Role evaluation is the method of determining the relative work value of a job (role) through assessing the nature, impact and accountabilities of the role. Evidence to support this assessment should be gathered in a structured and systematic way.
When is role evaluation required?
In support of consistent classification decision-making across the APS, agencies are encouraged to incorporate a structured role evaluation process into their classification management practices.
A role evaluation should be conducted when:
- allocating a classification to a newly created role
- reviewing a role which has substantially changed due to circumstances such as machinery of government changes, a restructure or reorganisation within an agency, or a new policy
- a vacancy occurs (but before the commencement of a recruitment process) to assess whether the role has changed over time.
Role evaluation principles
The principles for role evaluation build on the classification principle that work value is the basis for classifying a job.
- Analyse the job, not the person - analysis is applied to a role and its requirements rather than the particular qualities of the person performing it.
- Quality information about the role - is fundamental to the quality, integrity and credibility of job analysis. The HR Practitioner or APS Manager (the assessor)should ensure that assessments are evidence-based and do not make assumptions about aspects of the role.
- Ignore the existing classification level - role evaluation is about having a fresh look at the role.
- Take into account both the significance and the frequency of tasks undertaken.
- Consider all existing responsibilities or planned future responsibilities.
- Do not classify a job on the basis of the workload or how busy it is.
Prior to undertaking a role evaluation activity careful consideration should be given to determining:
- the scope of the exercise (e.g. certain role/s, all roles in a team or section)
- the timing of the evaluation (e.g. relationship to associated activities such as planned changes to role requirements, staffing structures, vacancy management)
- who should be involved (e.g. incumbents, immediate supervisors, relevant stakeholders, delegate) and the process itself.
Dealing with potential sensitivities
The role evaluation process can potentially be a sensitive issue for those involved, in particular where an existing role has a current incumbent performing the duties. Therefore it is important for the assessor to manage expectations and alleviate any apprehension and misunderstanding as well as communicate effectively to affected/involved staff including providing advice about possible outcomes.
The below suggestions may assist the assessor in managing potential sensitivities.
- Establish what possible action could be taken if the classification outcome differs from the anticipated classification. For example, reclassifying or redesigning the role.
- Explain the possible classification outcomes to the incumbent and the manager, and be clear about what these mean for the incumbent. Outcomes may include:
- Redesign of the job if the assessed classification does not match the current classification (modifying, enhancing or removing tasks and responsibilities as appropriate) while keeping the incumbent in the position.
- Reclassification of the job to match the assessed classification(ensure that incumbents understand that they may need to apply for the job if it is now classified at a higher level).
- Move the incumbent to another position that matches his/her current classification level.
- Redesign of the work area and allocation of tasks, responsibilities and functions to ensure that roles reflect appropriate classifications and concurrent movement of employees to appropriate positions.
- Be aware that managers and/or incumbents may try to influence the outcome by ‘talking up’ or downplaying the role. Using a variety of information sources will help to address this.
- Focus on obtaining very specific, detailed and current information to ensure that an impartial and accurate assessment can be made to establish the appropriate classification.
In all cases it is important to conduct the evaluation with empathy and to be as neutral as possible.
An employee displaced by the reclassification of their role should be redeployed or reassigned to another role at their classification level in accordance with processes in the agency’s enterprise agreement regarding workplace change.
Thorough information and documentation of procedures relating to classification decisions are necessary to safeguard the integrity and transparency of the process. A decision to allocate a new or revised classification level to a job is made under delegated authority under the Public Service Act 1999 and the Public Service Classification Rules 2000. This means a record of the decision must be made, including the reasons for the decision. Adequate documentation in support of classification decisions can also provide valuable information to assist any subsequent review of a role, for example where future work value changes may need to be assessed.
Documentation for role evaluation can include, but is not limited to, job descriptions, completed questionnaires and a record of interviews. Other supporting documentation may include:
- background information (who initiated the action and why)
- in the case of a new role – evidence about the need for the new role and why it has been established
- an assessment of the resource impact of the creation or reclassification
- an analysis leading to task and job design
- supporting reasons for the classification decision, including reference to the comparisons made with formal standards
- in the case of a reclassification – a summary and assessment of work value change, including reference to the authority for the change.
