The importance of job descriptions
Hiring employees with no job description in place for their role could potentially lead to reduced productivity as the new recruit will feel unprepared in carrying out their duties and require extra training to succeed in their role. A detailed written description outlining exactly what a certain role requires can be effective in guiding both managers and their subordinates in their daily duties, whilst managing expectations and minimising any potential risks with regards to employment legislation and discrimination. If you are looking to fill a vacancy within your organisation, you will need to carefully consider the content of the job description in order to attract the best candidates so they will know exactly what they can expect from the role and how to impress at the interviewing stage.
According to new research published by a global management consultancy, Hay Group, a poor job description is a significant contributor to staff turnover in organisations of all sizes across the UK. The research stated that 51% of HR managers believe poor job descriptions can mislead employee expectations, resulting in them being a poor fit and ultimately driving them to leave their organisation. A consultant from Hay Group stated that “the lack of clarity is demotivating for individuals and affects engagement as well as loyalty to the organisation. This has a knock on effect for teams, which are much more likely to perform when each member has an accurate picture of their role.”
5 things to consider when writing an effective, concise job description:
- Job title – this is the first fundamental element of the job description. An accurate job title reflects the nature of the job and the duties being performed. It needs to be generic enough that it can be compared to similar jobs in the industry for the purposes of equity in pay and conditions
- Duties – the job description should contain a list of the key duties and responsibilities associated with the role. Descriptions of each duty should be no more than two or three sentences long and should be outcome-based, containing an action, object and purpose. Being too descriptive could result in employees saying ‘that’s not in my job description’ and refuse to carry out certain tasks.
- Skills and Competencies – These should be listed separately from each other as they are two different things. Skills are the activities the individual can perform based on what they have learned in the past while competencies are the traits or attributes the individual will be expected to display in their role.
- Relationships – You should always include reporting lines and working relationships within the job description. Reporting lines clarify the responsibilities of the position, detailing who the individual should report to and who will report to them, if necessary. Working relationships outline if the individual will be working closely with another individual or as part of a team
- Salary – In order to attract good candidates when recruiting, if possible, you should offer salary ranges competitive with similar positions in other organisations, this allows for variations in education and experience. This would need to be updated for employees in line with any salary increases during their employment.