage The ‘right’ of management to make decisions and to run an organisation without interference from external or internal forces.

Risk management

The use of insurance and other strategies in an effort to minimize an organisation’s exposure to liability in the event a loss or injury occurs.

Scalar chain

A concept from the French industrialist Henri Fayol who established the concept of unity of command
[‘ and employee should receive orders from one superior only ’] and scalar chain [‘ the chain of superiors ranging
from the ultimate authority to the lowest ranks………the line of authority followed by all communications


Is a term used most commonly to describe a base pay which is set at an annual rate and remains unchanged from one
pay period to the next, regardless of the number of hours an employee may work.

Selection ratio

The ratio of the number of people hired to the number of suitably qualified candidates obtained.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven methodology used to eliminate defects and improve processes and
cut costs from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.


The term given to the situation whereby firms have a number of groups, each having their own set of interests, possibly conflicting with each other.

Strategic architecture The core competencies that an organisation has.
Strategic HRM

The process of aligning human resources more closely to the strategic and operating objectives of the organisation.

Strategic Planning

The process of identifying an organisation's long-term goals and objectives and then determining the best approach for achieving those goals and objectives.

Structural capital

The databases, customer files, manuals, trademarks etc that remain in a firm once employees go home. See Customers capital.

Succession planning

Involving identifying a potential candidate to replace core individual employees either known to be leaving the firm
at some point in the future and/or whose sudden departure would pose a risk to the operation of the firm.

Summary dismissal

The act of dismissing personnel immediately, usually because the person has committed some act of Gross Misconduct.


A form of disciplinary action resulting in an employee being sent home without pay for a specified period of time.

Tangible rewards

Rewards which can be physically touched or held (i.e. a gift certificate, gifts in the form of merchandise, or a savings bond).

Theory X & theory Y Two conflicting assumptions which are behind thinking on human nature and human behaviour as related to the employee and the workplace.

360-degree feedback

An appraisal process whereby an individual is rated on their performance by people who know something about their work.
This can include direct reports, peers, managers, customers or clients; in fact anybody who is credible to the individual
and is familiar with their work can be included in the feedback process. The individual usually completes a self-assessment
exercise on their performance, which is also used in the process.

Total Remuneration

The complete pay package awarded employees on an annual basis, including all forms of money, benefits, services, and in-kind payments.

Training and development

A process dealing primarily with transferring or obtaining knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to carry out a specific activity or task.

Training Needs Analysis

A method of analysing how employee skill deficits can be addressed through current or future training and professional development
programs, as well as determining the types of training/development programs required, and how to prioritise training/development.


Describes changes in the work force resulting from voluntary or involuntary resignations.


Groups of workers who have formed incorporated associations relating to the type of work that they perform.

Unjustifiable dismissal

The act of terminating an employee’s employment agreement for a reason that the Employment Relations Authority
or Employment Court regards as unjustifiable.

Wage curve

Depicts pay rates currently being paid for each job within a pay grade in relation with the rankings awarded to each
job during the job evaluation process.


Wages – is a term used most commonly to describe a base pay which is calculated on a hourly, daily or weekly basis.
Depending on whether the employment is permanent, temporary or casual, full time or part-time basis, or according to the requirements
of the applicable employment agreement. The amount of wages will vary (usually) according to the number of hours the employee works.

Wage drift

The gap between the Collective Agreement rate and the rate actually paid. Evidence of geographical variations in wage levels.

Wellness programme

Programmes such as on-site or subsidised fitness centres, health screenings, smoking cessation, weight reduction/management,
health awareness and education which target keeping employees healthy therefore lowering costs to the employer associated
with absenteeism, lost productivity and increased health insurance claims.


Whistle blower protection is contained in the Protected Disclosures Act 2000. The Act provides protection to employees against
retaliation for reporting illegal acts of employers. An employer may not rightfully retaliate in any way, such as discharging, demoting,
suspending or harassing the whistle blower. Employer retaliation of any kind may result in the whistle blower bringing a personal grievance against the employer.

Work-life Balance

Having a measure of control over when, where and how an individuals works, leading to their being able to enjoy an optimal quality of life.
Work-life balance is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm,
to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.

Workplace Bullying

Persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour or unfair actions directed at another individual, causing the recipient to feel threatened, abused, humiliated or vulnerable.


  • Human Resources Management in New Zealand 2nd Edition
  • The Strategic Management of Human Resources in New Zealand
  • US Society for Human Resource Management

Knowledge Base Search | Browse Topics: A-H  I-P  Q-Z |

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Contact HRINZ for help.

For articles, tips and tools members can view HR Guides, Human Resources Magazine and Other HR Articles.

Disclaimer: This information has been written for and submitted to HRINZ for publication and has been published in good faith for the general information of HRINZ Members of the Institute. HRINZ accepts no legal responsibility for the contents of the Knowledge Base and appropriate professional advice and assistance should be sought in particular cases.

MoST Content Management V3.0.7013