Did you know that the key to unlocking the challenge of successfully selecting and advancing graduates in your organisation already resides within your HR department?

Many business leaders continue to grapple with the challenges of how to keep ambitious graduates engaged and how to provide the rapid career progression and personal development many of them desire. Failing to meet these challenges has real business impact as unfulfilled young employees seek opportunities elsewhere and frustrated leaders question their ability to connect with the demands of the Generation Y graduate. Research by Graduate Careers Australia found that 11% of graduate recruits quit within a year, while 43% leave within five years1.

Digging beneath the surface raises a question that many of our clients are struggling to answer. How do they apply what seem to be traditional and possibly outdated approaches to development and career advancement to a new group of employees? These employees often have different values and expectations of their employer to those that we are used to.

We believe that the answer lies in understanding what makes your graduates tick – things such as doing real work, personal development, advancement and opportunity – and then using tools which are already at your disposal to match their career goals with opportunities within the organisation. Work measurement (also known as job evaluation) is one of those tools.  While its application in this area is often overlooked, it is invaluable when leaders are confronted with this issue.

Work measurement – the hidden resource

Work measurement allows you to assess your jobs and the unique role that they play in your organisation by looking at the factors that capture what and how a role contributes to the business. By comparing the factors scored for each role across the business, you get a good idea of not only whether the content of each role is doable, but also the realities of assumed vs. actual career paths.

More specifically, application of the work measurement framework helps organisations to get their graduates into the right roles and develop clear advancement pathways for them. For the graduate, work measurement breaks the job down into meaningful components – know how (skills and experience), problem solving (ability to meet challenges) and accountability (impact on the organisation) – which helps them understand the requirements of their role and the areas in which they need to develop in order to advance. For both the employer and the graduate, a good work measurement framework will also identify career paths that may not have been obvious at first glance.

Helping graduates develop their path

Our experience has been that clients with a well-developed work measurement system are more easily able to explain to graduates:

  • the requirements of a particular role – what do they need to succeed in the role?
  • how the role they are in is helping them prepare for their next role – what can they develop now that will help them in their future role?
  • the relativity between seemingly disparate roles – what other roles are available that require similar skills and competencies?
  • a clear path to a leadership or next step role in the organisation – what goals and development plans can be put in place?

For leaders within the organisation, work measurement assists them in engaging and motivating graduates and provides a framework on which to base performance development conversations as well as guiding the graduate in developing behaviours that will make them stand out as a future leader.

While the work measurement framework has been used by HR professionals for many years for remuneration strategy and benchmarking, this trusted methodology is proving its worth by revealing a far wider application. If work measurement can help to increase capability and engagement in Generation Y and beyond, then good things will follow for both organisations and their employees. The good news is that you already have the key elements of this framework in place. It is just a matter of learning how to apply it.

1Source: Graduate Outlook 2014 by Graduate Careers Australia

This is the first in a series of articles highlighting the many applications of work measurement.

For the majority of our clients, work measurement and reward go hand in hand. In fact for some organisations, it has only ever been used for this purpose – assigning a level of pay to a role. The reality is that work measurement is far more powerful: it provides our clients with a great foundation for talent management, career-pathing, succession planning, and organisation design, and helps to answer questions around the fit between the role and the individual.

We hope these articles broaden your view of the role that work measurement can play in your organisation. With just a small amount of effort, a framework that you might already have in place can deliver greater value and insights than you ever imagined.

Work measurement explained: Watch 'A question of job evaluation'

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About the contributor

Matt Chaplin is a Senior Client Director for Korn Ferry Advisory, Australia. He helps organisations attract, select, develop and retain the right talent to deliver on their strategy. He is an expert in designing and implementing talent assessment programs.

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