Focus: People Management - Case study - Job evaluation

Mathew Little,

The Fawcett Society carried out a job evaluation for each of its ten members of staff.

The Cranfield Institute puts charities in touch with consultants prepared to work for them free of charge. This is the first in a series of monthly case studies.


The Fawcett Society is a charity campaigning for sexual equality. It traces its roots to the 19th century and Millicent Fawcett's agitation for votes for women.

Today it campaigns on issues such as women's representation in politics and public life, equal pay and the treatment of women in the justice system.

Prompted by high staff turnover, which had in part been caused by erratic funding, Fawcett decided to review all its HR practices and made a commitment to all ten employees to evaluate their posts.

The society called in Dorothy Telfer, an HR consultant who takes part in Cranfield's free management consulting programme for small and medium-sized charities. She spent a period of seven days working with the staff and trustees.

How it worked

Telfer began with a staff lesson to explain the concept of job evaluation.

The society was clear that it needed 'buy-in' from all of its staff members.

"It wanted every employee to be involved, to be totally aware of what was happening, to be able to ask questions about the process and to recommend alternative solutions," says Telfer.

Katherine Rake, the society's director, knew the process could feel intimidating to those being evaluated. "Job evaluations can be painful and are often taken to be comments on personal performance rather than the competency of the job," she says.

Staff members were asked to write their own job descriptions to an agreed format. A committee that included staff and trustees evaluated every job.

Jobs were then graded according to the skills and competencies needed to do them. Five factors were assessed: knowledge and expertise; decision-making; thinking; leadership; and responsibility for resources.


Telfer says the exercise enabled each member of staff to understand what they needed if they were to do their jobs well and ways in which they could improve their skills.

Rake believes the process gave the society a much clearer internal structure.

"It gave staff a clear understanding of how they could move up and it produced a transparent framework for evaluating new posts," she says.

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