In addition to defining a set of duties and responsibilities and the typical education, skill and experience requirements for each job, it is important that organizations have a methodology for structuring jobs and assigning the attributes associated to each job.
Job attributes can include what level of job (e.g., entry or senior level), whether there are direct reports (manage people), eligibility for an incentive, exemption status (exempt or non-exempt) from FLSA, whether it is part of a career track, the job family or function, job grade, union or non-union, type of business unit or organization within the company, etc.
The typical signs that indicate that the organization could benefit from a job framework methodology include:
- Many unique job titles that are too narrowly defined
- Few unique job titles that are too broadly defined
- Duplicate job titles for the same job, e.g., Senior Engineer and Sr Engineer
- Job titles describing the employee’s preferred title Accounts Payable Manager versus actual job Account Payable Specialist (does not manage process or people)
Job frameworks like these are known as job architecture. The benefits of having job architecture are that it supports business needs, creates internal talent mobility, provides employees with opportunity for growth within and across functions, aligns the internal organization job with market benchmarks and competitive compensation data, and supports pay equity and pay transparency.
Jobs are mapped to a job level and the job family and subfamily of the position. Job families are collections of similar jobs grouped according to shared characteristics (e.g., Accounting). Job families are then further refined by the subfamily (e.g., Accounts Payable). Job categories consist of executive (E) management (M), professional (P) and support (S) jobs, while levels define differences in experience and skill (P1 entry level) or management responsibilities (M5 director).
These job attributes also are consistent with market salary surveys, which provide data by sub-family and job level, further improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the job framework. If the job sub-family and level are not clear internally, then it is difficult to collect the right market data. Compensation benchmarks can help guide organizations on whether to structure jobs as specific, e.g., Compensation Analyst or generic Human Resource Specialist.
Job titles should consistently reflect the level and function, creating a sense of equity across functions and levels, for example, consistent use of the word senior in a job title like Senior Engineer or Senior Accountant will mean the same thing across the organization. Job Titling Nomenclature describes which job titles are aligned with level and type of job. This is particularly sensitive at management levels, e.g., Vice President versus Assistant Vice President. Although the job titles are aligned by organizational level, they may not to be necessarily the same job grade or market value.
In addition to job titles and job codes, some organizations will also use a position title and position codes assigned to an employee and used for budgeting purposes.
In some cases, especially for global organizations and external job functions, business titles may be attached to the employee, also in addition to a job title. A Senior Engineer with a customer-facing role may historically been known as AVP Engineering. The organization may decide it is important to have a business title along with the internal job title.
The illustration below shows job architecture with categories, levels and titles aligned by organizational level. The job categories overlap by organizational level indicating a similar organizational value and depending on the job’s sub-family, may be similar in market value.
Incentive opportunity is easily aligned by organizational level or by the category and level. By using consistent titles, it will be clear to employees a job’s incentive opportunity, e.g., managers have a 10% bonus target.
Job codes are developed and assigned to each job title to maintain its identity. For example, if one year the title is Senior Engineer and the next year the title is shortened to Sr Engineer, it will be updated using the same job code to let us know it is still the same job, there was just a change with title.
Depending on an organization’s Human Capital Management System, many additional attributes that have direct impact on multiple areas outside of compensation, can be linked to job codes. These attributes might include job descriptions that are passed to applicant tracking systems, learning and development/training programs that all employees in the job will need to take, background and drug screening requirements, benefit and leave program eligibility, etc. Therefore, the use of job codes to automate the assignment of additional programs may impact how an organization chooses to structure them.
There are a variety of different approaches to assigning codes including (1) Numeric (2) Alpha (3) Alpha-numeric.
- Numeric codes (1002002) could include job family (100 = Accounting), sub-family (20 = Accounts Payable), job level (02 = Specialist).
- Alpha codes may consist of Letters that designate the job family (ACC = Accounting), sub-family (AP = Accounts Payable) and job title (DIR). ACCAPDIR
- Alphanumeric may include business unit (Commercial = 10, job family (ME = Mechanical Engineering), Level (P2). 10MEP2
Wilson Group partnered with Boston University to create their job architecture, including job families, sub-families, job/career levels, and job codes. Below are the links to in-depth descriptions of the job architecture.
- Explanation of the job framework: Boston University Job Framework
- Job Levels: Boston University Job Levels
- Job list: Boston University Job List
- Frequently Asked Questions: Resources – FAQs
Regardless of the organization size, having a methodology for structuring jobs can create a competitive advantage for attracting and retaining talent and enhance human resources’ ability to support the organization’s business needs. Job frameworks or job architecture define the job and all attributes connected to it. Job codes are assigned to each unique job and support the integrity of the job framework in human resource, talent management, and compensation systems and platforms.