Are Your Job Descriptions Doing Their Jobs?

Raffa Financial ServicesRaffa Financial Services on 07/02/2018

A great job description performs several important functions. It provides appropriate criteria for new hires, structure for current employees, and a basis for conducting performance reviews. And yet how many of us have worked in positions with ridiculously outdated, inadequate or non-existent job description?

Yep. Pretty much all of us.

Job descriptions are a key tool in your HR box. Why not sharpen them up and put them to work?

The benefits

Having solid job descriptions in place will perform several important functions:

  • Attract the right candidates
  • Define appropriate hiring criteria
  • Communicate roles and expectations
  • Identify areas for training and development
  • Provide structure for new hires and current employees
  • Build a framework for performance management and compensation

If someone offered you an easy system for accomplishing all of these things, you’d probably jump at it. So why do so many of us let our job descriptions slide?

The challenges

One of the things that gets in the way of accurate job descriptions is actually something pretty exciting: growth. This can happen at the organizational and individual levels.

When business is booming, we tend to focus on production over process. We expand our teams rapidly, convincing ourselves we don’t have time to document all of the details, and that we’ll get to it later.

Meanwhile, when we hire awesome people, they tend to grow their positions as well. Once they have the basic job down, they want to start learning new skills and taking on more responsibilities. This kind of professional growth can keep the team happy, but it can leave individual job descriptions looking pretty sad.

HR Managers may also be sad when the time comes to fill a position that no longer has an accurate description attached to it.

Keeping up to date

If regularly updating job descriptions isn’t making it to the top of your weekly to-do list, try conducting a yearly job analysis for each position in your organization.

As a busy HR person, this idea might sound overwhelming. But don’t worry. By no means do you have to analyze all of your positions at once!

A more manageable approach would be to use employee anniversary dates as a guide. With each passing year, ask each employee a few key questions about their job functions and how they may have changed.

Examples of Job Analysis Questions:

  • What are your major job responsibilities?
  • Which of these things take up most of your time?
  • Has anything changed in the last year?
    • New tasks?
    • Tasks you are no longer responsible for?
  • Which of these responsibilities are most critical? Least critical?
  • What specific skills and tools do you need to be good at your job?
  • What education and/or personal qualities are necessary to be successful in this role?

Instituting a regular job description review process will help you maintain an accurate record of each position in your organization, and establish the skills you need to look for when recruiting and hiring employees. The bonus here is that you can also tie this exercise in with any self-evaluation and/or performance management processes you have in place.

If your company is looking for ways to increase employee engagement, you may also want to consider integrating these yearly job analysis check-ins as part of a stay interview program. Stay interviews are a good way to have career conversations and get valuable feedback from employees while they are on staff— instead of waiting until an exit interview is needed.

Help your job descriptions help you

Now is the perfect time to ask yourself, "Are our job descriptions working for us or against us?"

If they aren’t pulling their weight, it’s time to get to work. Once you develop job descriptions that are well-written, accurate, and up to date, they'll deliver.


There’s so much more to employee benefits than policies and premiums. A great benefits broker will make sure you, your employees, and your business are protected. Is your agent looking out for you?


Photo by DeGe

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