A Complete Guide to the Job Leveling Matrix (+ Inspirational Examples)
Almost 33% of people are confused about what they need to do to succeed in their careers.
Employees are mostly concerned about:
- What they need to do to get promoted.
- The hierarchy in the organization.
- The skills they need to acquire.
- And the responsibilities of each role and position.
But how can your company ensure that every employee knows their place, their path, and their potential?
That's the power of a well-crafted job leveling matrix. And we're here to guide you every step of the way. Tips, tricks, inspirational examples – we've got it all.
📶 What is a job leveling matrix?
A job leveling matrix is a comprehensive system that includes the processes for career projection, training, corresponding remuneration, and planning.
It is also called a job classification, and it is a system that HR professionals use for defining roles, setting hierarchies across the entire company, and career pathways within an organization.
It goes further than a job description as it also includes detailed requirements that an employee needs to fulfill before getting a promotion.
A job leveling matrix combines competencies, ownership structures, and job levels.
- You will typically do this visually with the job levels as columns and competencies as rows.
- The intersect cells will describe what someone in the role needs to do to fulfill the competency.
Example of job leveling
In an organization, job leveling might take the form of something like this:
- Level 1: Associate
- Level 2: Senior Associate
- Level 3: Analyst
- Level 4: Partner
- Level 5: Director
Example of a job leveling matrix
Here’s what a job leveling template for an engineering team looks like:
The above example uses only one competency, ownership.
Other competencies you might consider are technical ability, analytical thinking, communication, etc., each with its requirements.
You can always add competencies according to your organization and competency profiles for each role.
Visualizing these job tracks gives employees an improved understanding of the next step in their career journey and the new responsibilities they will have to shoulder with that promotion.
❓ Why is job leveling important?
Job leveling is an essential part of talent management and incentive planning.
With job leveling, employees clearly understand all the deliverables in a particular role, what the organization expects from them, and how they fit into the workforce.
Here are some of the other benefits of having a job leveling guide.
- It helps create and foster an environment that encourages the success of all your staff.
- Aligns each position with the company's business needs, culture, and strategy.
- It gives you a starting point to foster the development of people and teams.
- It helps with information dissemination and transparency.
- It lets you link job expectations to your people's strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities. You can use this to create paths for achieving certain goals.
- It is easier to develop better compensation structures to make it fair all around the organization.
- Recruitment is easier when laid down positions with a clear description and level.
- It enables you to better plan your organization for employee input, market comparisons, and recruiting managers.
🧐 A few considerations to keep in mind
Even though a job leveling guide helps you plan career progression, it is often not completely linear, and there are many areas that you may not be able to cover.
For example, if you're using four competencies for measurement, an employee on "level 1" may be doing more concerning one or two specific competencies (for ownership and technical ability).
This might mean that they have made 50% progress towards their next promotion.
This disparity may complicate matters in some scenarios for promotion, but it is usually a good metric to have for having conversations around development.
🛠️ How does job leveling work in practice?
Employees desire to gain new skills and experience to help them achieve their long-term career goals.
Even though many think it is just like climbing a ladder – one step at a time until they reach the top, that is usually not the case, and the direction isn't always linear.
People will often change their path whenever they identify another opportunity elsewhere, searching for a better position or salary. This will drive up recruitment costs for an organization and strain HR and talent management.
In organizations that want to implement effective job leveling methods, an essential part is determining their job measurement methods.
Job measurement methods
Many organizations usually accomplish job leveling using any of the following methods.
Factor Comparison: In this process, you break down jobs into their constituent elements and rank them against one another in each aspect. This is the opposite of looking at jobs and organizing holistically for arrangement. Finally, you would combine all the results from factor comparison into an overall rank.
External Market Price: You will match the jobs in your organization to similar jobs in the relevant market and industries. Using this process, you will assign points as dollar values for their constellations of attributes – you can decide to leave the values as is or group them.
You will then establish market rates to benchmark jobs through matching, and you place non-benchmarked jobs back into the structure based on any similarities they may have to benchmarked jobs.
Slotting: You define the requisite characteristics of jobs for each band or grade within a salary structure. After that, you sort the jobs into appropriate levels according to each job's significant responsibilities and accountabilities.
Point Factor Rating System: You assign each element of the job a value based on how much of that element you estimate the job should have. The total points gotten will determine the overall size of the job. You can then categorize these jobs based on the points or a range.
Whole Job Ranking: In this process, most of the operations are internal as you compare all the jobs in your organization internally. You then put all these jobs against each other based on aggregators of each of their job properties.
📝 How to create a job leveling framework
You should know that job leveling works differently for companies depending on their sizes and growth stages. And your career progression plan should consider all these factors.
There are fewer job levels and hierarchies in smaller startups, so employees will typically have to handle different responsibilities and roles. On the other hand, larger companies may have different levels with clear lines between responsibilities.
Determine your goal
One way to determine your goal is to identify your employee's career progression problems and set goals to fix them.
Some of the issues you might have to address include:
- Overlapping and misalignment of competencies.
- Unclear factors for promotions and performance reviews.
- Organizations holding employees responsible for occurrences that are out of their control.
- Incomplete description of responsibilities.
- Improper documentation of core competencies.
