Job Descriptions a Must!

By Holly Ormsbee

Human resources (HR) has begun receiving recognition for being an integral component for organizational success. Businesses realize to stay competitive they need to ensure their employees are well-organized and effectively managed. HR provides some of the necessary tools enabling a company to achieve competence. A key tool in HR is a properly formatted job description. Job descriptions (JD’s) provide information critical for managing employees, for complying with a number of legal obligations, and allowing employees to understand their duties and responsibilities.

Often organizations lack formal JD's. Some reasons may include believing they are unnecessary, or not knowing how to initiate the process. In order to develop a job description, it is critical to start by researching the position and gaining an understanding of the essential components required to perform the job.

A properly structured JD includes the following elements:

  • The Job title
  • Summary of the position (a couple of brief sentences listing the key purpose of the position)
  • List of the essential duties and responsibilities, including a statement the employer may require the employee to occasionally perform other tasks not listed in the JD.
  • The job specifications should also be included, such as:
  1.  The prerequisites or required education, experience, knowledge, skills etc.
  2.  Personal aptitudes required of the individual (i.e. detail-oriented, creative,  interpersonal skills, etc.)
  3.  Type of environment the job takes place in.

Job descriptions offer the requisite information for conducting job evaluations, implementing a Pay Equity Plan (PE), recruiting and selecting new staff, performing compensation analysis and monitoring and conducting performance evaluations. JD's  also supply the necessary information allowing company's to investigate and develop current positions, and to identify potential future opportunities – workforce planning.

To demonstrate the importance of having a properly structured JD let’s examine a specific example of how JDs support the successful operation of the HR function. For example consider how JDs assist in the development of PE Plans - an organization’s legal obligation, if they have more than 10 employees.  To establish a PE Plan an organization must examine all of the positions held by its employees. The positions are divided into “male” or “female” oriented job classifications and then compared across four major factors, listed below:

1. The skills required to perform the job
2. The effort required to perform the job
3. The job responsibilities
4. The working conditions associated with the job

Details of the PE factors should be included in the composition of a JD in order to support the successful implementation of a compliant PE plan.

Once you have effectively researched the requirements and compiled the information into a professionally formatted job description, it is important to keep the JD, which is a key component of the backbone of the organization, up to date and on file! Having this information on hand will save any company time, money and frustration in the long run, and promote positive employee relations, both of which directly contribute to the success of any organization.

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