Challenge: Piedmont Healthcare, a Georgia-based health system, with 11,000 employees, faced a problem common to many organizations that have grown through acquisition: inconsistent job titles and levels. For instance, a given job didn't always have the same title across different entities and often titles for similar jobs differed even within the same entity. Piedmont quickly realized that it needed a job architecture — an organizing construct for aligning jobs within an organization based on the types of work performed.

Piedmont also recognized that the development of an effective job architecture might offer opportunities to address issues in related areas. For instance, the current approach to organizing jobs resulted in an unclear job-grading system that confused hiring managers and led to instances of inconsistent pay practices. Finally, this situation made it challenging for employees to manage and identify appropriate career paths.

Approach: Piedmont partnered with Towers Watson to develop a unifying framework for its jobs.

Figure 1: Towers Watson's reward and career framework

Figure 1: Towers Watson's reward and career framework

First, the team created a job architecture. This involved 1) defining job groupings (i.e., job functions), which represent a major area of expertise (e.g., human resources), and job disciplines, which define a specialized area of expertise within a function (e.g., compensation), and 2) mapping jobs into career bands or ladders. Next, the team determined job levels by assessing the relative contribution of a role within a career band/ladder. The job architecture and job leveling formed the basis for a systemwide career framework.

Results: With the right approach and tools, Piedmont was able to develop a career framework that provided many benefits to the organization.

Figure 2: The benefits of Piedmont's Career Pathways framework

Figure 2: The benefits of Piedmont's Career Pathways framework
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  • By clearly mapping potential career paths and clarifying roles and responsibilities, the framework empowered employees to take charge of their career development.
  • By organizing work opportunities into meaningful steps and providing for both upward progression and lateral movement, the career framework enabled managers to more effectively determine career development and talent management planning for their teams.
  • By making it easier to see where jobs fit within the organization, the framework has allowed HR to more efficiently and seamlessly integrate acquisition-related jobs.

Piedmont reduced the number of job codes by roughly half and is still working on harmonizing all job titles. In addition, it has linked the framework to a range of other talent and reward applications, including incentive pay and paid time off.