In researching the Small Business Administration’s website to get a better feel for how they suggest a business gets started, there were many references on how to write a business plan but virtually nothing on how to create the people plan. You may be wondering what the people plan is. It is an organization’s template for how they will create a great workplace that is positioned for growth through their people practices—how they will recruit, motivate and retain the best talent while complying with state and federal laws. One of the cornerstones of a great workplace practice is well-written job descriptions.
The value of job descriptions is extraordinary when they are used to their full potential. Many organizations with job descriptions don’t value them enough because they aren’t aware of their many uses. Below are a few key considerations:
Wage and Salary Administration
Job descriptions are especially valuable in the following compensation-related activities:
- Job evaluation. The job description makes it possible to evaluate one job in relation to others. Determining a job’s worth to the organization is not only important in developing an equitable wage and salary structure, but also in determining employee benefits and bonuses that relate employee performance to the performance of the company.
- Pay structure. An equitable pay structure means that jobs are rewarded according to their contributions toward the achievement of organizational goals. Before each job’s contribution can be evaluated, however, its content must be accurately described.
- Performance appraisal. While performance appraisal enables managers and supervisors to make decisions in many areas other than compensation, the link between describing the job and developing appropriate performance standards cannot be overlooked. These performance standards, in turn, are critical factors when it comes to evaluating an employee’s readiness for raises, promotions, etc.
Changes in employment legislation have been almost constant in recent years, and new issues are always being tried in the courts. In addition to the ADA, some of the laws that affect job descriptions are:
- Fair Labor Standards Act. This law is familiar territory for most employers, but revisions in some of the Department of Labor regulations have forced employers to take a second look at its impact. For example, there has been some redefinition of who is “exempt” and who is “nonexempt.” Job descriptions are often used as supporting documents when it comes to establishing a job’s exempt status.
- Equal Pay Act. The job description should clearly identify the level of skill, effort and responsibility required by the job, as well as the conditions under which it is performed.
- Title Vll of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to hiring, compensation, or other terms, conditions and privileges of employment because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It does not prohibit an employer from hiring or promoting on the basis of qualifications and merit. The job description defines the requirements of the job and sets the standards for job performance, both of which are crucial considerations in such cases.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act. Many job descriptions have a section that discusses working conditions, especially when these conditions are considered uncomfortable or dangerous
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act. The job specifications section of the job description, which states what the job requires of the jobholder in terms of education or work experience, skills, physical characteristics, personal characteristics, etc., should not discriminate on the basis of age unless there is a valid reason for doing so.
Human Resources Planning
There is probably no better tool when it comes to human resources planning than a well-written set of job descriptions. Consider:
- Staff planning. Job descriptions help in pinpointing staffing requirement gaps, as well as in identifying overstaffing or superfluous positions.
- Employment. Accurate job descriptions are invaluable sources of information during the entire employment process, from job posting to recruiting and screening, to hiring and placement. They make recruiting and screening more efficient, and they are vital in spelling out the job requirements to achieve a good match between the candidate’s qualifications and the job’s demands.
- Orientation. The importance of orientation and adjustment to a new job can’t be overstated. A newly hired worker with an accurate, well-written job description to review and analyze has received a good introduction to the job and is able to understand more fully what the company and the supervisor expect.
While the thought of generating job descriptions may seem daunting, there are many resources available to make the job easier. The time and energy invested up front will make business growth more manageable in the long run. iBi