Job Leveling

Leveling is a type of job evaluation that focuses on defining organization levels and fitting jobs into those levels. The levels may be determined by one factor, such as decision-making. It can act as a foundation for pay systems, but it also contributes to organizational study, provides career mapping guidance and the development and description of international structure structures, and serves as a connection to an information technology system like PeopleSoft or SAP.

The concept of leveling

Elliott Jaques (1956) first came up with the idea of levels of work, which he measured by investigating responsibility. He found that: “It seemed as if there was a standard range of speeds people expected for different workloads, and this pattern becomes apparent when the level of work is stated in terms of how long it would take to complete”.

In other words, the time frame of discretion was his concept for how long a judge may remain silent before being compelled to render an opinion. “The maximum period that would elapse under the particular conditions of review, during which the member was authorized and expected to exercise discretion on his own account to discharge the responsibilities allocated to him,” according to Sir Edward Coke, is termed “discretionary authority.”

He suggested that job performance should be determined by the amount of time spent working. Though this had some benefits, such as making it easier to measure responsibility, it wasn’t adopted by many because it’s difficult to measure, especially for high-level positions.

Paterson (1974) refined alternative criteria for defining levels of work, known as the decision-band method (DBM). Paterson discovered that there are six levels or bands of decision-making in businesses. They range from basic defined decisions that ‘take place within the confines of a specified operation' to policy-making judgments that ‘determine the scope, direction, and goal of the entire business.' These definitions served as the basis for assigning tasks to levels. The DBM approach was widely adopted in Africa but did not take root in the United Kingdom.

Unilever took a later approach that recognized the impact of Jaques but not Paterson by employing a broader definition. The idea of broad-banding was eliminated in favor of a ‘work level' structure, as described by Dive (2004). The DMA was the name given to the process.

There are eight work levels, which each focus on seven elements: expected work, resources, problem-solving, change, lateral teams, environment, and task horizon. As Dive explained to us before DMA “concentrates on the added value of decisions taken”. The main point being is that job holders need to take decisions that cannot be done at a lower level or above them. He emphasized how using DMA is a way of developing an organization as a whole- not just grading jobs by methodologies.

Applications of leveling

Job evaluation is difficult, time-consuming, and often downplayed by employees. However, it is crucial to organize a business flowchart and determine available positions for future career growth within the company. Creating an organizational structure can be used to define pay structures (‘leveling’), express how a business should be logically organized, and establish specific steps in someone’s professional development path.

Leveling uses analytical matching, job classification, or point-factor rating to compare jobs. The goal is to determine the number of levels required for an organization’s rank structure. This decision could be based on a ranking exercise that uses point-factor scheme scores or whole-job ranking. Leveling may also be used after studying the organization’s structure and completing a role profiling exercise.

The level of a job may be defined by its evaluation factors, or how it compares to other jobs. In some cases, there is only one descriptor used. When the focus is on mapping out a career path as well as determining pay, the level definitions or profiles may be written in ways that establish the different rungs on a career ladder, often grouped together based upon similarity of work (ie all jobs within a family will have similar duties performed at varying levels).

The definition helps to define what people are expected to know and be able to do at various levels of experience (technical competencies) as well as referring to behavioral competencies. The goal is a clear level distinction that will help decide which roles belong to each level, making it simpler to progress in careers between different groups.