Maintaining such records is important to an agency’s ability to manage its classification arrangements effectively. The extent of detail and the type of information provided in support of the decision made also depends upon the nature and complexity of the role.
Role evaluation process
Role evaluation is a two part process. First, evidence is gathered to understand the role(job analysis). Second, the role is assessed and measured against established criteria (work level standards).
Undertaking these two steps allows the following information to be identified:
- the job context – the characteristics of the work area, agency and environment in which the role operates
- the role – the required tasks, duties and responsibilities
- the worker requirements – the required knowledge, skills, abilities and personal attributes.
Step 1 – Understand the role
Job analysis is an integral part of any role evaluation process. The aim of job analysis is to obtain sufficient factual information to allow an informed assessment of the essential nature of the work and its relative value.
Job analysis must be conducted in a systematic way and generally involves:
- Information gathering. The assessor collects role-related evidence to inform the assessment. Information sources must be accurate and current. Information sources may include the role description for an existing role, business plans, performance agreements etc. All information needs to be reliable and consistent with what is known about the role. A table is provided in Part 5 listing different sources of information that could be used for new and existing roles.
- Analysis. At this point the assessor identifies the most critical or essential tasks, related skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform the duties and ultimately, the job effectively.
In determining this, the following factors should be considered:
- difficulty and/or criticality of the tasks being performed
- impact on job outcomes
- impact on other roles within the work area or agency
- how frequently the tasks are performed.
What do you need to find out?
The type of information needed will depend on the reason for the analysis, for example whether it is a new role or because of an expected change to the duties of an existing role.
Relevant questions to ask may include:
- What are the key responsibilities of the role?
- What are the key skills and/or technical knowledge used in the role?
- What are the key challenges for the role?
- Who are the key clients and stakeholders? What interactions occur or are expected to occur and what is the nature of these interactions?
Establish the job context factors that relate to the role such as:
- scope of responsibility
- degree of decision-making required and its impact
- depth of knowledge and/or expertise required
- variety of skills needed
- work demand, e.g. regular peaks and troughs in workload
- whether the work is steady or fast-paced
- impact of the role in the team, organisation and/or externally
- degree of autonomy associated with the role
- extent to which the work is structured and routine
- degree to which procedures are prescribed
- level of accountability.
Information about the work area structure is key, with regard to the
- direct manager
- any other employees who report to the role
- other roles in the team
- the key functions of all roles in the team.
Information about the function of the work area should also be identified, specifically the
- primary function of the work area
- key outcomes of the work area
- primary output produced or service provided
- government priorities that are relevant to the work area
- any significant legal or governance frameworks that are relevant to the functions of the work area.
It is good practice to use a number of different sources of information and it is recommended that a minimum of two (2) sources are used to ensure a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the role. Interviews with the person undertaking the duties (incumbent), the manager, and others who are expected to interact with the role, such as clients, stakeholders and peers are a useful source of information.
Where a HR practitioner is the assessor, interviews with the incumbent and manager should be used to obtain ‘factual information’ about the role. Avoid loaded and leading questions that might confirm unfounded preconceptions of the role. An example interview is provided in Part 5 to assist with the types of questions to ask. The assessor may, however, need to ask clarifying questions and delve deeper to elicit the required information.
Step 2 – Assess the role
Assessing the role involves objectively evaluating the role based on the information/evidence gathered from ‘Step 1 – understand the role’ and using it to inform decisions about the role. The primary purpose is to allocate a classification level to a job, however this step may also be used to design or re-design role responsibilities.
To classify a job, the information obtained about the role and responsibilities is compared with the relevant work level standards. Work level standards capture the way in which tasks and responsibilities differ across classifications. In determining the appropriate classification for a job, an assessment should consider those characteristics of the work level standards that are most relevant to the role. Work level standards are generic documents that apply to a wide range of roles, so it may also be useful to compare the role to existing roles that have a similar work value. Role comparisons can be made against roles in the same agency or in another APS agency.
To support the introduction of the APS work level standards (APS Level and Executive Level classifications), the Commission has developed the APS Evaluation Tool to assist agencies evaluate roles and determine the appropriate classification level, as measured against the APS work level standards. The evaluation tool assesses roles against work value descriptions which relate to different degrees of responsibility with a corresponding scale for scoring roles.