That’s not my job

Did You Know series continued…

Did You Know…Why Job Descriptions are so important?

When was the last time you updated your job descriptions for your key people? A job description is the first piece of the recruiting-interviewing-hiring puzzle and the key to a good hire and a good employee. Written properly, a job description should specify essential job functions, the knowledge, skills and abilities required of the position, as well as the physical/environment conditions of the job.

In general, job descriptions serve in four capacities:

  • Recruiting — defines what you’re looking for
  • Interviewing — helps determine the right candidate
  • Performance Evaluations — gives you something to evaluate against
  • Coaching and Employee Development — assists in getting the employee back on track

From the employee’s perspective, a job description serves as a valuable tool to truly understand what is expected of him or her. From the employer’s perspective, it clarifies what the job entails and more importantly… what it doesn’t.

A very important component in a job description is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as Amended. Job descriptions must include essential job functions for the position. What exactly do we mean by essential job functions? We mean the basic tasks of the position that are required. By listing them, along with the physical/environment conditions of the position, it gives the employer the ability to accept or reject reasonable accommodations for candidates with disabilities. Accurate job descriptions may also be useful in providing a defense against charges of employment discrimination.

Another key component in the job description is that it focuses on the result or outcome of the job function, not just on the way it is routinely performed. A practical modification may enable a person with a disability to accomplish a job function in a manner that is different from the way an employee who is not disabled may accomplish the same function. So it shouldn’t focus on the process, rather the expected result.

Flexibility in job descriptions is also key. Consider creating a more encompassing job description that emphasizes expectations and responsibilities, rather than specific tasks — which will help encourage employees to focus on results rather than job duties. A more wide-ranging job description is also easier to maintain — it doesn’t require revisions to be made with every minor change in duties.



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