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August 02, 2018
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Think Job Descriptions Aren't Important - Think Again
Think Job Descriptions Aren't Important - Think Again

Job descriptions may be one of the most important ingredients for an organization’s success. They are the first step in aligning a company’s vision, culture and values to the talent, skills and abilities needed to fill critical roles. Job descriptions lay the foundation for determining why a position exists, the value it holds within an organization and where it fits within the organization’s hierarchy. Job descriptions also serve a formal document for communicating performance requirements, expectations and responsibilities associated with a position to a current or prospective employee. Below are a few reasons job descriptions are so important:

1- Well written job descriptions assist with regulatory compliance for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The ADA provides the right to work to any individual that can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions (EEOC) is charged with the responsibility of enforcing ADA requirements and relies on the employer’s job descriptions to review and determine compliance. The EEOC also advises employers that the focus of the job description should be around the purpose of the function and the results or expected outcomes, rather than the manner in which the function is presently or traditionally performed.
2- The primary responsibilities and duties outlined in the job description assist with determining the position’s FLSA classification as non-exempt or exempt. In general, the FLSA requires non-exempt employees be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 per week.
3- Job descriptions with clearly defined roles and responsibilities allow employers to attract and recruit the right talent, manage performance expectations, and conduct external job comparisons to determine a position’s value and compensation.

Job descriptions can quickly become outdated. An excellent best practice is to develop an annual process for evaluating job content and revising job descriptions. This process may include gathering information directly from employees through interviews, sending out questionnaires and surveys, or direct observation. It is often the case that the individual in the position performing the work is more knowledgeable about the duties and responsibilities of the job than their direct supervisor. Annual performance reviews are also a great opportunity to gather feedback from employees and make any needed revisions to job descriptions.

Finally, make sure any work environment, conditions, physical requirements and mental demands are captured in the job description. Once the job description is complete or revised, share it with the employee, provide an acknowledgment of receipt for the employee to sign and date, and place a copy of the job description acknowledgment in their personnel file. A job description with clearly outlined roles, responsibilities and expectations is the foundation for effective performance management. While the process may be time consuming, it is more than worth the return on investment.