Job Descriptions

10 Critical "Compensable Factors" in Job Descriptions

In yesterday’s Advisor, we talked about the three different job descriptions most jobs have. Today, we’ll look at 10 specific factors you can evaluate as you work to unite those three job descriptions into one.

These 10 elements describe the specific job requirements in terms of “compensable factors.” You can use these factors to gauge whether the job description properly captures the job, and you can use these factors to help gauge the level of compensation that is appropriate, as well as the exempt/nonexempt status of the position.

Here, courtesy of BLR’s Job Descriptions Encyclopedia, are the primary compensable factors:

  1. Experience. How long should the incumbent have worked in this job or in closely related jobs to be fully qualified? Is it important that the experience be within or outside the organization?
  2. Education. What does the job require in terms of formal schooling, training, certification, or knowledge of a specialized field?
  3. Responsibility. Is the employee responsible for the safety of other employees or for the loss or damage to tools, materials, or equipment? How significant to the employer is the work the position is responsible for? How big is the budget the incumbent manages?
  4. Complexity of duties. Does the job require the incumbent to show judgment and initiative or to make independent decisions?
  5. Supervision received. How closely does the incumbent’s immediate supervisor or manager check his or her work? Does the supervisor or manager outline specific methods or work procedures?
  6. Supervision exercised. How many people does the incumbent supervise, directly and indirectly? What responsibility does he or she have for controlling policy decisions, costs, or work methods?
  7. Consequences of error. If the incumbent made an error, what dollar loss would be likely to result? How often does the possibility of loss or error occur?

Set that keyboard aside! Your job descriptions are already written. Click here to see why thousands of managers have a permanent place in their offices for BLR’s classic Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.


  1. Working conditions. Is there anything in the work environment that is unusually hazardous or uncomfortable? For what percentage of the time is the incumbent exposed to such conditions?
  2. Mental, physical, and visual demands. What degree of concentration is required? Are there special physical demands? Is eyestrain likely?
  3. Confidential data. To what extent is the incumbent responsible for confidential information? What would be the consequences of unwarranted disclosure? To what extent are integrity and discretion important?

Job descriptions. A never ending battle for every HR manager. What’s the state of your job descriptions? Complete? Up to date? If not—or if you’ve never even written them—you’re not alone. Thousands of companies fall short in this area.

It’s easy to understand why. Job descriptions are not simple to do—what with updating and management and legal review, especially for the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) requirement of a split-off of essential functions from other functions in the description. Wouldn’t it be great if your job descriptions were available, already written?

Actually, they are. We have more than 700, ready to go, covering every common position in any organization, from receptionist right up to president. They are in an extremely popular BLR® program called the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

First created in the 1980s, the “JDE” has been continually refined and updated over time, with descriptions revised or added each time the law, technology—or the way we do business—changes.


Prewritten job descriptions in the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia now come with pay grades already attached. Click here to try the program at no cost.


Revised for the ADA, Pay Grades Updated

There was a major revision, for example, following the passage of the ADA. In fact, BLR editors reviewed every one of those 700 descriptions to ensure they were ADA-compliant.

Another enhancement was the updating of pay grades for each job.  According to our customers, this is an enormous timesaver, enabling them to make compensation decisions even as they define the position. You can see a sample job description from the program by clicking here. (Yes, it is the one for HR Manager. Pay grade: 38.)

The BLR Job Descriptions Encyclopedia also includes an extensive tutorial on setting up a complete job descriptions program, and how to encourage participation from all parts of the organization. That includes top management, the employees, and any union or other collective bargaining entity.

Quarterly Updates, No Additional Cost

Very important these days, quarterly updates are included in the program as a standard feature—key at a time of constantly changing laws and emerging technologies. We’ll send you new or revised descriptions every 90 days. And the cost is extremely reasonable, averaging less than 43 cents per job description … already written, legally reviewed, and ready to adapt or use as is.

You can evaluate BLR’s Job Descriptions Encyclopedia at no cost in your office for up to 30 days. Get more information or order the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

Download product sample

Download list of job descriptions included

Other Recent Articles on Job Descriptions

Every Job Has 3 Job Descriptions—That Rarely Match

Can Job Descriptions Lose Your Case in Court?

The Delicate Business of Mental, Physical, and Environmental Job Requirements

Maestro’s Job Description for Managers

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