The COVID pandemic as well as trends in new ways of working are eliminating tasks and changing the routines and responsibilities of many employees. In these challenging times, organisations are asking for an efficient and effective job evaluation methodology that can help them reduce costs and remain agile. Here is the answer.

In the words of legendary song writer Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changing.” One can only wonder what he would make of the current times. CHANGING all in upper case, I bet. The world of work looks almost unrecognisable compared to when the song was written in 1964. Even in just the first half of 2020, the changes have come thick and fast with many likely to remain post COVID-19.

It is fair to say that some of the recent changes were already starting to surface with the move to agile ways of working, increasing adoption of digital technology and business transformations. But nothing to the extent of the last few months.

Many jobs are currently being transformed. The pandemic is eliminating tasks and changing the routines of many employees. When there are no clients to serve, no trips to book, no events to organise or products to deliver, work has to be rearranged and both leaders and employees take on different responsibilities. These changes are impacting how work is being designed, delivered, rewarded, and integrated into careers. The unintended consequences of this evolution are often overlaps, changes in job size, and gaps in key accountabilities necessary to meet core business objectives, causing distractions and confusion that limit job effectiveness.

Why, what, and how of work is more critical than ever.

Work is at the core of how organisations create value. The ability to design, understand, analyse, and measure work means organisations can optimise accountability allocation, and get the right people in the right jobs. But with the world of work changing so fast, clients often ask how they can ensure that their approach to job evaluation does not stifle the requirement for agility.

The ability to design, understand, analyse, and measure work means organisations can optimise accountability allocation, and get the right people in the right jobs. Click To Tweet

While the design and the functionality of jobs have evolved over time, the basic constructs that define value, have remained relatively constant. Whether being captured in five pages of flowing prose or in a one pager of bullet points, a typical articulated description of a job will define the job purpose – why it exists and its expected outcomes – what are the complexities and challenges involved in achieving the desired outcomes, and how the job will be accomplished: the responsibilities and processes undertaken, and the skills and experience needed to competently do the job. If any one of these three core elements isn’t described, the job won’t be clear and the description will be ineffective.

While the design and the functionality of jobs have evolved over time, the basic constructs that define value, have remained relatively constant. Click To Tweet

Without understanding the why, there can be no understanding of the expected results. As a result, it’s difficult for an incumbent to know whether they’re performing to expectation or not, and even more difficult for leaders to do likewise. From a design perspective, the why is critical to understanding interdependencies, overlaps, and gaps in the overall work process across jobs.

Lack of clarity about the how – the skills required – makes acquisition of appropriate skills, experience and capability nigh on impossible.

And by not understanding the what – the relevant processes, complexities and problems the job deals with – it’s difficult to determine where things are going wrong or where opportunities lie for process improvement.

The timeless Korn Ferry Hay method of job evaluation specifically measures these three deeply interconnected dimensions:

  • Why employees are doing their work – the outcomes expected.
  • What their work involves doing – the processes undertaken, the problems and complexities they deal with.
  • How this will be accomplished – the inputs required to do a job, including the experience, skills and knowledge to be drawn on.

Designing and rewarding jobs in the new workplace

These three dimensions are still firmly in place even in fluid and agile ways of working, where work is increasingly designed around teams with people bringing their own unique sets of skills to collaborative environments. In many agile team situations, more emphasis is placed on the skills that people bring to the problems they need to solve (how) than on the outcomes that they are expected to deliver (what).

In contrast, we’re seeing the COVID-19 crisis driving a shift in the design of many jobs to focus on the outcomes expected from a job (what) as a result of remote, virtual workers having more autonomy.

This combination of changes – where jobs are more agile and virtual while being required to deal with greater complexity in a more autonomous environment – means today’s work is being delivered totally differently. Nonetheless the why, what, and how of work still requires analysis to allow for more flexibility and, of course, effective and quick reskilling to deliver in the new way.

Today’s work is being delivered differently but the why, what, and how of work still requires analysis to allow for more flexibility and effective and quick reskilling to deliver in the new way. Click To Tweet

Rewarding work in this environment can be challenging. With the added pressure of cost reduction in almost every industry, there’s a need to precisely match reward to the value of the work done. This is achieved through analysing and measuring work rather than allowing the market to determine the worth of work. The why, what and how are the elements common to all jobs that can be measured and thus valued.

Another element to consider is the need for clarity. At the start of the pandemic, and building on the increasing virtual opportunities for work driven by growing digitisation, business commentators and leaders alike were warning about the need for organisations to increase clarity. They emphasised the need for leaders to clearly let their remote workers know where they fit in now, and what can they expect of the future. It’s far easier for individuals to become alienated from the wider organisation working remotely than being side by side with fellow workers on a regular basis.

Clarity in understanding career options is also critical – how individual jobs integrate into the career ladders and lattices of the organisation. Summing the why, what and how to create an overall measure of work provides organisations with the additional benefit of being able to articulate hierarchies and career lattices as well as create fair and objective reward structures.

There’s no doubt that the nature of work activities has changed substantially since the development of the Korn Ferry Hay methodology, but the fundamentals of inputs, processes, and outputs continue to apply. Leading organisations use job evaluation as a source of competitive advantage by improving the organisation’s ability to manage its investment in human resources with greater clarity, discipline, and fairness. It’s a critical management tool, extremely useful in ensuring that flexible and agile organisations properly integrate their culture, structure, process, people, and reward.

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About Contributor

Trevor Warden is the Co-Lead APAC Rewards & Benefits and Work Measurement at Korn Ferry. Trevor helps organisations and people become more effective through finding job clarity, enabling them to be the best they can be and building a motivating environment for high performance. During his consulting career, which spans two continents and two decades, Trevor has worked with a wide variety of organisations. He brings with him enormous experience to help organisations review their structures, create doable jobs and develop wide ranging Employee Value Propositions.

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