National Remuneration Centre
ABN: 76 713 910 261
Level 14, 227 Collins St
Melbourne Vic 3000
www.natrem.com.au

Job Evaluating Like an Expert

Frequently, a job evaluation needs to be conducted where information about the job is limited. This can also be the case where the job is not specified fully, such as for a newly planned job, or where the organisation structure to contain the job is being formulated.

The ideal job evaluation requires:

  • Broad information about the organisation containing the job: total annual revenue/budget, industry, products/services and markets.
  • A good understanding of what the job is about or, at least, a very good job description. This should specify unambiguously the level of technical and non-technical skills required and should provide measurable levels for the quantitative and qualitative responsibilities of the job.
  • An organisation chart showing:
    (a) The position the job reports to.
    (b) Other positions reporting to the same superior.
    (c) The roles of all positions reporting directly to the job being evaluated.
    (d) The numbers of FTE employees in the job's various areas of authority.

    When all this information is not immediately at hand, or will take too long to obtain, or its assembling cannot be justified on economic grounds because of the standing of the job, or is still substantially unknown (as in hypothetical situations), then the evaluator can use comparative methods to arrive at a viable evaluation.

    Job evaluation points methods assess a job's requirements with respect to a number of factors. Each piece of information about a job allows the assessor to make a judgement about the level of the job's requirement with respect to each factor. The job evaluation system then combines these assessments to form a single measure called 'job points'.

    Consider these two diagrams:

    ABCD
    EFGH
    IJKL
     
    +BC+
    +FGH
    IJK+

    Assume that the system being used requires twelve pieces of information (A to L) about the job - as represented by the left-hand diagram - to make the 'ideal' assessment. Consider now the situation where only four of the twelve pieces of information are available (e.g. for A, D, E, and L) as marked on the right-hand diagram. Based on the restricted amount of information available, can we arrive at a viable evaluation for this job?

    The answer is yes. For a number of common-sense reasons.

    First, we must dispel the belief that there is such a thing as a truly 'unique' job. If one considers all the inputs to and outputs from any job, various combinations of these are likely to be found in an almost unlimited number of other jobs. Widely differing jobs can use similar technologies (e.g. computers, telephones, motor vehicles). Jobs in the same industry use similar equipment (they may even obtain the equipment from the same supplier), or they use similar processes, and they experience similar operational and maintenance issues. There are jobs that are subject to the same rules and standards (e.g. accounting standards, government regulations, cultural norms), or need to manage within the same economic, business, or competitive environment. What this means is that there are aspects that can be pertinent to dissimilar jobs and impinge on them in substantially similar ways. This leads to the idea of inferring aspects of one or more possibly quite dissimilar jobs into another job.

    Efficiency brings the characteristics of disparate jobs closer together. Organisations strive to function as efficiently as they can, and in so doing keep themselves informed about best practices. If this proposition is valid, then organisations will be using like methodologies, ones that are currently considered to be optimum. This further homogenises certain aspects of jobs, and especially so in the use of well-distributed technologies.

    Education, training and collaboration are further factors that can mould common approaches to the way jobs are structured. Educational institutions teach the same validated methods and debate a common range of theories. Training courses explain similar approaches to particular subjects. Conferences are attended, and ideas and approaches are discussed with colleagues in other organisations - both formally and informally. Books are read that present similar ways to examine issues. All these considerations lead to jobs, and the workplace, being structured from a universal and prescribed range of points of view.

    Therefore, reference to other jobs can give us a clue as to what is a likely assessment or range of assessments for the unresolved evaluation factors.

    Based on such comparative examination, let us assume that we are able to agree on a reasonable range of assessments for a further three factors. We will mark those three factors (say B, G, K) as follows:

    +=C+
    +F=H
    IJ=+

    To recap: For factors A, D, E, and L we have a reasonably certain determination of their values. For factors B, G, K we have a range of what we believe are reasonable assessments inferred from other jobs within the organisation, or in a similar industry to the one in which the organisation operates, or those with comparable aspects in the broader community.

    Given our assessments thus far, we need to make judgements regarding the outstanding factors C, F, H, I and J. To make these assessments we use a principle of internal consistency. For example, assume factor A measures the education level required to perform the job and C measures its problem solving requirements. If the education level determined for A is low then we cannot expect the job to require a very high rating on the problem-solving factor C. By considering all determined (A, D, E, L) and assumed (B, G, K) factor levels, a range of reasonable levels can be determined for each outstanding (C, F, H, I, J) factor.

    The process of applying a reasonableness test iteratively will result in firm assessments for some factors and leave a range of acceptable assessments for others. The procedure then is to evaluate the position based on the upper limit of potential assessments for those factors where a range of possibilities exists. Repeat the assessment using the lower limit of potential assessments. The required job evaluation lies in the range of points thus determined. The range of points would not normally be very broad, and would give an indication of the job's rating in the framework of evaluations established for other roles in the organisation.

    To bring an expanded range of knowledge to the process, and to minimise the effect of possible unintended bias by any one evaluator - or by having only one evaluator, a well-chosen Evaluation Committee can improve the quality of an assessment.

    Eventually, a single, final job points evaluation must be arrived at: for that purpose, the Evaluation Committee makes a consensus judgement.

    Copyright (c) 2012 National Remuneration Centre