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Why Global Job Leveling Should Matter to You

By Andrea Deeb, Towers Watson  |  February 2014

In the face of mounting global competition, shifting demographics and growing skill gaps, organizations are finding it challenging to design and deliver performance and career management programs that attract, retain and engage the right talent. Despite continued high unemployment, there is a persistent demand for critical-skill employees whose contributions are essential to an organization's long-term success. According to Towers Watson's latest "Global Talent Management and Rewards Study," almost 3 in 4 organizations report difficulties attracting critical-skill employees and more than half report difficulties retaining them.

Why do many organizations of all sizes struggle with these challenges? According to the same research, many organizations lack a well-designed, targeted employee value proposition. Not surprisingly, they also report the absence of a clearly articulated career-management philosophy.

It's no wonder then that workers around the globe express serious concern over career advancement opportunities, one of the most often cited reasons for joining, or leaving, an organization. This concern runs deep for both employees and employers. So how can organizations refocus and reinvigorate career management in order to improve the visibility of career paths and secure the talent pipeline they need to compete?

Job Leveling is More Than a Good Place to Start

High-performing companies are able to address these issues. One of their strategies is to implement a globally consistent job-leveling approach — an analytical process for determining the relative value of a job in an organization. Job leveling ensures global alignment across functions and families as well as across typical barriers, such as business units and geographies. It provides a foundation for rewards and talent management programs, including base pay, short- and long-term incentives, career management, succession planning, and learning and development. The delivery of these programs, built on the job-leveling foundation, provides a compelling opportunity to communicate career paths, facilitate talent mobility and deliver competitive rewards.

Proven approaches to job leveling include the Global Grading System (GGS) and Career Map. GGS uses data about an organization's size, complexity and geographic breadth to evaluate the number of levels required to build a global grading structure. Jobs are then evaluated as part of a two-step banding and grading process. Bands or roles place jobs in the structure based on how they contribute to an organization and reflect a dual career path — individual contributor and management. Grading involves assessing jobs against standard factors like functional knowledge, business expertise, leadership, problem solving, area/nature of impact and interpersonal skills. Using GGS, organizations can assess jobs against up to 25 grades, which are applied consistently for organizations around the world. (See Figure 1.) The GGS technology facilitates the banding and grading process, and produces the calculated evaluation.

Figure 1:
GGS Grade Map Sample

Source: Towers Watson 2013

The Career Map methodology offers organizations a baseline framework with a series of career bands and levels that increase in complexity and responsibility. The methodology maps jobs into a set of 6 established career bands and corresponding career levels, based on a holistic view of how each job is expected to contribute. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2:
Career Map Sample

Source: Towers Watson 2013

The Career Map framework cuts across business units, geographies and functions around the world to create common language that clarifies a natural progression in jobs. Companies can customize career bands, criteria, levels and language in the baseline framework to reflect organizational priorities and culture. Functional competencies can also be aligned to each level of the framework to specify the behavioral requirements for employees in each job.

In Practice: Providing Clarity Amid Complexity

Following a merger, a multimillion-dollar company needed to evaluate jobs across its legacy organizations. GGS provided the mechanisms to quickly and consistently evaluate hundreds of jobs and involve stakeholders across the globe in the process. In the end, the organization's global grades and jobs were aligned with common career bands and levels, providing clarity to managers and employees regarding career paths.

In another case, a multibillion-dollar global information company needed to develop a common framework for managing its global sales talent. Using Career Map, this organization customized the predefined framework and scaled competencies across its tailored bands and levels, which facilitated the mapping of all sales roles across the organization. As a result, this company realized an improved visibility of its sales jobs, the number of employees in each job, and the associated performance expectations and career paths.

While both GGS and Career Map are effective job-leveling methodologies, the power is in integrating these approaches to build on the rigorous GGS evaluation process and align it to the transparent Career Map framework and language. This combination helps ensure that a company realizes the full value of its rewards and talent program investments.

Improved Business Outcomes Make It Worth the Effort

Job leveling facilitates the development of a unified global framework for performance and career management. Towers Watson's research shows that organizations that implement globally consistent job leveling are 2½ times more likely to report more effective talent and rewards programs. In turn, those programs contribute to higher levels of employee engagement and better business performance.

About the Author

Andrea Deeb is an Atlanta-based director in the talent & rewards consulting group at Towers Watson.


Read the February edition of Compensation Focus.

Contents © 2014 WorldatWork. No part of this article may be reproduced, excerpted or redistributed in any form without express written permission from WorldatWork.

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