Job evaluation is a systematic process of establishing the relative worth of jobs within an organization. This result in the ranking of jobs into grades. Grades group jobs of equal value to the organization. The end goal of any job evaluation exercise is to enable the organization to set equitable salaries.
Given the importance of job evaluation, I can not see how an organization can run smoothly without job evaluation. Others may think they are too small to have a job evaluation system. However, eventually, as they hire more people, they will start getting complaints from employees on the fairness of the remuneration system. Therefore, I urge every organization to ensure that there is a job evaluation system in place that will enable an equitable pay system.
Organizations should consider job evaluation for a variety of reasons. First, it allows for a more equitable distribution of wages and salaries within the organization. By evaluating jobs based on their value to the organization, employers can ensure that employees are paid fairly for their work. This can help reduce pay disparities between employees, leading to improved morale and productivity.
Evaluating jobs must be done before comparing how an organization pays versus the market. One of the significant assumptions of job evaluation is that a job possesses some internal value to the organization independent of the supply and demand for such skills on the market. While this is debatable, the starting point in setting salaries in job evaluation.
The biggest threat to a credible job evaluation process is poorly developed job descriptions. In a hurry to complete the job evaluation, organizations have done a poor job in this area. The quality control by line managers and HR teams is poor. They let poorly developed job descriptions get to the evaluation stage leading to disputes.
While the best job descriptions are those developed by subject matter experts for each role, it's impossible to go that route due to costs. The only option left for many organizations is incumbent-developed job descriptions. Such job descriptions are often inflated, targeting to go into a higher grade. Therefore, line managers must check the job descriptions for accuracy and authenticity. The HR teams must come in as the final quality controllers before jobs are signed off for job evaluation. The job evaluation process can produce the desired results if the job descriptions are done well.
The other big challenge around job evaluation is politics. In poorly managed organizations, job evaluation can be used to punish people through downgrades. In such organizations, the process has irregularities from the beginning. This starts with having an unclear reason for implementing job evaluation. For a job evaluation project to succeed, there must be clear reasons for such a project. There are many noble reasons why such a project should be undertaken, for example, the need to bring equity in how pay is administered. That is the only compelling business reason. All the other reasons tend to be political. Where there is political manipulation, you often encounter interference in grading jobs. This may start with senior people approving inflated job descriptions. Some jobs are whittled down, so they do not go into the rightful grade. To create a credible grading structure, avoid politics and do the process professionally.
The most significant danger of over or under-grading jobs is that you will short-change the business. If you over grade, you end up overpricing jobs. Under-pricing can lead to staff turnover and failure to attract the right people into those jobs. That way, you lose money by paying jobs remuneration they do not deserve.
Another big challenge with job evaluation is that those tasked with evaluating the job fail to make a difference between the job and the job incumbent. They are often tempted to evaluate the person instead of the job bringing severe challenges to the credibility of the process. One solution to this problem is to use outside Consultants to do the evaluation instead of using an internal team. The core principle is that the job descriptions can be done so well that the job's worth can be assessed based on the job description and not the person occupying the job.
Another critical principle is that the relative worth of the job is tied to one organization. This means the relative value is not transferable to other organizations. For example, an Accountant graded as a D1 in one organization could end up in a higher or lower grade in another organization based on the content of the job.
Job evaluation is a complex process that requires careful consideration of the job's duties, responsibilities, and qualifications. It is vital to ensure that the job is accurately evaluated and that employees are rewarded fairly for their work. Ultimately, job evaluation helps create a fair and equitable workplace where everyone can thrive.
Memory Nguwi is an Occupational Psychologist, Data Scientist, Speaker, & Managing Consultant- Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm.
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