Job architecture – what is it and why do we need it?

“You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision.”

The architect of The Matrix speaking to a rogue job in his HRIS system.

Job architecture is a simple concept – It is a systematic way of organizing jobs into logical groups and hierarchies.

This is not to be confused with job matching, however. While job matching can be a component of a job architecture project, job matching is restricted to an existing survey architecture which is likely unsuited to every company. In addition, the level of organizational understanding needed for a job matching exercise is far lower than that needed for job architecture.

So why do we need job architecture? Many reasons but let’s look at three in particular:

  • Talent management programs
  • Total rewards philosophy
  • Pay equity

Talent Management

Let’s start with talent management. Job architecture means an understanding of the unique roles and therefore career paths in an organization. By understanding the levels within a given career path, talent management programs can be built, clearly defining what is expected of employees to move both vertically and laterally in the organization.

Total Rewards

Turning our attention to total rewards, a consistent global job framework allows all reward programs to be structured around consistent levels. Elements of compensation such as incentives and equity guidelines can be structured around a common set of levels ensuring that eligibility is consistent across the organization. Beyond compensation, eligibility for benefits and perquisites can also be applied consistently, fairly, and in keeping with the desired total reward philosophy.

Pay Equity

Pay equity has become an increasingly important issue for many companies. Taking the legal requirements and potential risk exposure as a given, employees are increasingly talking to one another about pay and identifying issues of pay inequity. As such, a number of high-profile companies are making pay equity a key priority with very public efforts to close pay gaps. That said, without an understanding of comparable roles, it is almost impossible to quantify the pay gaps – how can you determine if people are paid fairly if you can’t compare them to each other?

Beyond the issues mentioned above, the potential benefits are far-reaching and impact the success of downstream systems, governance, hiring, and global growth. Job architecture engagements can become vast time consuming exercises but remember the goal is a simple one. Don’t let poor architecture ruin your plans the way the machines did in the Matrix. Actually did the machines win or lose? Did anyone even watch Matrix Revolutions the whole way through?

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