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How to Address Job Grade Inconsistencies in Job Evaluation: A Case Study

Natasha Chimphondah
Last Updated: 07-05-2024 2:09 PM


Job evaluation is a systematic process that assesses the relative worth of jobs within an organization. It helps establish a fair and equitable pay structure by determining the value of each position based on factors such as skills required, responsibilities, decision making, and job complexity.

Key Takeaways


  • Grading inconsistencies may arise from a discrepancy between perceived and actual job demands caused by job descriptions that do not effectively represent the essential features.
  • Vague or ambiguous language in job descriptions can contribute to inconsistent grading decisions.
  • Organizations must regularly review and update job descriptions to ensure alignment with current job demands. Clear and thorough job descriptions improve the accuracy and reliability of job evaluation results.


The Impact of Inadequate Job Descriptions on Accuracy in Job Evaluation

A job description (JD) is a document that contains information about the requirements, duties, and scope of a position. In a job evaluation exercise, the job description is the main ingredient. It provides the exercise with essential information about duties, responsibilities, required skills, supervision, and decision-making levels. These elements are used to evaluate the value that the role brings to the organization, and as such, its role in the exercise is vital.

Grading inconsistencies may arise from a discrepancy between perceived and actual job demands caused by job descriptions that do not effectively represent the essential features. Common issues arise from outdated or incomplete job descriptions that no longer reflect the actual nature of the role.


Additionally, vague or exaggerated language in job descriptions can contribute to inconsistent grading decisions. Failure to capture critical aspects such as decision-making authority and impact on organizational outcomes can lead to undervaluation or overvaluation of positions.

Case Study: Non Profit Organization 

At IPC, a consultancy firm specializing in human resources and business management, we recently conducted a comprehensive job evaluation exercise for an NGO operating.

During the evaluation process, we utilized the Paterson Job Evaluation method, which is a widely recognized and commonly used approach in job evaluation. The Paterson method assesses jobs based on various factors or sub-bands, including complexity, accountability, and skills required. These factors are used to assign a grade or score to each job, which then informs decisions regarding pay and organizational structure.

Challenges Faced

During the job description development stage, concerns were raised by the consultant about the content inadequacy of some of the job descriptions submitted for grading. The problems were partly addressed, and the exercise proceeded to the job grading stage using the Paterson system. 

Our initial job grading review revealed several discrepancies in the assigned grades for both senior and lower-level positions within the organization. These discrepancies indicated a misalignment between the perceived and actual responsibilities of these roles. Some of the roles also changed in scope during the exercise, and as such, the grade did not align with the new duties.

Solutions Implemented

To address these challenges, we adopted a collaborative approach with the NGO's executive team. This involved convening joint meetings to discuss feedback and provide context on positions, allowing for a deeper understanding of the discrepancies. Structured action items were agreed upon, including revising job descriptions, reassessing grades, and ensuring compliance with established evaluation criteria.

1. Comprehensive Job Description Review

We conducted a thorough review of existing job descriptions to identify gaps and ensure they accurately reflected the roles' duties, decision-making levels, and required skill sets.

2. Transparent Grading Process

We implemented transparent grading processes, providing detailed scoring sheets outlining individual scores awarded for each Paterson sub-banding factor. This facilitated a transparent analysis and ensured credibility in the grading outcomes.

How to Avoid the Above Challenges

Organizations must implement a structured and collaborative approach to job description development. It is essential for avoiding grading discrepancies. This approach involves engaging both HR professionals and incumbents who are in the roles in question to ensure that job descriptions accurately reflect the day-to-day responsibilities and requirements of each position. 

Regular feedback sessions and consultations can help identify any discrepancies or areas for improvement in job descriptions, ensuring that they remain relevant and up-to-date. Additionally, providing training and resources to managers and employees on writing effective job descriptions can enhance the quality and clarity of the documents.

Clear and comprehensive job descriptions enhance the accuracy and reliability of job evaluation results, facilitating fair and equitable grading outcomes. Click here if you are interested in learning more about Job Evaluation and how to do it well.


Through collaborative efforts and systematic approaches, we successfully addressed the identified discrepancies and established a credible rank order of positions within the NGO. Organizations can avoid these challenges during a job evaluation exercise by allocating time to make sure that job descriptions are up-to-date and are truly reflective of all the roles. This ensures that the job evaluation process is accurate. This case study serves as a blueprint for organizations highlighting the importance of comprehensive job evaluation practices in fostering fairness and equity within the workforce.

Natasha Chimphondah


This article was written by one of the consultants at IPC

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