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March 12, 2012

Placing Bets on Job Descriptions

I am not a gambling person, but I do have one item I would consider betting on.  And that would be the “most disliked function” within the HR profession.  I would be willing to bet a cup of coffee that one of the top five – make that top three – disliked functions would be writing job descriptions.  In most organizations I have worked at, this is the task that continuously gets shifted to the bottom of the pile.  It commonly gets pushed below reviewing resumes and even dealing with difficult employee relations issues.

Is this because job descriptions just aren’t important?  Or are they a low priority for the company?  Not necessarily.  My personal belief is that job descriptions, when completed accurately, are a time-consuming and often cumbersome process.  However, when I would start a new position, one of the best ways for me to learn about the company and employees was to conduct job evaluations and review job descriptions.

There are, of course, many other reasons job descriptions are important.  Assuming your job descriptions are accurate and up-to-date, they are great tools to review to see if an employee is measuring up to the duties as described in the job description.  Many of these duties can also be expanded on to include as performance goals.

Job descriptions can be used to comply with laws such as the ADA.  By identifying the essential functions of a position within a job description, an employer is certainly in a much better position to defend an ADA claim than if essential duties are not defined.  Job descriptions and determining essential functions are defined in this EEOC website:

And don’t forget the value of having job descriptions when reviewing training and development of employees.  By reviewing the specific requirements of a particular position, you can see what kind of training would be most beneficial to each position in your organization.

Although these reasons may not make the actual task of completing job descriptions any easier, they certainly may help you understand why job descriptions are important.  I”d be willing to bet that you won”t regret having good job descriptions in place.  And remember, HRN Performance Solutions can help your organization with its job description needs.   




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