HR & Employment Law Insights

Helping family businesses, start-ups, charities, social enterprises, and other growing or established businesses throughout the UK make sense of HR and Employment Law challenges.

In this weeks question of the week, Emma Baker answers "What are the benefits of a job description?"

Question

What are the benefits of a job description?

Answer

Having job descriptions in place is a good start to avoiding being in a situation where your employees are not fulfilling their duties. A job description helps set clear expectations with your employees at the outset of their employment about what is expected of them.

It all starts with when you are recruiting staff, as your job advert needs to clearly outline what the job entails and what you need the person to be able to do so that both you and the applicants understand the job role.  You can, therefore, use this are the starting place for your job description, as the outline details which define a person’s role and accountability are already there.

If you’ve already got your staff in place but don’t have job descriptions, you can involve your employees in compiling their job description, this is good as it will help to clarify expectations between you both.

The process of writing job descriptions is actually quite easy and straight-forward.  Start off with a list of tasks, and then refine this to focus on a summary of key tasks of around 8-12 points.  For our smaller clients we recognise that staff may cover a wider or mixed range of duties and responsibilities, therefore you may need more points, circa 15-16 – try to avoid anything longer, as this can become less effective.

A good job description should enable anyone who reads the document to have a clear understanding of the purpose, duties and responsibilities of that job.

With job descriptions in place, your employees will be clear as to what is expected of them.  Without a job description in place, it can be difficult for your employee to be held accountable for their role.

Job descriptions will help improve your ability to manage your staff in the following ways:

  • provides you with an essential reference tool in issues of disputes with your employees
  • provides you with a key point of reference for disciplinary issues
  • clarifies your expectations of your employees
  • provides you with a basis of measuring job performance and carrying our performance reviews
  • provides you with a structure to ensure that the necessary activities, duties and responsibilities of your business are covered by one job or another
  • provides continuity of understanding of a job role irrespective of who is doing the job or managing your staff
  • provides you with important reference points for any training and development areas

If you have job descriptions in place and have set clear expectations for your employees, and you subsequently find that your employee is not fulfilling their duties you can refer back to the job description and, having first investigated why this is happening, you are then well equipped to engage in the formal disciplinary process for poor performance.

Here at the HR Booth, we have the experience and skills to help make this as easy as it sounds for you and your business, from helping you recruit your staff to help you to ensure that your employees are doing the jobs you are paying them to do.