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Job Descriptions – Why is a good job description so important?


When was the last time your organization reviewed the job descriptions of your staff? Have the jobs changed since the last review and if so, were those changes noted? In the evolving workplace, can anyone say their jobs have never changed? Simply adding new technology can have an effect on an employee’s job description.


What makes a good job description and why is it so important? From the employer’s perspective, a detailed job description sets out the qualifications for the position, the responsibilities of the job and the reporting structure. For the employee, it defines their duties and gives them the direction needed to perform their job with confidence.


When creating a new job, there are a number of factors to take into consideration. For example, accurately defining what duties are performed by the employee on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis. What skills or training is required by the employee to do the job successfully such as computer or mathematical abilities? Does the employee require any prior experience to perform the job or is it an entry level position? Does the position require the employee to use their judgement to make decisions or are those decisions outside their scope of work?


Other factors to consider when developing an accurate job description will include an employee’s responsibility for supervising others, who are their contacts, for example, sales persons, clients, the general public or employees in other departments. Are they responsible for the safety of others and are they subject to disagreeable working conditions not limited to the physical environment but also to verbal or physical abuse?


When it comes time to review an existing job description, it is important to get input from the employee performing the job. Using a job analysis questionnaire can help focus the employee on the work they do. It is easy to miss some of the tasks performed simply because they are so routine.


Having an accurate, current job description ensures new hires are well informed of their duties and responsibilities. For the employer, your obligations under pay equity or job accommodation should it be required due to injury or illness are more easily met.