BY CHRISTINA DAVIS
You probably have a professional job title, but what is your personal life title? Mine is Director of Care for Chez Davis. What duties are required for a Director of Care? Cooking, cleaning, tutoring, teaching, wifing (is that even a word?), driving, listening, appreciating, reminding, nagging—and that doesn’t even scratch the surface of my role as a wife and mother.
As hard as it is to quantify a personal life role, it can be just as difficult to create effective job descriptions for employees. Before we discuss the “whys” of a job description, let’s first discuss the “whats.” There are a few basic but essential elements that comprise a properly created job description. Along with the title of the position and the employee’s name, the reporting manager’s title, department, and FLSA designation (exempt or non-exempt) should be listed. The LMC Group strongly suggests adding the company mission statement to job descriptions, as it’s a formal summary of the company’s goals and values. Including your mission statement on documents such as the handbook, compensation packages, performance appraisals, and improvement plans is not required, but it reminds your team of the common goals everyone should strive to achieve.
The next section of the job description should include a brief summary of the position, along with a listing of its major responsibilities and duties. A brief chauffeur summary might look like: “It is the primary responsibility of the chauffeur to provide courteous and professional services to our client.” Include key responsibilities, like customer service, researching trip information prior to a scheduled ride, maintaining clean and safe vehicles, and consistent punctuality. For positions that include responsibilities in various departments, adding statements such as, “Assist in other areas of the company as needed” or “Other projects as assigned” is a great way to ensure you cover all the possible variations in their work.
Including knowledge, skills, and experience (like education, certification, and licensure requirements) is also important, as these are the parameters a potential employee needs to bring to the table before being put into this position. This allows you to immediately identify qualified candidates. Make certain that the requirements you include in this section are truly requirements to complete the job successfully, not simply preferences. Something we see in job descriptions for management-level positions on a regular basis is “bachelor’s degree required.” Our recommendation is the wording should be “bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience required.” There are many people who are excellent employees, managers, and directors who do not have a degree but possess the experience to be top performers.
Job descriptions ensure that employees understand their duties in relation to the company mission.
One of the most important sections of a job description addresses working conditions and physical requirements. This area provides the employee with the job’s physical expectations and allow the employer to understand what, if any, reasonable accommodations must be made for the employee. This section also allows a physician to understand a patient’s requirements when releasing them back to work after medical leave, and should include: weight-lifting expectations (none, up to 10 lbs., up to 25 lbs., etc.) and their frequency; vision requirements; other physical demands like standing, walking, sitting, talking, or crawling; work environment (such as outdoor, extreme cold, dust or other irritants, or grease or oil); and safety equipment needed for the position (things like ear plugs, gloves, or safety glasses).
So why is it important to create job descriptions for each and every employee in your company? First of all, job descriptions ensure that employees understand their duties in relation to the company mission. Descriptions assist with the recruiting and hiring process by outlining necessary duties and experience. They also affirm legal compliance with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as assist with proper workers’ compensation classifications. Since these descriptions communicate expectations, they can and should always be used in performance management. Any time you discuss performance with your employees—positive feedback, a step in the progressive discipline process, or a performance appraisal—having a copy of the job description in hand for reference lets your employee link the feedback to the position’s description. For performance improvement, continually referring to the specified duties and knowledge required for the position can help hold an employee accountable for their performance and illustrate what you’re using as guidance for performance management. Further, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to defend your position on a termination in an unemployment hearing, being able to not only show that the employee understood the requirements but also prove that you continually managed to those expectations will be beneficial to your case.
When used correctly, job descriptions can be part of your company’s road map to success. With each team member playing a part in the achievement of the mission, your company will run like a well-oiled machine. [CD0816]
Christina Davis is the HR Director for the LMC group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.