Job Architecture: Building structure into an evolving world

It’s an employee-centric environment. To achieve optimal internal equity and external competitiveness, it’s essential to establish a robust career architecture framework with consistent job analysis and job evaluation methodology. 
A staggering 81% of employees feel at risk of burnout this year (up from an already concerning 63% in 2020). They say the top reason for burnout is not feeling sufficiently rewarded for their efforts.
Mercer Global Talent Trends 2022

Job architecture = a consistent baseline and a career progression framework

Unfairness – whether real or perceived – particularly in base pay and rewards, is a key factor in employee disengagement.

A job architecture with clear job analysis and evaluation can help mitigate that risk. Job architecture provides a consistent and transparent framework for development activities and career paths for all employees in your organization. It is the baseline for fair and equitable enterprise-wide job and title evaluation, which are essential in successful reward and development programs.

A global job architecture is important, because:

  • It enables organizations to offer a seamless employee experience throughout the entire employee-life cycle, including individual and targeted development and learning activities, transparent and sustainable career paths, and succession planning.
  • HR can use it to provide predictive people analytics to the business, taking a major step towards strategic workforce planning.
  • It enables future job analysis, development, and evaluation.
  • It is a foundational platform for effective attraction, development, and retention of business-critical talent.
  • Organizations are able to comprehensively understand the internal comparability and external value of jobs.
  • It increases workplace flexibility.
  • HR can have immediate, easy access to every role in the organization.
  • After M&A – job architecture enables HR to quickly provide the business with the most effective model of the future organization – based on optimal numbers of levels, impactful career paths, and consistency in job evaluations. 
Mercer’s International Position Evaluation (IPE) and Career Framework are two key elements in a successful job architecture. 

After implementing Mercer IPE


of organizations saved time on grading requests.


of companies saved time on the grading process.


years for most organizations to recognize measurable ROI.

Mercer IPE is an essential element of any job architecture 

Mercer IPE is a proprietary global job evaluation methodology based on a series of business-related factors and dimensions that represent core job attributes.

Application of the IPE methodology provides an organizing framework based on a job's value within the context of an organization – and the wider commercial environment.

IPE implementation follows a simple process focusing on organization structure, the complexities of the business, and the alignment of jobs to the business.

Career progression frameworks play a critical role in talent and succession

In a world filled with opportunities, how do you ensure talent chooses you, and then choose to stay with you?

One of the drivers of resignations is that people don’t see long-term career progression in their organization or see better external options. This risk can be managed with a strategic career framework.

Compelling internal professional development and career pathways form a critical part of talent attraction and retention. Not only does a well-designed and publicized career progression framework attract new talent, but it also allows your people to grow and thrive with you – creating engaging employee and experiences.

Career frameworks also enable better strategic workforce planning, and faster internal backfilling of business-critical roles by mapping all possible career paths to each role.

When viewed in such a light, a career progression framework should sit at the core of every HR strategy, touching on all workforce initiatives. Yet, our research shows that, surprisingly, only one in two companies have a career framework. The absence of one is likely posing challenges for attraction, retention, and internal backfilling of business-critical roles. Other common problems we see include:

  • Lack of information

    Even in organizations with formal career progression frameworks, career path information is often not readily available and career conversations are not happening regularly enough. More needs to be done to help employees recognize the compelling opportunities that exist within their own organizations to build their career, including frequent conversations with their manager to help brainstorm possible career moves, and strategize how to build their skill set.
  • No structural support

    In some organizations, there are distinct discrepancies between business units when defining their job and career architecture. The vast majority are reactively creating new job levels and/or adding steppingstone roles, frequently, there are also regional variations.

    Career progression frameworks need to be intentionally designed at micro and macro levels. In this talent demand economy, the onus is on the organization – and direct managers – to architect and inspire career experiences and paths that have intentional and meaningful movement.

  • One-size approach no longer works

    Organizations need to be aware of, and work with, their employees’ experience and expectations. In this era of the individual, just as employees expect to have a lot more agency about where, when, and how they work, they also want to be fully informed about their choices for career development and advancement.

Because great career opportunities drive talent retention. Let your people grow with you.

A career framework is a strategic centerpiece that sits at the core of every HR department and touches on all workforce initiatives, yet surprisingly, only one in two companies have a career framework. This is at odds with the 70% of companies who report confidence in filling their critical roles internally. 

Compelling careers are built by career path frameworks

Become the source of the talent you need by creating a career framework.
  • Find out what development means to your employees 
    Start by asking your employees what a compelling career looks like from their perspective. What skills and experiences do they value? What growth opportunities are they seeking? By finding out what your workforce wants, you can create careers that combine their interests with the needs of your organization.
  • Design high impact careers using real career paths
    Intentionally design the Transparency, Control and Velocity of career paths to fulfill both your organization’s need for a ready-now skills pipeline as well as your employees' need to feel they are advancing at the right pace.
  • Institutionalize a career culture
    Using technology to ensure career information is easily accessible. Facilitate movement and career progression by recognizing non-lateral career moves, celebrating learning rather than just promotions, and rewarding high potentials with more meaningful career experiences.
  • Make careers engaging and fun 
    Invest time in ensuring managers see employee career development as central to their roles. Equip people managers with talking points on how to lead career conversations effectively with the stated objective of showing employees that your organization is one in which they can grow and thrive.
We help you ensure your career framework engages and inspires your people – so they pursue their professional progression inside your organization.

More insights from Mercer Job and Career Architecture 

Mercer invests in job architecture methodologies. We conduct ongoing research to ensure alignment with the global marketplace, and we are committed to providing organizations with a leading platform for managing diverse talent populations.

Our job analysis and evaluation methodology allow organizations to understand the internal comparability and external value of jobs while facilitating the rapid development of new roles and responsibilities.

Building on our expertise and best practice, we can help you create a job architecture without investing too many resources.

Related insights

    Begin your job architecture journey with Mercer today. 

    Speak to our career progression framework specialists today to design engaging career pathways through your organization, so you can motivate your people to grow with you.