Holding someone accountable for the entire development has the following advantages:
- It makes a far more effective resolution of any blockers in development
- This shows that the organization is committed to the career growth of employees
- It puts a face to the process, making it easier for other employees to chime in
- It makes the team responsible put in more sincere efforts
Select someone or a team with previous experience and relevant skills and knowledge for development.
Ask stakeholders and domain experts for their input
Creating a job leveling framework that doesn't align with your management's opinions is pointless and would not yield positive results. This is why you should talk to all the employees and management concerned about their concerns and thoughts about the job level matrix.
It would help if you also tried not to focus on only one set of people.
Collect information across job levels and different units in the organization.
Apart from building a job matrix relevant to your organization, it also builds trust.
Determine the job leveling structure
Your job leveling framework will act as a guide for professional development in your organization.
The job leveling positions should cover all employees across your organizational structure, from interns to the management level, so everyone knows all the growth opportunities available.
Your structure should cover the following areas:
- Clearly define the key competencies (core and functional/technical) for each job family and job role.
- Clearly define each job's duties and desired outcomes (e.g. performance metrics).
- Define leadership competencies for your management roles.
- Explain the links between different roles (organizational structuring).
- Define the pay grade and promotion criteria clearly at each level.
- List all the roles or opportunities employees could explore in the future.
Note: Your company's size will influence your leveling structure. The larger the company, the more diverse should your levels be.
For example, a smaller company might get away with aleveling structure with 3 levels junior-intermediate-senior. However, a larger team might also need sub levels.
One of our customers uses the following job matrix with 5 job levels and 15 sub-levels:
- (0)Junior (job level) A, B, or C (sub- levels)
- (1) Advanced A, B, or C
- (2)Specialist A, B, or C
- (3) Expert A, B, or C
- (4)Senior Expert A, B, or C
Lay down terms for lateral career movement
Not everyone wants to move into managerial roles and would rather stay in technical roles if your job matrix doesn't give them that opportunity.
Employees will value organizations that provide them with the flexibility to keep working as individual contributors.
This will ensure that you assign people according to their strengths and areas they can perform most optimally.
Choose a framework structure that gives people flexibility after reaching a career milestone. It makes it easier for people to move across verticals if there is a skill overlap.
Set criteria for promotion
Make sure your employees have a strong understanding of the behaviors expected at each level. They can use this information to take on additional responsibilities and deliver better performance or capability. Of course, these competencies, metrics, and KPIs will vary across roles and levels.
Create your job levels such that each step has its unique career milestones and performance targets an employee must meet before progressing to the next level. It is not until said employee performs 100% of the new role that you consider them. At 50%, the promotion conversation should start.
🏢 Job leveling matrix examples
Wise Transfer is a company that specializes in online money transfers, taking advantage of the minimal charges overseas.
They recently revamped their job leveling after observing that their previously existing matrix did not have in-depth specification details.
For each job level, they offer comprehensive details about the skills, behaviors, expertise and scop of the role.
Spotify needs no introduction as it is a giant music streaming service with up to 400 million monthly users. Spotify uses a job leveling framework that promotes employees in growing their careers and broadening their impact on the overall economy.
Their job leveling framework is called “The Steps Framework.” The elements of this framework include:
Discipline: An area of expertise that an employee has, which includes engineering, project management, software development, etc.
Role: This refers to how an individual interacts with a discipline, team, or department. Roles include associate data scientist, HR manager, Software Engineer, etc.
Step: A set of behaviors and expectations linked with the employee’s efforts benefit the company. This determines the remuneration of the employee. Spotify measures steps by personal growth, and it is usually between the employee and their respective manager.
EY is all about personalized career development opportunities for their employees.
Entry level employees (trainnee, assistants, consultants, associates) can take their career to the next levels as:
- Seniors - initial management responsibilities (managing projects on site or coaching junior team members).
- Managers - managing several projects in parallel and being responsible for the communication with clients.
- Senior managers - expanding client relationships and taking more ownership of sales and people development.
- Directors - managing complex projects and larger teams, and specializing in a particular topic.
- Associate partner - continuing with Director responsibilities + developing top-level strategies.
- Partner - co-owner of the company - entrepreneurial focus.
Let's have a look at how EY's career track compares against other high-level management consultancies.
Bain & company have the most levels. They clearly differentiate between multiple entry-level roles: associate consultant intern, associate consultant, senior associate consultant, consultant.
In contrast, accenture offers only 5 levels, even fewer than EY: analyst, consultant, manager, senior manager and senior executive.
And as an added bonus, here is another job leveling matrix for a single department: Thrive Digital's Performance team (account management team). After 2 initial entry-level positions, employees can choose 3 paths within the department.
➡️ For more examples, check out our carefully curated career progression examples.
📈 Implement a complete development framework with Zavvy
Managing employee job leveling and progression for employees in a small or large organization is challenging without the right tools.
You have to:
- Set role and performance expectations.
- Identify skill gaps (you can use a skills matrix to document this process).
- Transparently document career opportunities within the company.
- Plan individuals' learning and development.
- Keep employees and supervisors motivated.
Even though spreadsheets can help you visualize this data, they also decrease productivity, are typically scattered all over the place, and are prone to error.
📈 A employee enablement tool like Zavvy can help you automate all of these tasks, cut off manual work, reduce the probability of errors and save time.
With our easy-to-understand and use features (and templates!), you can create a whole job leveling matrix with just a few clicks.
📅 Book a demo to see Zavvy's job leveling software in action.