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EFFECTIVE JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Job descriptions describe the major duties and responsibilities of a position or job and are an essential part of hiring and managing employees. They are tools to help your applicants and employees understand their roles and accountabilities. They can be used to establish a training checklist for new incumbents, as guideposts in the performance appraisal process, and as market benchmarks for compensation surveys. Job descriptions are not required by law, however, they can provide evidence of the essential functions of a job for purposes of complying with federal employment laws. They can also be used for disability and worker’s compensation claims. It’s good practice to get legal advice to ensure that your job descriptions are compliant. Below are some of the legal requirements to keep in mind while writing your job descriptions.

• Fair labor standards Act (FLSA): Exempt or Non-exempt classification should be included in all job descriptions.

• Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Working conditions and any required physical activity should be noted in all job descriptions.

• Equal Employment Opportunity: Include, “we are an equal opportunity employer” in all job descriptions.

• Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA): Job descriptions should not indicate age preference.

The first steps in writing job descriptions are the data collection and job analysis processes which begin with questionnaires and/or interviews with both the supervisors and current employee incumbents to gather and determine the key facts about the job. You will need to collect information that will later be summarized in your job description template. Generally, the data will include Job Title, Immediate Supervisor, Department, Pay Grade, Working Hours, and Travel Requirements, FLSA Status, Mission/Summary, Essential and Non-Essential Tasks and Responsibilities, Supervisory Responsibility, Job Requirements (education, skills and experience required for the job), Working Conditions, Physical Demands, Equipment Usage, and Disclaimer for Management Ability to Modify.

A job description should be practical and summarize the key elements of a job in a clear, concise manner. Be specific and avoid using subjective adverbs or adjectives such as “frequently,” “some,” “occasional,” and “several.” It’s important to build flexibility into a job description and ensure that it is dynamic and functional. Flexible job descriptions will allow your employees to evolve within their positions as processes, technology, and organizational changes occur. A well-written job description will require an investment of time and effort to accurately reflect your organization and unique jobs.

The duties list should contain each essential job duty or responsibility that is critical to the successful performance of the job. The list should be prioritized with the most important listed first down to the least significant. Do not include tasks that comprise less than 5 percent of the overall time. Each Essential and Non-Essential Duty should be assigned a percentage of time and all duties together should total 100 percent. Each duty should be described in one to three sentences; the first sentence should begin with an action verb. Generally, there are one or two non-essential duties that total five to ten percent of the total time and are duties such as “Assist in special projects as required” or “Any other task assigned by the supervisor.” This provides flexibility to change duties over time and captures occasional and unforeseen needs that arise.

At WageWatch our experienced compensation consultants can assist with your organization’s compensation needs. We can help you ensure internal equity and compliance with regulations as well as help you structure your compensation programs to support your company’s business strategy and objectives. WageWatch also offers accurate, up-to-date benefit survey data, market compensation data and salary reports that will allow you to stay current with the times. This information is highly beneficial in creating the best salary and benefits packages that meet or rival the industry standards. For more information on our services, including consulting, salary survey data, benefit survey data and market compensation reports, please call WageWatch at 888-330-9243 or contact us online.