Write Effective Job Descriptions
Improve hiring effectiveness, bolster performance management, and ease succession planning with robust job descriptions.
The importance of job descriptions is frequently minimized or overlooked; they are seen as a necessary evil and pushed behind the important tasks. This second-class status has resulted in an ad hoc approach to the design and maintenance of job descriptions, and inconsistency is commonplace.
Inaccurate job descriptions can have a far-reaching and costly impact on your business, including misguided recruitment and selection practices, off-base performance management, off-market compensation, and flawed workforce planning. This is particularly true if managers or HR staff use inaccurate job descriptions as a decision input – knowingly or not.
At a minimum, every organization should make a commitment to updating any job descriptions that will be used as a decision input. Otherwise, as the saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out.”
A structured approach to job-description design and maintenance is crucial to optimal business operation. This requires that a job description template be designed, guidelines be set, and training for both managers and HR staff be provided. In addition to driving effectiveness, this will streamline the job description creation process and maximize efficiency.
Job descriptions are the foundation of a variety of HR initiatives, from recruitment to workforce planning. They also drive job clarity for employees, resulting in greater employee engagement, performance commitment, and intent to stay.
For every 10% increase in “Clarity of Job Expectations,” “Engagement” increases by 3.9%.
In fact, going from 0% to 100% job clarity is correlated with an engagement score that is almost 2x higher.
For every 10% increase in “Clarity of Job Expectations,” “Performance Commitment” increases by 3.6%.
In fact, going from 0% to 100% job clarity is correlated with a performance commitment score that is roughly 1.7x higher.
For every 10% increase in “Clarity of Job Expectations,” “Intent to Stay” increases by 5%.
In fact, going from 0% to 100% job clarity is correlated with an intent to stay score that is almost 2.5x higher.
Job descriptions have a critical impact throughout the organization:
For employees: Job descriptions help incumbents understand their key duties and responsibilities, affecting employee engagement, performance commitment, and organizational commitment.
For managers: Job descriptions help identify the best person for a job, set work loads, establish SMART performance objectives, and accurately gauge job performance.
For HR: Job descriptions are used in all areas of HR, but are particularly vital in talent acquisition and compensation for ensuring quality of hire is high and compensation is both equitable and competitive.
For the organization: Job descriptions help drive performance and achieve business success by ensuring that work performed is aligned with
Take applicable labor laws into consideration before finalizing your job descriptions approach.
Most countries have common and/or case law regarding job descriptions. Be sure to refer to applicable labor legislation in all countries of operation.
Maintain compliance with labor laws when determining the essential duties. When identifying essential duties consider:
Are the employees in that position actually required to perform the function?
Would removing the function fundamentally change the job?
Create a central repository to boost access, visibility, and management of job descriptions.
Also, follow set standards for job description record keeping according to legal and archival regulations.
Use internal and external data to help populate common areas of the job description.
• Conduct a job analysis to understand job tasks, working conditions, and job specifications.
• Consult McLean & Company job description library for information on a variety of positions.
McLean & Company has identified the following key components to be included in the Job Description:
• General position information
• Job description summary
• Essential results-based duties
• Minimum qualifications
• Preferred qualifications
• Core, functional, and leadership competencies
• Work environment
• Signatures for approval
However, be sure to customize the job description to suit the requirements of your organization.
When developing a job description, ensure it is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
• It is used in various HR management activities, so it needs to reflect the reality of the job, and provide a sufficient level of specificity to be meaningful.
• Don’t just provide a laundry list of tasks and responsibilities. The responsibilities listed should be essential duties and reflect the priorities of the position.
Use manager training to communicate the impact of the job description and ensure it is applied across varies HR functional areas. Manager training should cover the following applications of the job description:
• Performance management – Develop performance appraisal criteria and set goals based on the essential duties and competencies documented in the job description.
• Talent management – Use job descriptions to provide employees with a clear understanding of what is expected from them in their role, as well as how their role contributes to the overall success of the organization.
• Learning & development – Use job descriptions in conjunction with performance management to identify areas where the employee does not adequately meet the requirements of the position, has a skill gap, and therefore needs training.
• Total compensation – Understand and be able to communicate with employees the effect the job description has on compensation.
Customize McLean & Company’s training deck: Train Managers to write effective job descriptions to make content relevant to your requirements.
Commit to periodic review to prevent job descriptions from becoming misaligned or stale.
• At a minimum, review your job descriptions annually as part of the performance review.
• Job descriptions should also be reviewed after any major changes to ensure they align with the actual work requirements.