Job architecture

Laying the building blocks for effective human capital workforce management

At the core of human capital strategy you'll often find job architecture; it affects key talent programs such as recruiting, learning and development, and performance management—and not always in a good way. When job architecture is outdated, workforce management can become more about reacting than planning. People practices may no longer meet changing business needs for workforce flexibility or mobility, or help people understand their development opportunities and career advancement.

A job worth doing right

Effective job architecture serves as both an underlying framework and a guide that can reflect future talent needs, motivate behaviors that support the organization’s business strategies, and communicate a consistent language of work.

Sometimes called job structure, job catalogue, or leveling, job architecture refers to the infrastructure or hierarchy of jobs within an organization. Changes in the organization, such as new HR technology systems, shifts in business strategy, or revisions to compensation programs, are common triggers of job architecture projects.

Organizations sometimes hesitate to update job architecture—it can be a daunting task to think about analyzing and bringing consistency to hundreds or thousands of jobs across the organization. But there are ways to approach, scale, and implement the effort to lessen pain and realize gain.

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Cornerstone first

Effective job architecture should provide:

  1. A sound, easy-to-use system for determining the value of jobs based on talent drivers, business needs, and market practices.
  2. A consistent methodology and decision support for assigning job levels and titles that are based on enterprise-wide criteria, which eliminates guesswork and promotes trust and confidence in the organization’s job assignments and rewards practices.
  3. Workforce planning and career paths that are logical, transparent, fiscally responsible, and support employees and strategic business needs.

Cracks in the foundation?

Job architecture is not a new tool, but rather the evolved, 21 century progression of job classification. Rather than simply analyzing and classifying jobs, job architecture places further importance on a consistent approach to identifying job levels, career paths, mobility criteria, and pay values. When an organization's job architecture is outdated or misaligned, workforce management becomes more about reacting than planning, and people practices can no longer leverage individuals' skills and abilities or meet changing business needs.

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