I am often asked what does Job Evaluation involve? Well, it is a process for assessing the relative size of jobs in an organisation so that you can determine how much to pay staff I reply. Yes but what does it really involve? There are different ways of evaluating jobs but you start by defining the criteria you are going to use to compare jobs. For example, knowledge and skills, complexity etc. These in turn need to be defined in more detail by specifying the number of levels in each and describing what applies at every level. Okay but then what? Once you have agreed the criteria, which we call evaluation factors, you need to try them out on a sample of jobs just to make sure they fit the context, culture and values of the organisation. So that’s all there is to it? No, that’s just the start. Before you can do this in earnest you have to train the people who will evaluate the jobs. You also need to make sure you have up to date information on each job. Then you are good to go!

Okay talk me through this slowly so I get it. Start by organising evaluation sessions. Some organisations do this in short two-hour sessions, some one or two days at a time, others even do it in blocks of weeks at a time. Why does it take so long? The main concern is treating people fairly otherwise there is little point in evaluating jobs at all. To do that takes skill and time and if you rush through it mistakes will be made. So, if I have say 100 jobs to evaluate how long will it take? A good rule of thumb is an average of ten jobs a day over the duration of the project. Some days you will do more, others less. You also need to keep accurate records which takes time. Ten jobs a day doesn’t seem that many where does the time go? That’s a great question. I find the best way to evaluate jobs is to allow the evaluators time to read and discuss the job information, ask questions for clarification, and then assess the jobs individually. I then ask them to share their evaluations so they can reach a consensus. Its common for evaluators to see jobs differently and that is the power of a group approach. How do you resolve differences of opinion? Evaluators have to talk it through. You mention personal opinion and that captures the essence the challenge. An opinion is subjective and evaluators need to establish facts before they can reach agreement. Job information, lets say in a role profile or description, can be interpreted differently and that’s why discussion is so important. All too often I experience evaluators rushing to the end result only to be faced with disagreement and prolonged debate. If you take time to discuss jobs properly agreement is much easier to achieve.

So, I kind of get this but what do the outputs of job evaluation look like? Normally you get a job size which is a number expressed in job units. Job sizes vary from under 100 up to several thousand job units depending on the job and the size of organisation. Some processes only give a level.

How does this all link to pay? Much depends on how the client wants to manage pay. In most instances job evaluation underpins the grade structure and job size determines the grade for the job. In others job size is used directly to assess market rates specific to the job. There is no right answer and in many cases clients use both approaches.