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Writing Job Descriptions: Part 1 – Why Are they Important?

5 mins read

This article is written to provide you with a summary of why it would be beneficial to have a job description for all the positions in your business.

Have you ever worked for a company where it seemed like an exhausting process just looking for someone to answer your questions? I previously worked for an organization like that, where at times I felt like a chicken running around with its head cut off because the majority of employees did not know what their colleague’s job responsibilities were, let alone the person I should be speaking with to get the answers for my questions.

As I write this article, I recall asking where I could find the employees job descriptions. I was told that the company did not keep these documents current. This was because in the past, employees would say “its not in my job description” or “its not my job”. In my opinion, when employees act in this manner, they are describing the company’s culture and their inability to work effectively as a team.

An effective team is one that works together, supports one another, and has a general understanding of everyone’s role within their team and in the company. Job Descriptions (JDs) are a practical way to provide everyone with an understanding of their colleague’s scope of work. It would be beneficial to have JDs available for everyone to view, as this can eliminate a number of questions and resolve confusion around everyone’s job.

JDs are generally based on objective information obtained through a job analysis, which is generally completed before a position is recruited for. Completing this process will help everyone involved understand what each position is going to be generally focused on and accomplishing, including the competencies and skills that are required by the incumbent to be productive in their role. JDs are a useful tool for various reasons such as, but not limited to:

    • future workforce planning
    • understanding a positions primary focus, qualifications, or experience
    • determining compensation
    • giving insight on training requirements
    • referencing on how an employee spends their time at work
    • evaluating an employee’s performance
    • supporting justification when taking corrective actions on performance
    • protecting the company legally when used as evidence in court proceedings
    • used as supporting documentation when an employee is applying for short/long term disability or has a WCB claim

Whether you are a small or large business, JDs can help align employee’s direction and goals to support the company’s strategic plan. JDs are not a requirement for businesses to have, however, if you do decide to use JDs, try seeing them as live documents and remember that not everything is set in stone… make sure you communicate this to your employees. It can be better to have open dialogue about job responsibilities rather than being vague about expectations.

It can be beneficial to engage your employees in the development and reviews of their JDs on a regular basis for job accountability and accuracy. To expand on this, when conducting JD reviews, you are giving the employee an opportunity to feel like their contributions are valued, as well as helping them to better understand their role and their teams.

This process may also aid with identifying any gaps, job overlaps, and misunderstandings that might be happening. You want to ensure that all employees are being held accountable and are evaluated accurately during their performance evaluations. A general rule of HR is that when it comes to performance reviews, the employee is not surprised by what they are being evaluated on.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series when we discuss the formatting of an effective Job Description.

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