job evaluation

What is Job Evaluation?

The concept of job evaluation describes a standardised approach to analyse and evaluate jobs within an organisation based on their formal work requirements. Common synonyms are job grading and position evaluation or else work analysis.

  • job evaluation determines the relative value of a position.
  • positions with a comparable set of requirements are shown on the same level (= grade).
  • job evaluation only determines the position‘s factual requirements, neither the incumbents‘ performance, nor the position title or the reporting line.

Evolution of Job Evaluation

Since humankind has developed the idea of exchanging work for monetary units, employers and employees have been trying to negotiate the value of and price for work. In the course of ongoing rationalisation and the beginning of scientific management around WWII, job evaluation became the subject of (more or less) scientific systematisation as well. At first the systems focused on the description of requirements and the evaluation of rather tangible tasks. The Geneva Scheme became a significant basis in Europe in the fifties and is still in use today. One further example is the REFA system. Developed in the twenties, this system first focused on the evaluation of piecework production jobs and was later adapted to include office functions as well.

In the USA, the system of Hay Guide Charts by Dale Purve is an early model whose first iterations were strongly influenced by scientific management principles.

These systems mostly evaluated the following factors:

  • Cognitive requirements
  • Physical requirements
  • Working conditions
  • Responsibilities

But changes in the world of work and society in general required and still require a further development of job evaluation systems: From the measurement of isolated tasks to a more holistic evaluation of the jobs’ requirements concerning professional knowledge, various responsibilities and communication or interpersonal skills.

Methods of Job Evaluation

Over time, two methods have found wide usage both in collective labour agreements and in levelling systems for compensation surveys. Along the refinement of methods the focus of the analysis has shifted from the detailed task-based analysis to a more holistic job evaluation approach.

Analytical Job Evaluation

Analytical job evaluation determines the requirements of a job with a system of levelled factors. For each factor points are awarded and the total score determines the grade of the job. These systems are in use both in collective labour agreements (e.g. ERA in Germany) and with several commercial providers of analytical job evaluation systems.

Particular attention must be paid to the selection and weighting of factors in order to make it a non-discriminatory system. If this condition is taken into consideration, an analytical job evaluation is distinguished by a high level of replicability, compelling evidence for increments in levels and minimised subjectivity. A challenge for number-based systems is the translation of qualitative requirements in computable point values.

Non-analytical (summary) Job Evaluation

Non-analytical job evaluation assesses the job requirements as a whole. The methods mostly consist of rankings in the form of paired rankings or job rankings across the entire organisation. The ranking of the value of jobs is made in direct comparison with „neighbouring“ positions.

A very frequently found variant is the assessment by standardised job descriptions. In this method, also called job classification, the number of grades and anchor positions are defined first. Next, the other positions are assigned / slotted to the appropriate grades and in case of compensation surveys to the appropriate job family / discipline.

Non-analytical job evaluation systems are popular due to their ease of use and widespread in labour agreements and compensation surveys. However, they also have the reputation of being gender and age discriminatory, because the global / summary assessment of a position can be biased by subjective decisions. Finally, an elaborate quality management process is required to ensure the compatibility and fairness of the results across different job families or sectors.

The overview Compensation Survey Rosetta Stone provides orientation for comparing gradar grades with levels from reward and pay surveys as well as from labour agreements.

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