The Keys to Building an Effective Job Architecture
Workspan Daily
May 17, 2023
Key Takeaways

  • What is an organizational job architecture? Job architecture refers to the infrastructure or hierarchy of jobs within an organization. It’s also called job structure, job catalog or leveling. 
  • Critical to achieving pay equity. Organizations without an effective job architecture often lag behind competitors when it comes to closing the gender pay gap.  
  • After team analysis, build in tools. Create or select the tools the team will use as leveling guides, as well as the creation of a job-title glossary for consistency in job-titling. Once those are in place, the team then assigns the correct function, family and leveling guide to each of its current job titles. 
  • Never stop building. Creating a job architecture isn’t just a one-time activity, however. It must be able to evolve to adapt to changes to internal business strategy and the external talent marketplace.  

As workers demand greater pay equity and transparency from their employers, experts say that creating a job architecture can help achieve both goals. 

Also called job structure, job catalog or leveling, job architecture refers to the infrastructure or hierarchy of jobs within an organization. It encompasses job levels, job titling conventions, grades, career paths, spans of control, the criteria for career movement and equitable compensation programs based on job value. 

The most effective job architectures can provide three main benefits to organizations: 

A sound, easy-to-use system for determining the value of jobs based on talent drivers, business needs and market practices. 

A consistent methodology and decision support for assigning job levels and titles that are based on enterprise-wide criteria, which eliminates guesswork and promotes trust and confidence in the organization’s job assignments and rewards practices. 

Workforce planning and career paths that are logical, transparent, fiscally responsible, and support employees and strategic business needs. 

Approximately 72% of respondents to a recent Deloitte survey indicated their organization uses job leveling guides or a similar tool to define the criteria and requirements for assignment to each level. (Deloitte’s “2023 Global Job Architecture Practices Survey” is underway and participants receive a free copy of the results).  

Building a Foundation 

Organizations without an effective job architecture often lag behind competitors when it comes to closing the gender pay gap, said Justin Sun, a compensation expert at Expedia. 

“It’s difficult to assess whether you're paying men and women equal pay for equal work if you're not clear on the differences in the scope and complexity of their roles,” he said. 

So how should you begin building out your organization’s job architecture? 

It all starts with assembling the right team because job architecture projects require participation and support from multiple levels and functions across an organization, including senior executives, HR and job subject matter experts.  

A knowledgeable working group will help ensure that the wide-ranging implications of job architecture are fully considered and will aid in the subsequent adoption of program changes. 

Without a systematic analysis of job architecture, organizations run the risk of building their people-based financial systems, such as compensation structures and variable pay programs, on a faulty foundation, said Sheila Sever, a senior manager and U.S. job architecture leader at Deloitte.  

After assembling a team, next comes a “current-state” assessment of all the available internal information on employees and titles, as well as the creation of a clear governance framework that will help define the scope of the project and key responsibilities at each stage of the project. 

“You need governance for keeping your job catalog clean once you get it established,” said Sever. 

Building Tools 

The next step is to create or select the tools the team will use such as leveling guides, as well as the creation of a job-title glossary for consistency in the way the organization titles its jobs. 

Once those are in place, the team then assigns the correct function, family, leveling guide and level to each of its current job titles.  

If the team finds an overlap of about 80% among different attributes of a particular set of job titles, then an opportunity for job consolidation exists. 

“At this point, we often see a reduction of job titles around 50% regardless of the size of the organization,” said Greg Stoskopf, Deloitte managing director and national practice leader for compensation strategies. 

After the team gets the number of necessary job titles down to a manageable size, it can then begin to benchmark those titles to current compensation surveys.   

“You then have an opportunity to look at your salary structures and determine the right alignment to the market,” Stoskopf said. “What is your strategy going to be? Are you going to have some critical workforce jobs where you pay more?” 

A final step in the process is also its most critical: communication. 

“Go out and talk to your leaders about how workers fit into new titles and look at the amount of change impact that’s likely to happen,” said Stoskopf, adding that this is the point where change management takes over, “so make sure a communication plan is made and executed.” 

Never Stop Building 

Any successful job-architecture project should increase pay equity and overall transparency within the organization, which can also help with retention and morale issues, said Justin Hampton, CEO and founder of CompTool.  

“If you have career paths that look realistic, people can really start working toward that and it improves morale and engagement because people know what they are working toward,” he said.  

Once the architecture is built out and communicated throughout the organization, companies can begin to measure success. The chief ways to do this are through monitoring internal talent movement and asking employees in pulse surveys whether they understand the criteria and resources needed to grow their career. 

But a successful job-architecture project is one that is never finished, Expedia’s Sun cautioned. 

“Evaluating your job architecture also isn’t a one-time activity,” he said. “You should be able to evolve your career framework, as needed, to meet changes to internal business strategy and the external talent marketplace.  

“For example, new roles in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity may not have been needed as part of your career architecture five years ago, but they may be necessary for your company’s success in the next five years.” 

Editor’s Note: Additional Content 

For more information and resources related to this article see the pages below, which offer quick access to all WorldatWork content on these topics: 

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