Definition

core HR (core human resources)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: The essential guide to managing HR technology trends
Contributor(s): Diann Daniel and Dan Ring

Core HR (core human resources) is an umbrella term that means the basic functions of an HR department; the basic data captured about employees; and the software used to manage basic HR processes. Core HR is typically used in three distinct ways:

  • to refer to the basic functions of an HR department;
  • to mean the basic data captured about employees; and
  • as shorthand for the core HR software needed to enable the first two.

Core HR functions of the human resources department

Core functions of the HR department commonly include employee recruitment, scheduling, payroll, benefits administration, internal relations, employee training, compliance and safety. Core HR is sometimes used to mean these basic HR responsibilities in human capital management (HCM).

Core HR information

In the HR data sense, core HR means the personnel information required to legally employ and administer to employees. This includes employee addresses, birth dates, and U.S. Social Security numbers or national identification numbers; employment eligibility forms; salary and payroll information; compliance with organizational or government rules; work hours and absence tracking; and benefits information.

Core HR information also includes information such as job descriptions and titles and organizational structures.

Core HR software

The term core HR has largely come to mean the core HR software, or technology, that is used to manage basic information and processes pertaining to personnel, in other words, to manage the core HR information. In this category, Oracle HCM, SAP SuccessFactors, and Workday HCM are just a few examples.

Note that core HR technology systems have long been marketed under the labels HRIS (human resources information system) and HRMS (human resource management system), but HCM has begun to displace both terms in recent years.

Core HR software functions

Core HR software functions

Although functions vary from vendor to vendor and specific software, core HR platforms typically store basic information about an organization's employees in a centralized database. The database contains personally identifiable information (PII) such as employee addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers or national identification numbers, as well as other information about the employee, including:

  • job specifics such as title and description;
  • payroll information such as salary and tax withholding;
  • enrollment data for benefits such as health, dental and vision;
  • sick days and vacation days;
  • documentation for mandatory training; and
  • worker eligibility forms documenting right to work in country of employment.

Core HR software self-service portal

Many software applications that support core HR functions provide managers and employees with a self-service portal. Depending on the vendor and the company's processes, self-service portals may enable managers or employees the capabilities to make updates to basic employee information, thereby boosting accuracy of such information and avoiding delays in updates; get information on pay and benefits; access training; deliver reports; and more.

Employee self-service portals are increasingly being offered via mobile apps, and represent a particular area where the use of mobile HR is growing.

Integration with talent management, other systems

Software for automating the entering, managing and tracking of core HR records is often integrated with software for related HR processes such as talent management. The software can also integrate core HR with other HR functions such as workforce planning and learning management

The evolving HR department

The concept of what is core to the HR function is evolving rapidly as major cultural shifts occur in employment and as HR technology enables the human resources department to take greater strategic roles within the organization. Core HR software is considered by many organizations to be pivotal in this shift as it frees up time formerly spent on time-consuming administrative duties.

As just a few examples, the information from core HR, including job titles of employees, number of employees in the company and their salaries can be vital for effective HR management. In workforce planning, for example, a precise head count is needed for projecting future labor needs. In learning management, an employee may need training or classes for compliance. And in succession management, job titles and descriptions are helpful for managers and employees.

This was last updated in September 2017

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