A job description is a useful tool that describes the tasks, duties, functions and responsibilities of a position. It outlines who performs a specific task, how that task is to be completed, and the purpose of the task.
Job descriptions are used in recruiting, determining salary levels, conducting performance reviews, and legal requirements for reasonable accommodations, establishing light duty work and unemployment claims.
Although job descriptions are not legally required, they are important for compliance with federal and state labor and employment laws. They are also useful in retaining employees when used for career/succession planning and training programs. A job description gives an employee a clear and concise resource to be used as a guide for job performance and to advance through the company. Likewise, a supervisor can use a job description as a measuring tool to ensure that the employee is meeting job expectations.
Design your job descriptions by following these 5 steps.
Step 1: Perform a Job Analysis by determining the performance standards
This step of gathering and analyzing the individual job tasks will provide accurate information regarding the employee’s day-to-day tasks. Start by observing the employee performing daily tasks. Then interview high performing employees to find out exactly how they perform those tasks. You can also have employees complete a questionnaire or collect data from other resources. Document the knowledge, skills, and environmental factors associated with this job. Review your results with an employee who is currently in this position as well as the supervisor for any changes that may need to be modified. Finally, list all the routine tasks performed in this position using the key areas below:
- Knowledge—facts, information or skills acquired by experience or education
- Skills—ability to perform an observable action that results in a recognizable outcome
- Physical characteristics—the physical attributes an employee must have to perform the task with or without a reasonable accommodation
- Environmental factors—working conditions (inside or outside the office)
- Credentials/experience—the minimum level of education, experience and certifications acceptable for the position
Step 2: Establish the Essential Functions
Once the routine tasks for a particular job have been identified, the essential functions of the position must be defined. This will provide a consistent determination for evaluating Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation requests.
Key areas to include are:
- Determine the frequency and time spent performing each task
- Define the consequences of not performing a task and if it would be detrimental to the operation or result in severe consequences
- Determine if the tasks can be modified or performed in another manner
- Determine if the tasks could be reassigned to another employee temporarily and/or permanently
- Ensure that the tasks are truly necessary to complete the job
Once the functions are defined, make a determination as to whether each function is essential or secondary. The use of the term “essential function” should be part of the job description. This will declare whether the job can be performed with or without an accommodation.
Step 3: Structure your Job Descriptions
The structure of the job description may vary from company to company. However, it is helpful if all job descriptions within the same company are in a consistent and unified format such as the format below:
- Job title—name of the position
- Classification—exempt or nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Salary grade/level—compensation levels, including minimum and maximum pay bands
- Reports to—title of the position this job reports directly to
- Summary/objective—summary and overall objectives of the job
- Essential functions—essential functions, including how an individual is to perform them and frequency at which the tasks are performed; the tasks must be part of the job function and truly necessary or required to perform the job
- Competency—knowledge, skills and abilities to fully complete job
- Supervisory responsibilities—list number of direct reports, if any
- Work environment—the work environment; temperature, noise level, inside or outside, or other factors
- Physical demands—the physical demands of the job, including bending, sitting, lifting and driving.
- Position type and expected hours of work—full time or part time, typical work hours and shifts
- Travel—percentage of travel time expected for the position
- Required education and experience—education and experience based on requirements that are job-related
- Preferred education and experience—preferred education and experience based on requirements that are job-related
- Affirmative action plan/equal employer opportunity (AAP/EEO) statement—clause(s) that outlines federal contractor requirements and practices and/or equal employer opportunity statement
- Other duties—disclaimer, i.e. “Other duties, responsibilities and activities may be assigned as needed.”
Step 4: Employee and Supervisor Signatures
Signatures are an important part of validating the job description. They show that the job description has been approved and that the employee understands the requirements, essential functions and duties of the position. Signatures should include the supervisor and the employee.
Step 5: Final Job Descriptions
Final job descriptions should be kept in the employee’s electronic or paper file as well as in a central data base. Copies should be used for job postings, interviews, accommodation requests, compensation reviews and performance appraisals. Revisions should be stored in the same data base and clearly identified as a revision (i.e. Rev. 9/2018) Be sure to revisit and evaluate your job descriptions annually to keep current on modifications and changes in the day-to-day tasks that happen throughout the year.
AccuPay’s Human Capital Management system can assist you in storing these documents and keep you organized. AccuPay HR Consulting is another great resource to guide you through this process as well. Call Kristy Baird at 317-885-7600 to schedule an in-depth look into your job descriptions.