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Thinking Bigger Business: Job Descriptions – An Employer’s Best Friend

By Erica Brune | President

Imagine that you show up to your first day of work for a job you’ve always wanted. You meet with your human resources director and they hand you a paper that details everything your job entails and what your new company expects of you. You excitedly sign the paper without hesitation.

Fast forward a few weeks: You are in your supervisor’s office being reprimanded for not sending out weekly updates on your team’s progress. You explain that you didn’t know that was your responsibility, and that’s when your supervisor pulls out your signed job description and points to the section that discusses the task of weekly updates that is assigned to you. Your heart sinks and you realize that you should have fully read and asked questions about what was being given to you before signing it.

This is a small example of how important job descriptions can be to the employee and employer. It sets the stage for the basis of your employment and outlines what your company expects out of your work performance.

The importance of job descriptions

Many times, employers overlook the importance of a complete and accurate job description. In the grand scheme of running a business, job descriptions may not fall very high on your list of priorities, but to an employee, a job description will make it easier for them to be successful in their role and to set realistic expectations.

For both employers and employees, accurate job descriptions provide ease in the hiring process because it gives the minimum requirements that are needed to fill a role; they also make job posts simpler to develop during the recruiting process. After the hiring process, job descriptions can be used as the basis for performance assessments to see if an employee is outperforming in their current role and the potential for growth in that employee. On the flip side, it can also show an employee who may be underperforming and need assistance in mentorship.

Keeping your company compliant

As rules and regulations continue to change, audits by the Department of Labor (DOL) have risen.  Compliant job descriptions help to eliminate the possibility of misclassifying employees and putting your company at risk for DOL violations. It is a good idea to review all your job descriptions annually to ensure you are accurately classifying your employees and staying compliant with the DOL.

Along with strengthening DOL compliance, job descriptions can also assist in equal pay analysis situations where pay gaps may be present. Job content, not title, is what determines whether jobs are substantially equal and therefore deserve equal pay. Updated job descriptions make it easier to analyze pay and ensure equality laws are being upheld.

A guide for your job descriptions

Employees like to know what to expect from their job and how they can be successful. One easy step in making this happen is to provide an accurate and complete job description that helps them stay consistent and aware of what is being asked of them.

If you are starting from scratch, a job description can seem daunting, but here is what a standard job description should include:

  • Job title – name of position
  • summary – an overview that includes the most important functions of the role
  • Reports to – title of the position this job reports to
  • Position type and expected hours of work– Is this job a part-time or full-time position? What are the typical work hours and shifts?
  • Specific job functions – essential functions, including how an individual is to perform them and the frequency with 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
  • Supervisory responsibilities – direct reports, if any, and the level of supervision
  • Additional responsibilities – These responsibilities may not be essential to the role, but are still part of the job, such as keeping their work area clean.
  • Classification – such as exempt or nonexempt
  • Work environment – temperature, noise level, indoors or outdoors, etc.
  • Physical demands – the physical demands of the job, including bending, sitting, lifting and driving
  • Travel requirements – percentage of travel time expected for the position, where the travel occurs, such as locally or in specific countries or states, and whether the travel is overnight
  • Required education and experience – education or experience based on requirements that are job-related and consistent with business necessity
  • Preferred education and experience – preferred education and experience based on requirements that are job-related and consistent with business necessity
  • Additional eligibility qualifications – additional requirements such as certifications, industry-specific experience and experience working with certain equipment
  • Affirmative Action Plan/Equal Employment Opportunity (AAP/EEO) – clauses that outline  federal contractor requirements and practices and/or equal opportunity statement
  • Disclaimer – It is always a good idea to include a disclaimer regarding the scope of job duties.
  • Employee sign-off – A complete job description should include an employee signature and date, acknowledging that the employee has reviewed and understands all elements of the job.

 It’s important that companies use job descriptions as a way to help guide employees down a path of success. Job descriptions help to eliminate a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings that come from not having an accurate set of expectations.

Not only do job descriptions make the employee feel safe knowing they are aware of their responsibilities, but job descriptions also help employers stay compliant and provide ease in their management.