Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Assessing the Validity of Job Evaluation

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Assessing the Validity of Job Evaluation

Article excerpt

Assessing the Validity of Job Evaluation

While past research concerning the "tools and techniques" of job evaluation has had merit, there has been too little focus upon the purpose of pay as an outcome and job evaluation as a measure related to that outcome. The comparable worth debate has further "muddied the water" with regard to first determining, and then operationalizing, a basis for conducting valid job evaluation. This article asserts that job evaluation is valid to the extent it results in adequate and equitable pay in organizations. This assertion is based upon the premise that pay adequacy and pay equity facilitate employee productivity--a primary purpose for compensating people in the first place.

"Job evaluation" has been defined as a generic term to describe a set of procedures which create a hierarchy of jobs based upon their worth to an organization.(1) Job evaluation has become important as a means of implementing comparable worth statutes, particularly in the public sector. At present, at least 14 states now have some form of legislation prohibiting gender inequality in compensating jobs of comparable worth.(2) Unfortunately, there are currently no clear standards for assessing the validity of job evaluation. No consistent approach for resolving this problem is apparent either in current practice or in rationalizations of practice.(3)

Seeking A Common Ground

Several threats to the validity of job evaluation exist. The training of raters and the selection of factors and factor weights all have a bearing on the validity of job evaluation outcomes. Subjectivity on the part of raters, for example, is an often cited problem.(4) The selection and weighting of compensable factors also has significant bearing upon the validity of job evaluation outcomes.(5) Misuse (or misinterpretation) of statistical procedures is also problematic.(6)

Research emphasizing the "tools and techniques" of job evaluation--training of raters, selection of factors, and determination of factor weights and quantitative measurement of job content--is important and merits continuing investigation. However, empirical research on job evaluation and comparable worth has been compromised because concern with "tools and techniques" overshadows more basic methodological problems, such as establishing a theoretical basis for defining job worth.(7) The parameters of a research domain need to be outlined before it can be effectively explored.(8)

Of primary importance at present is determination of a theoretical basis for confirming (or disconfirming) the validity of pay (the outcome) resulting from job evaluation (the measure). Considering job pricing and job evaluation together departs from the usual view that job evaluation and pricing are separate. However, systems theory suggests that job evaluation and pricing should be considered parts of an organized, unitary compensation system. Moreover, job evaluation as it is usually practiced merely reflects external exchange rates and does not adequately define job worth apart from external rates.(9)

The validity of the job evaluation process by itself (i.e. "tools and techniques") is a necessary, but insufficient, delineation of the parameters of job evaluation validity. Ultimately, the worth of jobs is determined not only by the number of job evaluation points awarded a position, but also by what an employer is willing to pay a position. This article, consequently, considers job pricing as an outcome of job evaluation.

Before proceeding further, it should be acknowledged that "pay" is only one of a large number of variables affecting work behavior in organizations. Also, "compensation" is a broader term than "pay" encompassing rewards aside from financial remuneration, such as benefits and "psychic income". The reader should keep in mind that this article is concerned with pay rather than with the broader concept of compensation. …

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