SFIA framework: How it’s helping our staff realise their career potential

We’re aiming to promote 30% of our employees annually. This is how we plan to do it.

At Zaizi, our staff are at the centre of everything we do. We want to make sure that everyone who works here feels happy and empowered in their role. 

So that we know how the people who work here are thinking and feeling, four times a year we send out an employer net promoter score (eNPS) survey. The eNPS tracks how satisfied our employees feel at work. It also lets us gather suggestions on how we as an organisation can improve. All answers are anonymous, meaning our staff know they can be open and honest with their feedback. 

In the first quarter of 2020, one of the top three suggestions from the survey was around career progression. Many of our staff wanted to have a clear view of what they could do to progress their careers. It was my job to put in place a new system to help them understand their responsibility at work, and what steps they needed to take to realise their career potential. 

How we use the SFIA framework at Zaizi

SFIA – short for Skills For The Information Age – is a skills and competency framework that is used in over 180 countries around the world. It’s a way of describing the skills and competencies required by professionals in roles involved in information and communication technologies, digital transformation and software engineering. SFIA is used by many government digital and IT departments to support their workforce and human capital development processes. Because many of our customers use it, it’s perfect for use at Zaizi. 

We took each job role at Zaizi and graded it, using SFIA levels of responsibility. Everyone in the company is evaluated on five core skills: 

We also graded all our employees based on their levels of responsibility – SFIA 1 being the lowest grade, and 7 being the highest.

  1. Follow
  2. Assist 
  3. Apply
  4. Enable
  5. Ensure, advise
  6. Initiate, influence
  7. Set strategy, inspire, mobilise

Putting career progression in the hands of our employees

We’ve decided that career progression at Zaizi should be led by our employees, with assistance from their line managers.

Using the SFIA framework, our employees can understand where they are at with their career, and know how to realise their career potential. To prove they are ready for promotion, we ask our employees to gather feedback on their work from their managers and peers. They can then use that feedback to show how they are demonstrating skills associated with a higher SFIA grade.

If they can demonstrate they’re working consistently at a higher SFIA grade, they get a promotion. It’s that simple. 

How the SFIA framework is powering our promotion plans

We’ve had positive feedback from our employees about this SFIA-led approach to career progression. But the really good news is that it seems to be working. In this financial year, Zaizi has promoted 11 people – that’s 13% of our permanent employees.

We plan to do more, though. Our long-term ambition is to promote 30% of employees annually. The SFIA framework makes for a happier, more skilled and more motivated workforce – for us, and for our employees, it’s a win-win. 

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