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Do Job Descriptions Really Add Value?

Competitive business requires that we keep our skills, technologies and processes efficient and up-to-date. We strive to make sure that we are in-front of client demands and setting the trend in what the market wants. We are driven to improve and keep improving… that is until we bring up job descriptions. Job descriptions are often the one document that can be ten years old and no one is motivated or concerned with updating it.

Job DescriptionJob descriptions always fall to the bottom of the priority list because who really is looking at them and what value do they really add, right? Wrong. Job descriptions can have significant implications in business and outdated ones create unnecessary risk. It can be easy to forget why job descriptions exist and what they do for the company and its employees.

Consider this. If you are hiring for a new position in your company how do you communicate to the new hire what the position entails, why it exists, what skills and education are needed, or what physical requirements are necessary? Job descriptions provide a connection for the new hire to see how they contribute to the company and why their position matters. This is a key motivating factor for adults.

Let’s take this a step further and say you have someone who applies for the position that has a disability. How are you going to determine if you can accommodate their disability without having an updated version of the position and its requirements? Trying to clearly define a position at the time of screening a disabled applicant will not only complicate the process but could cause you to place a higher value on aspects that in reality aren’t as pervasive as they initially appear. This same logic holds true with employees who are injured at work or develop a disability. How will you determine what accommodations you can provide to the employee if you don’t have an updated description? Job descriptions that are incomplete and outdated only leave room for:

  • Claims of discrimination,
  • Extensive administrative procedures with accommodations, and
  • Increased risk for making hiring decisions based on outdated skill needs.

Job descriptions don’t just help with these proactive protections. They also serve as a baseline for position advancement programs and competitive salary range analysis. As the job market becomes more competitive and new generations enter the workforce, having clearly defined career paths and competitive salary ranges will need to be top priorities. When you have clearly defined, updated job descriptions, you will be ready to:

  • Analyze the competitiveness of your salary ranges for each position,
  • Develop criteria for succession planning, and
  • Launch career progression and skill development programs.

All of these aspects can help keep newer generations engaged.

Take time today to update your job descriptions regularly. Build a plan to get it done over the next several months or a year so your company can be proactively prepared. This will also establish a launching pad to develop internal programs that attract and retain top talent so that your business remains competitive.

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