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The critical process of job mapping in M&A transactions

By Laura Rickey | October 25, 2021

When integrating human capital programs amid an M&A transaction, it’s important to use a common career framework.
Mergers and Acquisitions|Employee Experience

Bringing two workforces together in an M&A transaction poses many challenges, and one of the most critical is mapping jobs to a common career framework.

The “upstream” organizational design combined with job mapping influences where an employee fits into an organization. Additionally, there are also “downstream” implications, including the delivery of talent and rewards programs to employees. In this article, we define both a job and job mapping, why job mapping is important, how to map jobs, and lessons learned in the process.

Definitions of job and job mapping

To understand job mapping, we must first define a job. A job is the unique intersection of the type of work delivered and the level of contribution provided.

We use the term job architecture to describe the content and nature of work, body of knowledge, and skill similarity.

We use the term job architecture to describe the content and nature of work, body of knowledge, and skill similarity. For example, jobs that provide financial support to the organization would be found in the finance function within the job architecture. Often, the function of a job may be the same or similar as the organization design. But the two are distinct. While most of the jobs that provide financial support to the organization may be found in the finance group from an organization design perspective, financial analysts may also be embedded in other parts of the business. As part of job mapping, jobs are typically assigned to a job function (i.e., finance) and then to a further delineation of sub-function (i.e., financial analysis).

Job level is the relative value of a job in an organization. It creates a common language for the type and level of work and contribution across an organization’s operations and provides a basis for describing job requirements and performance expectations at different levels of the organization agnostic of function/sub-function. Often job level is first delineated by the type of contribution provided, which may involve:

  • Manual/physical (e.g., production line workers)
  • Business support (e.g., administrative assistants)
  • Technical support (e.g., engineering technicians, help desk operators)
  • Professional (e.g., software engineers, human resources business partners)
  • Management (e.g., manager of accounting, director of facilities)
  • Executive (e.g., senior vice president of production)

And within these types or bands of contribution, further delineation of level is determined (entry, intermediate, senior, lead, etc.).

The combination of a unique function/sub-function (finance/financial analysis) and level (professional/senior) typically equals a unique job. The full system of functions/sub-functions and bands/levels may be referred to as a career framework. And the process of assigning jobs to the career framework is often referred to as job mapping.

The process of assigning jobs to the career framework is often referred to as job mapping.

Below is an illustration of Willis Towers Watson’s career map framework — one model that many organizations use as a starter template for their career frameworks.

fullscreenClick to expand for more details

Why job mapping is important

In a transaction, having a career framework supported by accurate job mapping is critical to helping the combined organization and its managers and employees speak with a “common language” and establishing criteria for describing and valuing jobs, both internally and externally.

Having a career framework supported by accurate job mapping is critical to helping the combined organization and its managers and employees speak with a “common language”.

When an organization has a common set of definitions for the type of work being done (finance), type of contribution (professional) and level with the type (senior), it allows managers and employees to understand how jobs relate to each other and see logical connections and opportunities for movement among jobs. This also allows for a consistent use of titles that can further assist with understanding the connections and relative values of jobs.

The career framework also supports the basic illustration of career opportunities and requirements for career advancement (provided in the function/sub-function and level criteria/definitions). And organizations often build off the basics of the career framework to provide more details on a variety of potential career paths/opportunities, supported by a career management philosophy and supporting tools. This work helps managers and employees understand and discuss such opportunities as part of the overall employee experience.

Additionally, the career framework also provides a context to support a variety of talent and rewards programs. Typically, the first programs directly linked to the career framework are the base salary program and incentive opportunities.

Furthermore, the career framework may also support and be linked to:

  • Performance management expectations
  • Succession planning
  • Learning and development needs/offerings
  • Workforce planning and analytics efforts

Setting the stage for the job mapping process

During a transaction, the job mapping process typically involves a variety of stakeholders and can be completed in many ways. The compensation team is often responsible for the process, but they may have help from human resources business partners and representatives from the business with knowledge of the jobs being mapped. It is important for the team conducting the job mapping to understand the jobs and their alignment to the career framework.

Data is key to starting the process.

Data is key to starting the process. The team needs to have details of the career framework (whether from a legacy organization or a revised/new career framework), documentation of the jobs to be mapped and a process for reaching and documenting decisions. The documentation can include:

  • Job inventory
  • Profile of roles
  • Organizational charts
  • Mappings of jobs to legacy systems

The mapping team must understand the context and responsibilities of the jobs to be mapped. It is important to focus on the job and not the person who is in that job currently, or the present title, or compensation. The team will likely rely on input from organizational and functional experts who are representative of both sides of the transaction. In addition to providing context, they have institutional knowledge that can be documented for future reference.

It is important to have facilitators in this process. They keep the process on track and ensure that decision makers remain objective. They also can capture the issues and document the decisions, particularly if some on the job mapping team become redundant because of the deal.

Mapping the jobs

Once the data is available and the roles are identified, it is time to start the mapping process by organizing and assigning jobs to functions/sub-functions. Once a job is assigned to a function (e.g., finance) and sub function (e.g., financial analysis), the next decision is to map to contribution types or band (e.g., professional) and level (e.g., intermediate).

Once the mapping is complete, it is important to calibrate the job mappings across functions/sub-functions and between bands/levels to ensure quality outcomes and buy-in. Such calibration validates that mapping teams have interpreted functions/sub functions and bands/levels consistently.

Validation is the last phase, and this secures the appropriate approvals of the outcomes, including aligning employees to the mapped jobs. Organization leaders and midlevel managers are typically engaged to review the results and validate for their organizations as part of finalizing results.

Lessons learned

From our experience, we note key lessons learned to support future efforts.

  1. 01

    Determine key stakeholders, their roles and the approval process at the beginning and check this process throughout.

    We recommend involving stakeholders with the best information about the jobs, as well as those the organization needs to support and champion the implementation and communication of job mapping results.

  2. 02

    Do not underestimate the effort.

    While job mapping may appear to be a straight-forward process, the challenge is in the details. For some transactions, one of the organization’s existing career frameworks is used as the baseline system for mapping. This can simplify the process and require just the mapping of one organization to the other’s career framework.

    While job mapping may appear to be a straight-forward process, the challenge is in the details.

    However, in transformative transactions, the underlying system presumably would need to be revised or replaced; in this case, all jobs would need to be mapped to a new career framework. Furthermore, assume there are nuances in jobs that will not be covered in the job documentation but will come up in the calibration and validation processes. It is also typically necessary to review and confirm that employees are in the right jobs after positions are mapped to the structure.

  3. 03

    Make sure the process is supported by strong change management and communications work from the beginning.

    We have already highlighted the need to identify and determine stakeholders’ roles/involvement early on and test that throughout the process. It is also important to communicate clearly with these stakeholders throughout the process. And, as the job mapping results are shared, it is critical to help managers and employees understand the process, results and implications. While there are rewards programs that ultimately are tied to job mapping results, these are distinct from job mapping. Last, job mapping is not a reflection of individual employee performance or potential.

While job mapping can be challenging, there are good tools, processes and lessons learned to assist those responsible for this important work.


Senior Director, Talent and Rewards
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Managing Director, Global M&A Leader

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