How to… evaluate a job

Job
evaluation is a means of establishing the relative worth of jobs within an
organisation, and is typically used to rank jobs within pay and grading
frameworks.

The
data compiled from its use can also assist with other HR responsibilities,
ranging from performance management to succession planning.

The
schemes fall into two distinct categories: non-analytical schemes – where jobs
are assessed and ranked relative to their importance or skill level required –
and analytical schemes. The latter are more popular, and break down jobs into a
series of factors such as skills, knowledge, responsibility and working
environment.

Each
of these different elements are then allocated points, which make a total
value. The factors may be weighted in relation to the overall importance
attached to a job to influence the final outcome.

Why
is it important?

It
is seen as a reliable method of job comparison which avoids bias; companies can
create a pay scale around what a job is worth, rather than on the perceived
value of a job title. Being able to demonstrate that the reward is fair and
transparent can boost morale, and allay any discontent among staff.

It
can also allow the benchmarking of pay scales with individuals performing
comparable work at other companies.

Job
evaluation is also a growing phenomenon in the UK – more than 40 per cent of
companies use it as a measure and nearly half of those that don’t, plan to
introduce it, according to a survey carried out by e-reward.co.uk. And with
good reason – pay and grading ranks as one of the top four sources of
grievance, according to an IRS survey conducted last year. Another trigger may
be new measures in the looming Equal Pay Act.

Where
do I start?

You
first need to determine what you want it to achieve. Do you want to link it to other
HR processes or is it intended to help with succession planning or
organisational design?

Conduct
detailed research on the whole area of job evaluation – are there similar
organisations that have gone through this exercise from which you could learn?
Also, find out who the specialists are in your area, and talk to them.

Whether
or not you choose to enlist the help of a specialist or set up a dedicated
internal taskforce, you need to invest significant time and resources in the
exercise, and be prepared for the outcome. Birmingham City Council, for
instance, has set up a 10-person taskforce to carry out a job evaluation of its
35,000 employees, and estimates that the exercise – due to be complete in 2004
– will cost an additional £15m in extra salary.

Communication
is all

How
you communicate the job evaluation project to the workforce is vitally
important. Explain exactly what the scheme entails and what it sets out to
achieve, so that employees won’t become suspicious about your intentions. Job
evaluation is all about fairness, and as long as the workforce is made aware of
this, the concept shouldn’t meet with too much resistance.

If
there is a union rep, make sure you consult with them. Selling it to senior
management is a priority – explain that it will genuinely make their lives
easier without throwing up fresh problems.

Consultancy
versus in-house

Putting
the system in place will involve a high degree of data collection and data
analysis, and you need to consider whether you or anyone in the department has
time and/or the ability to do this. If it is to be conducted internally, you
will need to appoint a project manager who can also manage the change
management and corporate communication aspects of the task.

The
best solution can be in partnership with a consultancy as it will buy in the
job evaluation methodology and expertise, while HR is in a position to
anticipate and deal with any problems.

Using
a consultancy should not be seen as a way of totally outsourcing job evaluation
and abdicating all responsibility for it. HR should remain involved every step
of the way and once implemented successfully, the consultancy can hand the
scheme’s management over to HR, but keep tabs on standards by undertaking
annual or bi-annual audits.

The
importance of job descriptions

Whether
you use a consultancy or go it alone, job descriptions are the bedrock of a job
evaluation system.

In
an ideal world, you will already have a comprehensive digital database of
descriptions of all positions held in your organisation, along with data such
as the qualifications required for that job and pay scales – they all need to
be regularly updated and revised.

Another
potential source of failure is that a job-holder may feel an evaluator doesn’t
understand their roles – job descriptions sometimes contain no more than a
vague depiction of duties, and they can feel their role is misrepresented. So
for the scheme to work, they or their managers must be consulted.

Where
can I get more info?

Websites

www.eoc.org.uk The Equal Opportunities
Commission has a comprehensive section on equal pay including a five-step guide
to its introduction.

If
you only do five things…

1
Determine what you want the evaluation to achieve

2
Communicate what you are doing to staff at all times

3
Even if you use a consultancy, stay involved

4
Make an audit of the state of your job descriptions – review and revise where
necessary

5
Remember that what you are doing has a human impact

Xpert’s
view Philip Wright on the importance of job evaluations

Philip
Wright is a consultant with the Hay Group specialising in job evaluation

Job
evaluation is growing in popularity. What are its main drivers?

Job
evaluation can highlight ‘grade drift’ (where grade and pay can be higher than
justified) and provide a more reliable basis upon which to compare market pay
data. Some approaches can be used as broader organisational design and review
tools. It is important for equal value and also helps optimise staff costs more
accurately.

How
important is the human touch in making the process work?

Good
job evaluation relies on a sound understanding of the job – this is rarely
provided by a job description alone. Evaluators should work with managers and
staff to gain this understanding and involve them in the process. A good
process has credibility within the organisation and should be visible.

What
major benefits are there of job evaluation – can it help in recruiting for a
position that is hard to fill?

Evaluation
can provide greater understanding and clarity about a role. This may translate
into a better appreciation of the size (and possible remuneration) of the role,
the true capability required, or may even highlight a fundamental flaw in the
role’s design – any of which may be a reason why a role is proving hard to fill.

What
are the most common reasons for its failure?

Problems
can occur where there is poor communication about the process and its purpose,
the chosen approach doesn’t reflect the culture, values or nature of the
organisation, job information is inaccurate, and the implementation of pay is
badly designed or handled.

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