Tension in the air: job evaluation for a changing world

Is your job evaluation approach fit for the future?

Clients are increasingly talking to us about the need for job evaluation.  But with conflicting drivers and needs, many find the traditional points-based approach is more a blocker than an enabler. 

On the one hand, the government has bought income equality to the fore. The ramifications of gender pay gap reporting and potential CEO pay ratios are unknown. Companies want to ensure that they are on solid ground. Often looking to use job evaluation as a tool to protect against litigation, giving themselves (and their lawyers) comfort.

On the other, is the desire to implement a framework that supports the business and its people in an ever-changing environment.  One that’s impacted by the outside world, responding to performance and the market.

Although a sophisticated points-based job evaluation may seem, on the surface to tick the first box, I find it just isn’t the best approach for many clients.

The comfort with job evaluation is that it provides a level of granularity.  Providing step by step progression and a framework for internal equity of pay and reward.  But, regardless of granularity, there is still subjectivity involved in the allocation of points. 

And subjectivity brings concerns if employees feel the process isn’t transparent or fair. Take the recent Asda tribunal case where bias is claimed against women’s work.  Or teaching assistants in Derby where the outcome of evaluation has led to changed terms and on-going strikes.

Organisations are increasingly fluid and agile to respond to economic demands and the way that talent wants to work. This increases the need to understand the current and likely future shape of the organisation.  And with talent flowing in and out, employees want to quickly understand where they fit in.

This is why transparency in pay continues to be a key driver of engagement (Aon) and “How people perceive their pay matters more than what they’re actually paid and the more information they have the less likely they are to quit” (Payscale).

All frameworks must therefore be agile and transparent. For me, and many of our clients, traditional job evaluation doesn’t tick those boxes.  We’re increasingly asked to rationalise levels, reduce complexity and design a much lighter touch.  This is where job classification comes in.

Job classification based on robust factors gives shape to an organisation and provides a systematic framework to guide consistent decisions.  The beauty of its simplicity is that it can be can respond to changing organisational needs and be openly shared (in fact, it can be transparent to the point of involving employees in the design).

This gives a much healthier foundation upon which to build pay structures and talent frameworks.

The Institute of Employment Studies agrees: “Effective job evaluation today is straightforward, tailored and transparent, and reinforces and rewards individual skills and competencies that will further employee development and organisational success in the future” 

So rather than hide behind a pseudo-scientific process, embrace the transparency that employees find engaging and ensure your people foundations are fit for the new ways of working.


At Verditer we partner with clients to make reward and performance management more effective.  Contact us to hear more about our approach to job classification, pay equality and pay structures

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Image courtesy of Quin Dombrowski