Dear Workforce How Could We Use Job Descriptions to Make More Sensible Job Evaluations


Sep. 14, 2006

Dear Need Pointers:

Of the commonly used methods of job evaluation, the point system is the most popular. When using a point system, each job is compared with a list of predetermined job characteristics or factors and assigned point values for each factor. The job with the most points, theoretically, would be considered the most demanding or important and would, therefore, command the highest pay. Typically, the list of factors will range from five to 20 factors, including:

  • Skill
  • Effort
  • Responsibility
  • Interaction with others
  • Working conditions
  • Level of decision-making
  • Supervisory responsibilities
  • Impact of duties

Once the list of job factors is defined, you can refine the process by “weighting” the factors. Doing so helps to assign the right value of each factor to the overall value of the job. Thischart below illustrates a typical point-factor system.

When evaluating jobs using a point system, you generally begin with a job questionnaire covering all the factors. The questionnaire is completed by the person in the job, and then reviewed by the employee’s supervisor, who verifies response accuracy. Once approved, the job questionnaire forms the basis of the job description, which outlines the role and responsibilities, authority level and accountabilities of the position. The job description is designed to provide guidance to the person doing the job, as well as to future hires. It is also the key ingredient in assigning pay levels to the job on the basis of the point system. Once job descriptions are written and point scores established for each job, it is relatively easy to group similarly rated jobs into pay grades and then assign monetary values.

Here are some tips for writing job descriptions that can simplify the job evaluation process:

  1. Use a consistent framework for the job questionnaire, devoting a separate section to each of the job factors. Encourage the employee to provide enough detail in the questionnaire so you can knowledgeably assign the right number of points to each factor.
  2. Consider assigning a cross-departmental committee to do the job evaluations. Ask your human resources department to coordinate the committee.
  3. Just before performance reviews are scheduled, send out a current job description to the employee who is scheduled for review. Get the employee’s input on any job changes so the manager and employee can discuss this input during the performance appraisal. If the job has changed significantly, the manager should notify human resources that the job should be re-evaluated.

Remember, a slight change in job duties usually does not affect the pay grade or monetary value of a job. However, employees like to know that their input is considered, so use the performance evaluation as a time to discuss the job itself, as well as both changes in the job and the employee’s performance.

SOURCE: Patsy Svare, managing director, the Chatfield Group,, Glenview, Illinois, December 16, 2005.

LEARN MORE: The Five-alarm Job recounts what constitutes a hot job, and gives tips for companies looking to curb turnover, boost productivity and bolster the bottom line. Also, an earlier Dear Workforce discusses how to change from one job evaluation system to another.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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