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“Job levelling” is a simple term that Reward professionals have often spent days (if not weeks or months!) agonising over.

A levelling structure is the foundation of strategic HR management, but we are often surprised how many companies have gone through the arduous process of building one but have yet to unlock its full potential.  

Have you ever thought about how much more you could accomplish with that structure you spent months getting right? 

  • How it could help you understand what different employee levels think of your reward?
  • How being more transparent about it could support employee engagement and career path visibility? 
  • How you could better link your competencies and job requirements?

This month, we look at three case studies of how organisations have taken their job levelling to the next level and, in doing so, helped answer some key employee questions.

Icon of a group of people How is my reward tailored to my needs?

It’s no secret that implementing a job levelling framework allows HR to have an overview of the ‘shape’ of the organisation and run different analyses as a result. For example, the continually increasing scrutiny on fair pay has led many organisations to use their frameworks to identify and investigate potential equal pay risks.

One UK based law firm took this a step further by considering how reward preferences may differ depending on employee level.

Previously, they had only made pension matching available to employees at a certain level and above, on the assumption that more junior employees are less concerned about saving for retirement. After conducting a survey to understand reward preferences, they analysed the results by level, and were shocked by the results – contrary to their assumption, junior employees were just as concerned, if not more concerned, by their pension saving.

This analysis allowed them to make informed choices about reward programme eligibility by level – listening to what employees really valued, instead of relying solely on guesswork.

Icon of location pinWhere do I sit in the company and why?

A European online advertising firm faced issues of talent retention – employees were leaving because they reported that they didn’t know where they stood in the organisation or where they could progress to.

Although the organisation had a globally consistent levelling framework – no one knew about it!  They went on to devise a communications plan to socialise the framework within the business in a phased way:

  • First, interactive training was provided to HR Business Partners to enable them to communicate the career management benefits of the framework to the business.
  • Second, managers were engaged, allowing them time to familiarise themselves with the framework and its implications, so they could better support direct reports.
  • Third, employees were informed in phases, restricting the amount of new information given at one time. Initially they were given an overview of the framework, Job Family Groups, Job Families and their definitions. Next, they were told what job they were mapped to and their level within the framework.  Finally, they were given access to an online tool which helped them to navigate their next steps.

To maximise employee engagement, everything was branded in a light-hearted way, with graphics, cartoons, and even a ‘career framework mascot’!

Icon of person jugglingWhat skills do I need to progress?

When a financial services organisation received negative feedback in their employee engagement survey about career opportunities and progression, they decided to develop a job levelling framework with job families, groups and roles…but they didn’t stop there. After mapping all employees to the most appropriate roles they created scaled competencies for each role to help maximise the value of the framework. 

Employees can now look at a detailed explanation of what is expected of them in their current role, and what might be expected of them at the level above, as well as the competencies required for jobs across the organisation.

They then went on to build an interactive website to help employees engage with the framework, illustrating possible career paths and the necessary competencies required to progress.

Willis Towers Watson’s view

Although you may have a levelling structure in place to manage jobs, salary progression and benefit eligibility, it is worth thinking about what else you could use the framework for. 

It can help you respond to what your employees are asking for and make it clear to them how they contribute to the company and how they can progress. The correct level of transparency and communication will vary by company but consider how you can best use it to support your employee needs.

Don’t let your levelling structure sit there and stagnate – use it to answer key questions from your employees.  Take it to the next level.