Job evaluation : understanding the grading and remuneration strategies of architectural firms in Cape Town.
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Job Evaluation is the process of determining, as systematically and objectively as possible, the worth of one job relative to another without regard for personalities or existing structures. (Paterson, 1975) The purpose is to achieve and maintain an equitable distribution of basic wages and/or salaries according to level of position. The establishment of internal equity with a graded hierarchy of jobs within the organisation and of external equity with the external market rate for equivalent jobs (Paterson, 1975) is important and has lead to the overall analysis of the following problem statement: An Analysis of the Grading and Remuneration Structures of Architectural Practices in the Western Cape, Cape Town Metropole with specific reference to establishing what methods are used in arriving at cost to company packages. The nature of the architectural profession is unfortunately governed by economic "boom and bust" cycles and therefore workload fluctuates with the economy. Given this and that the architectural profession in Cape Town currently has no formal grading and remuneration structures, the research hopes to answer if there is a need to formulate a grading system. Understanding how and why the nature of the profession is changing, if the way a practice is organized / graded enhances or undermines its decision-making ability and if the informality of the grading and remuneration structures currently in practice are adequate, is studied. This research investigates how architectural practices in Cape Town establish their salary structures, which include benefits and incentives, thereby arriving at a total cost to company package. Specifically, the study will examine whether there is a direct relationship between those practices that have adopted a modern, scientific job grading system, i.e. Paterson, Peromnes or Task and accordingly pay market-related salaries and cost to company packages based on salary survey data or some other scientific calculation, as opposed to those practices which adopt an ad hoc approach. Many individuals choose architecture over other professions as they believe it can provide a work and family balance. The Royal Institute of Architects (RIBA) found that women's career paths generally slow after childbirth and with inflexible working arrangements, including long hours and a lack of transparency in relation to pay and promotion, are the main reasons why both women and men, generally with dependants are leaving the profession, (www.riba.org) A need to balance the personal and professional demands placed on architects has long been recognized by the majority of literature. The study evaluates whether firms are addressing these issues or if there is a need to implement changes to accommodate a better work / life balance and grading / remuneration imbalances. The survey found that there were discrepancies in the grading and remuneration packages offered between various firms; however not to the extent that RIBA had warned was occuring internationally. There are more noticeable differences in job grades and remuneration in the higher grades, but there were also signs of disparity in the architects 1-5 years of experience in terms of gender towards pay within similar job descriptions. When pay was directly compared to years of experience, members received similar pay, however when compared to levels of responsibility and pay, there were major differences. The current informal systems are not reflective or accurate in guiding employers on the correct levels of compensation for a particular level of responsibility and those architects practicing in the higher grades certainly need to evaluate their current levels of responsibility to their pay level and hours worked. The key question was, can architects- be they male or female - balance a working career with family responsibility. The days of a part-time architect have vanished, and those that do work part time are confined to helping on other member's schemes with less responsibility. The 'all-nighter' syndrome of the academic design studio is evident in some of the overtime hours recorded, but these marathon hours are few and far between and does not infringe on a regular home life for employees in the lower grades as the hours worked are in line with the normal 45 hour week. What is a concern is that in the upper grades, especially in senior member and owners, reported excessively long hours which are not condusive to normal work-family interaction. Other than some of the contraventions to the basic conditions of employment act, most firms are trying to address options for a balanced work / life relationship Salaries in particular are extremely low in relation to length of training when compared to similar professions. The research found that poor advancement prospects were a significant factor in members choosing to leave the profession. With lack of training opportunities leading to a lack of experience, lower levels of responsibility and poor career progression paths, combined with limited opportunities for creativity, were the main factors leading to architects expressing their dissatisfaction in the industry. From the salient points made in the study, a list of recommendations are outlined for consideration. These included developing more expertise in business management, addressing the image of the profession, training needs, salaries and working hours Architectural firms are seeing the demise of the old arena, dominated by tiered hierarchies, vertical career ladders, practices and processes that are confrontational and authoritarian. Workplaces are becoming more suited to negotiation, to collaborative management systems, horizontal career paths and a more democratic view of how individuals can develop within the company structure. 'It is no longer about what you can do for the company, but what the company can do for you.'