Many organizations are facing the challenge of creating a more agile work environment in response to a changing external environment or to support a business transformation. In such context, one may question if job levels are still needed and how likely traditional job leveling methods will survive.

First, what is job leveling ?

Job leveling is a systematic process of determining the relative value of jobs in an organization. Jobs of similar value are clustered in the same level, resulting is something like this:

Level A

Finance Job X, Marketing Job Y, Logistic Job Z

Level B

Job W, Job V, Job U

Level C


We need job levels for

  • HR effectiveness: Job levels are the baseline for transparent and consistent career paths and development plans to all employees in an organization.
  • Fair pay: they also provide the foundation for fair rewards decisions as you may use them to underpin pay grades and external benchmarking
  • HRIS: an information system requires a structure; they will be your starting point

Where it is getting challenging

Traditional evaluation methods often rely on diplomas, seniority and reporting line; all factors being challenged in the new economy. We see new jobs created where diplomas or seniority are not the most important factors; that makes them harder to compare to the more traditional jobs and questions the evaluation method. With the rise of “self-governance” in which employees manage themselves in autonomous groups of equal importance, and each person has their own responsibilities without orders from a senior manager nor hierarchies – the reporting lines may no longer be so relevant.

Further, in case of a business transformation or reorganization, the executive board may question the value of investing in a job evaluation process when they know their organization will have changed by the end of the project.

The future

Job levels are still important because an organization needs a minimum of infrastructure to avoid chaos. Even in the context of a reorganization, as the levels will facilitate the integration of a new business or support a new organization design

The following elements are worth considering when selecting a job evaluation method:

  • Output vs. Input – focusing on the results to be delivered more than individual qualifications
  • Impact – what is the level impact of a job: on the business, a department, the job itself
  • Critical skills and competencies: identify those crucial for the company’s business now and tomorrow                                   

Also, keeping it as simple as possible and end-user friendly, with levels sufficiently broad so that a small change in job does not require a re-assessment or a change of level, will ensure the structure sustainability in today’s environment.

For further reading on the subject, here are some related articles you may find interesting:

Technologies and Shifts that Will Profoundly Change How Human Works in 2030, a report from the Institute for the Future of Work and Dell Technologies can be downloaded here: 

Tips from the Equality and Human Right Commission about the importance of job grading and equal pay: