The first two weeks of January, 2016 are behind us. Many resolutions have been made, both personal and professional, in the hopes of making our lives healthier, happier and more organized. As you set off to tackle these resolutions, I would suggest an additional one that will have the same impact on your employees and organization – update the job descriptions for all of your employees.
Job descriptions play an integral role within an organization. They set expectations, goals and objectives, are crucial as recruiting tools and help potential candidates and all employees to clearly understand the responsibilities for their position within the organization. However, what I’ve discovered over the years is that too often job descriptions are only updated when a vacancy needs to be filled or there are compliance issues.
In today’s hectic and ever changing business environment, roles and responsibilities are constantly changing. New technology, organizational processes and procedures, and increases and decreases in staffing, all have an impact on a job function and expectation. It is essential that job descriptions are reviewed and evaluated on a regular basis to ensure that both employee and employer understand the exact parameters of each position and how it impacts the overall organization.
During 2015, HR Advisors Group assisted several clients with their review of organizational job descriptions and career paths in several different capacities. During these engagements, we offer three paths to our clients to update their job descriptions by taking into account the number of employees, the size of the HR staff and the resources available to the individual organization.
- Have supervisors and employees update job descriptions during employee reviews
- Charge HR with the responsibility to review and update all current job descriptions
- Outsource the responsibility for job description review and updating to a consultant
Let’s take a quick look at each option and examine the benefits and shortcomings inherent to each.
Have supervisors and employees update job descriptions during employee reviews – This is an excellent opportunity to go directly to the source. The employee has the chance to review and discuss in detail all responsibilities associated with the position and identify any changes that have occurred in the last year. The supervisor can examine these responsibilities and make appropriate changes. The disadvantage to this approach is that often reviews can be a delicate conversation and there isn’t enough time to discuss job descriptions as they have to address immediate concerns with an employee’s performance.
Charge HR with the responsibility to review and update all current job descriptions – Today’s HR professionals are familiar with creating comprehensive job descriptions and career paths. Their involvement ensures that they contain language that meets all legal requirements. This option does require HR to connect with employees and supervisors to confirm any adjustments to the job description due to organizational changes in processes and technology. This option can require significant resources dependent on the size of the organization. In addition, the timeliness of completing the initiative will be dependent on the other responsibilities competing for the HR representative’s time. A solution would be to make this a “goal” for the individual HR representative or HR Department.
Outsource the responsibility for job description review and update to a consultant – When the size of the organization and the time requirements for a thorough review of job descriptions require more time and resources than is available internally, working with an outside consultant is often a fiscally sound option for reviewing job descriptions. A competent, outside HR consultant will have deep experience with writing job descriptions that contain the legal language necessary for a comprehensive description. The consultant will be able to review current organizational processes and procedures and identify positions where they will need to be updated. After an initial review of the job descriptions, the HR consultant can meet with employees to confirm any changes or additions to the job requirements. Upon completion of the updated job descriptions, the HR consultant can review the changes with a member of the HR Department for accuracy.
Regardless of which option is chosen, it is vital for any organization to go through a periodic review of job descriptions. This exercise will ensure that all job descriptions are accurate and that the current and future needs of the organization are met.