HR transformation – five reasons why a job architecture is worthwhile

HR is in flux, evolving from an administrative function into a value driver. The top priority is meeting company requirements faster and more efficiently. A job architecture offers valuable support in this regard. Our five tips reveal why creating an architecture of this kind pays off and what you need to consider along the way.
May 26, 2022
5 min

From modern ways of working to modified organizational structures and new business models – the dynamic repositioning of companies is continuing unabated, and HR is having to work hard to keep up. This is due – at least in part – to the piecemeal way in which jobs and structures have grown, which has created a huge amount of work for all aspects of HR. The job architecture is therefore a good place to start when tackling this issue.

If designed correctly, it provides a framework for

  • Transparency throughout the company
  • Wide-ranging development opportunities
  • Greater efficiency and a faster time-to-market
  • The right balance between global standards and local leeway
  • A better employee experience

1. Transparency throughout the company thanks to uniform and simplified job structures

A consolidated job structure is the linchpin of a global job architecture. This involves grouping comparable jobs into families that are defined on a company-wide basis according to functional criteria. The common denominator? Similar requirements in terms of skills and capabilities. Very broad job families – such as procurement, IT and logistics – are split into subfamilies if necessary. In the case of IT, these could include IT security, IT infrastructure, etc.

Advantages

Depending on the size of the company, even thousands of positions described in meticulous detail can be consolidated to create only a few hundred globally defined jobs that are, in turn, assigned to just a few dozen job families. That provides transparency and clarity. For example, the use of filters gives a reliable indication of how many sales staff or data scientists are working for the business, even if they have different job titles in the individual markets or companies. Separating the job architecture from the structural organization also ensures a basis that remains stable over time.

2. Wide-ranging development opportunities thanks to career paths

Cross-organizational career paths – typically specialist, project or management careers – and globally defined job levels complement the job architecture. The job levels correlate with the impact the relevant job and role profile has on business success, so they provide a vital starting point for aspects such as compensation management and career development. As with job families, less is more when it comes to job levels. It’s better to avoid going into meticulous detail and adopt a broader approach that makes for more flexible handling. A maximum of ten job levels is sufficient for most companies.

Advantages

Staff see at a glance where they stand and how they can progress. Forging a career thus no longer necessarily means taking on management responsibilities, because specialist/project expertise is considered equivalent and supports horizontal development. As a result, anyone who is looking to further their career can now follow their personal preferences. The job architecture also shows where training is still required to obtain the necessary skills for the targeted position at a particular job level.

3. Greater efficiency thanks to digitally integrated HR processes

The individual HR functions use the global structural elements of the job architecture as a kind of navigation system to establish efficient and consistent processes. In the case of recruitment, for example, there are generic requirements profiles for each job that correspond to the relevant job family, job level and career path. The onboarding team prepares job-specific standards for induction, equipping the workstation, etc., and compensation management staff use job levels to define the detailed salary bands, which are often influenced by local factors.

Advantages

In the case of job ads, the standard requirements profile simply needs to be adapted to the specific post – by adding the need to speak particular languages, for example. Once the right person has been found for the post, the job architecture identifies the appropriate onboarding based on the job profile. This is done automatically by the HR system, and the administrative work involved – the most time-consuming aspect of HR – is significantly reduced.

4. The right balance between global standards and local leeway

The attributes (e.g. skills and abilities) stored in the HR system are defined on a broad, global and uniform basis for job families, job levels and career paths, and are passed on to the relevant job in the job architecture. In other words, the job architecture acts as a central driver of harmonized processes across companies, markets and regions. It does, however, still leave scope for specific characteristics.

Advantages

You can be specific when you have to be. This applies in particular to the job title, the exact salary and local onboarding requirements. The crucial factor is striking the right balance between local leeway and the global group standard. In terms of the HR function, it’s advisable to specify a clear framework indicating how much compliance is required and how much leeway is possible.

5. A better employee experience thanks to data-driven HR processes

The job architecture doesn’t simply lay the foundation for stable and efficient HR work, though. It also serves as a springboard toward a high-quality employee experience using data-based insights.

Advantages

The HR team can cater to individual employees. For example, the HR system identifies which learning contents are particularly relevant for which jobs and can propose tailored learning contents based on an employee’s personal learning history and ambitions. Alternatively, it can generate specific suggestions for networking with colleagues who have relevant experience. This helps motivate staff by providing positive experiences and accelerates their development.

Iterative approach for rapid results

When creating a global job architecture, it goes without saying that numerous interest groups need to be considered, including stakeholders from the individual regions and staff who are responsible for HR processes. Quite a feat, you may think, but appearances can be deceptive. Instead of seeking absolute perfection, an 80/20 mindset is recommended, along with an iterative approach that involves making specific adjustments based on feedback from practice. If you embrace this approach, the job architecture will quickly pave the way for more efficient HR work and create a high-quality employee experience. 

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