Seven Reasons Up-to-Date Job Descriptions Are a Must

By Jeanette Coleman, SPHR & SHRM-SCP on Nov 07, 2019
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From business owners and management to HR and employees, the degree of people who depend on accurate, up-to-date job descriptions spans across your entire organization. Up-to-date job descriptions aid in determining appropriate compensation for employees, succession planning, recruiting the right employees, training and developing talent, ensuring effective performance management and safeguarding compliance. At the employee level, job descriptions help team members understand what is expected of them and help ensure they are on the right track.

An effective job description is a written statement based on the findings of a job analysis and identifies the tasks, duties, and responsibilities expected to be performed, as well as competencies required for an employee to be successful in a particular role within your organization.

Creating accurate job descriptions isn’t a once and done task at your business. In fact, when done right, job descriptions should be living documents that shift and change as frequently as your organization does. At the minimum, job descriptions should be updated once each year, but for businesses growing and evolving, updates may need to be made more frequently.

How to Write the Perfect Job Description

While there aren’t any state or federal laws requiring businesses to maintain up-to-date job descriptions, they are a useful business tool when it comes to compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and to establish minimum job qualifications to help protect from discrimination claims during the hiring process.

Here are seven reasons every organization should have up-to-date job descriptions:

  1. Recruiting

    If you’re relying on inaccurate job descriptions to recruit employees, you may find a hard time finding the right talent or may even be hiring the wrong people for the job. Effective job descriptions identify the set of skills and abilities required to perform the job, along with any environment pressures relevant to the position (i.e. outdoor work, heavy lifting, operating machinery). When the requirements are thoroughly laid out, it helps prevent the wrong candidates from applying in the first place.

  2. Determining Salary

    When considering a fair salary range for a given position, factors such as the candidate’s level of experience and skill set, your business’ location and the job description should all be taken into account. Another advantage of having accurate job descriptions, is they allow you to compare your organization’s salary ranges for positions to the competition. Websites like allow users to search through their database of similar job descriptions written by other organizations to see what is considered a fair salary for similar roles available at other companies.

  3. Ensuring Proper Performance Management

    As your organization grows, duties shift and change. For example, take an employee who has held the same job title for multiple years at your company. It is highly unlikely the tasks the individual performs today are the same duties from two years ago. Over time, new teams form, new positions are created, different services are offered and new technology is created which all work to change the way jobs are performed. Job descriptions address performance standards, work rules and serve as a valuable communication tool between managers and employees. They help guide the employee in his career while employed at your business and aid management in properly evaluating employee performance.

  4. Succession Planning

    A large part of succession planning is strategically hiring and training to fill talent gaps. But before companies can begin to think about succession planning, they need to fully understand the jobs at their organization. Accurate job descriptions, therefore, form the foundation for successful succession planning. 

    Related Reading: Business Succession Planning; Why it Should Be Your Top  Priority

  5. Determining ADA Reasonable Accommodations

    A thorough job description details what the employer considers to be the essential job functions. In order to be qualified for the position, the applicant must be able to perform those essential job functions. Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers may be asked to make reasonable accommodations (modifications or adjustments) to the job, the work environment or the way things are usually done during the hiring process to enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity to not only get the job but successfully perform their job duties. Up-to-date job descriptions serve as a starting point for the essential duties and reasonable accommodations conversation. 

  6. Describing Legitimate Minimum Qualifications

    Certain qualifications, such as a commercial driver’s license, a particular academic degree or a negative drug test, required to start the job should be clearly stated upfront. That way, if the individual seeking the position doesn’t hold the minimum qualifications, grounds for discrimination claims on behalf of the individual denied the position can be avoided.

  7. Justifying Exemption Status

    In order for a job description to serve as a valuable tool when determining exemption status under applicable wage and hours laws, it must accurately reflect job duties relevant to determining exemption status. For example, according to SHRM, “ ... if you claim a person is exempt from minimum wage, timekeeping and overtime requirements under the “executive” exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the job description must state which department the employee manages and that the individual regularly supervises at least two or more full-time equivalent employees every week.” Additionally, all other managerial duties should also be included in the job description.

    Related Reading: Job Titles Alone Don't Determine Who's Exempt from Overtime Pay

At Axcet HR Solutions, our HR consultants are highly experienced in the most up-to-date recruiting, hiring and retention strategies, including writing compliant job descriptions, utilizing a state-of-the-art applicant tracking system, customizing offer letters, providing interviewing questions and training, onboarding new hires and performing background checks and drug screening. For more information, contact us here.

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