Mike Taylor    Human Resources Management

Job Evaluation

Job evaluation is the methods and practices of ordering jobs or positions with respect to their value or worth to the organization.

Why introduce job evaluation?

  • It can be beneficial when the existing grading structure is in need of review
  • It can help establish or maintain the credibility and acceptability of a grading system
  • Job evaluation facilitates the accommodation of new or revised jobs into the grading structure
  • It can be used by organisations as a basis for job matching and external pay comparisons

In the past job evaluation has tended to be used more often for white collar, rather than manual employees. However, there has been a steady increase in the use of job evaluation for all types of jobs in the UK. The concern for unit labour costs makes it vitally important for organisations, operating in highly competitive markets, to ensure that the grading level of their employees accurately reflects the relative importance of their jobs to the organisation.

Properly introduced and maintained, job evaluation can help lay the foundation of fair and orderly pay structures and thus improve relationships. Job evaluation may therefore be appropriate in the circumstances.

Anomalies in the pay system/need for a pay structure

Job evaluation can help remove any anomalies or inequities in an organisation's payment system where the existing grading structure is thought to place jobs in an arbitrary order with no justifiable or logical reason. Job evaluation would help remedy this by providing a more structured basis for deciding grading levels. However, job evaluation should not be introduced if the main reason is unrelated to the basic grading structure, for example because a bonus and incentive scheme has fallen into disrepute.

Changes in the job content

Work restructuring within organisations may result in companies having fewer manual employees often with a greater range of duties. In addition, new 'high tech' machinery may have altered traditional roles and blurred the differences between 'operating' and 'craft' skills. All this may have the following effects on existing grading systems:

  • They may not be able to cope with the introduction of new jobs or new skills, with a likely increase in the number of grievances about grading
  • They may not be able to cope with any 'grade drift', with lower grades having less to do, while other jobs may have drifted upwards, and
  • There may be leap-frogging to catch up with pay rates elsewhere in the company, or outside.

Grading grievances

Frequent grievances or disputes over grading or pay may indicate that the existing grading structure is no longer appropriate. If unresolved, such dissatisfaction could result in consequential pay claims, the gradual erosion of differentials between grades, increased costs and deteriorating morale and industrial relations. A job evaluation scheme properly designed and installed with an appeals procedure, can help maintain the credibility and acceptability of a grading structure.

Technological and organisational change

It is important to ensure that the grading system is appropriate to the needs of an organisation particularly following technological and organisational change. Changes arising from new technology may affect jobs in the following ways:

  • Employees may no longer have control over the quality and quantity of their output where the machine dictates the pace
  • Mental effort may replace physical effort as an important factor for improving output working conditions may change to reflect the new technological process
  • Employees may be required to do a number of activities previously carried out by others, and innovative and creative skills may be required which hitherto were not within the culture of the organisation.

The introduction of flexibility, multi-skilling, team working and new operational methods also have important consequences for job design and the way jobs are organised, and will clearly affect traditional work groupings and pay structures. A further, important advantage of some job evaluation schemes is that new jobs can be more easily fitted into the existing structure.


The Equal Pay Act and the Equal Pay (Amendment) Regulations make it especially important to maintain a fair and orderly grading structure. Job evaluation may be helpful as a means of ensuring that a grading structure is fair and equitable.

Other benefits

Some job evaluation techniques require the analysis and description of jobs leading to a more detailed and accurate knowledge of their content. This in turn may prompt:

  • An opportunity to review roles and policies on selection and training
  • Improved Human Resource Management through a greater understanding of the skills and training needed for particular jobs, and
  • A review of the organisation's structure and working methods, better designed jobs and the identification of poor working conditions and job hazards.

Furthermore when employer, employees and their representatives have been jointly involved in a job evaluation exercise, this usually leads to improved understanding, greater trust and better industrial relations.


Job evaluation committee

Organisations should be aware that the success of a job evaluation exercise is dependent primarily on the level of commitment of management and the appropriate trade union or employee representatives. It is important to establish a job evaluation committee, agree its terms of reference and to decide whether the scheme will be analytical or non analytical.

The composition of the joint job evaluation committee should take full account of the interests of all groups of employees including women and ethnic minorities, covered by the evaluation project. It would be impractical to have every occupational interest directly represented but it is important that members of the job evaluation committee possess as much knowledge as possible of the range of jobs involved. It is, however, counter-productive if the job evaluation committee is so large as to be unwieldy. Nor is it necessary for management and employees to be represented in equal numbers since the joint committee is not a negotiating body but rather a problem solving team. In this context Acas experience is that it is best to reach decisions not by majority voting but through consensus. The optimum number on the committee is normally six to eight people plus the chair-holder.

A record should be kept of the decisions of the job evaluation committee and any other appropriate information. This will be needed when the manual to implement the scheme is produced.

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There are a number of different job evaluation techniques, each with advantages and disadvantages but there are only two types of scheme, analytical and non analytical. The most common job evaluation techniques, within these headings are listed below.

Non analytical

Job ranking

This is a technique using job descriptions or job titles. Each job is considered as a whole and placed in a 'felt fair' rank order to produce a league table. It is considered the simplest method since there is no attempt to break down or analyse the whole job in any way. It is therefore easy to understand ...

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