As a manager or business owner creating job descriptions is typically not one of the things that is on the top of your to do list. Even for Human Resources professionals, the development of job descriptions typically seems like a daunting task that keeps getting put off and moved down the list of priorities. What we don’t realize is that job descriptions are a crucial part of business success. This document provides an employee a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, it provides a job applicant the information about a vacant position and provides clarification to the other members of the team on who is responsible for what tasks therefore creating a good workflow of business. But not only is a job description a great resource for explaining roles and responsibilities, it is also a resource for organizations to stay in compliance and protect their business from legal exposure.

Other than serving as a tool for identifying roles & responsibilities and communicating duties & tasks, there are three main uses for a job description that are more geared towards serving as a compliance tool. These are the following:

  1. Performance Management
    • Because the job description outlines the roles and responsibilities of that position, when this document is provided to an employee, they now have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in that role. They can use the information in the job description to perform their job as per company requirements. It also allows them to ask questions about any of the specific duties in the document they might be unsure about and provides a chance for the employee to give any feedback on updates that might be needed in the document. Once the employee and employer have an understanding of what is expected and an updated job description is provided, managers can use the job description to manage the performance of that employee.  This way when the employee performance is being discussed, whether yearly or quarterly, the employee is not surprised by what is being discussed and the manager is at ease because the discussion is based on a documented scope. Additionally, if you need to make a termination due to performance you have documented evidence that will support the decision of termination.
  2. Exempt of Nonexempt Classification
    • Because there needs to be a clear understanding of what that position is supposed to be doing and what the tasks and duties of that position are going to be when creating a job description, this evaluation process allows for a better understanding of where the position would land from an exempt or nonexempt classification.  Once you have made an outline of the roles & responsibilities of that position it makes it clearer to identify if any of those tasks and duties would fall under the classification of an exempt position or if the tasks and duties are robust enough to classify the position as nonexempt. Understanding this classification and how to determine this classification is extremely important because it relates to the pay structure of a position, and if done incorrectly can ultimately lead to a financial impact to the organization.  Understanding the method used to identify a position as exempt or not is valuable if you were to ever get audited or if questioned by an employee.
  3. Workers Compensation
    • An area where job descriptions can also be useful is when managing a workers compensation claim, which at times is an area that is overlooked. When you have an employee that gets hurt you want to make sure they receive the medical attention they need and send them for treatment immediately. Once you send that employee to get treated, one of the first things the workers compensation insurance carrier will request is a copy of the job description to ensure that the job duties the employee was performing are aligned with what they were responsible for doing. I have seen workers compensation claims denied or stalled because the job description of the position the employee held had nothing to do with the job, they were performing at the time they suffered their injuries. Not only this, having a job description will also allow you the opportunity to evaluate if the employee can return to work and perform 100% of the duties they had before or if there are opportunities for the employee to perform some light duty and return to work as swiftly as possible.

Job descriptions can serve as a great tool to support the areas mentioned above, however if not updated periodically the same job description can become an obstacle in being successful in any of these situations. Job descriptions, like your employee handbook, are documents that are not static and should be updated periodically. You do not need to update them all at once, which is what most people believe, nor do you need to update them every year. When you take this approach, the project becomes too daunting; which is why employers then typically end up not tackling the project at all.  

Job descriptions can be updated throughout time. One of my tips is to update the job description once an employee leaves or update them when you are making structure changes in staff, or maybe have a monthly schedule of updating one or two. The important thing is not to forget about them and keep them as current as possible, it will ultimately save your company time and money. Our team of professionals has years of experience with designing job descriptions and helping employers update them accordingly. For a free consultation in how we can support your organization with the creation, development and updating of your job description please click on the link below to schedule your session. You will be protecting your organization if you do so and even minimizing some of your risks.

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