Job descriptions can easily become inaccurate. Over time, many job requirements will change and evolve as the role changes and the business needs change. They can also change simply as a result of the employee taking responsibility for new tasks or from new projects that change the landscape of the role.
For these reasons, it’s important to truly analyze jobs to see what they entail and compare that to the job descriptions so that the description can be accurate. This is called a job analysis. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) advises that “Job analysis is the process of gathering, examining and interpreting data about the job’s tasks and responsibilities. It generally includes tracking an employee’s duties and the duration of each task, observing the employee performing his or her job, interviewing the employee, managers and others who interact with the employee, and comparing the job to other jobs in the same department and job grade or job family.”[i]
As you can see, a job analysis is a fairly intensive undertaking. The person in charge of it will want to be sure to ask the employee for input and also the supervisor or manager to get a full view. If there are multiple people with the same role, ask as many as is practical to ensure all aspects are covered and ensure that the role is the same for each individual with the same title. And if possible, objectively observe the job being done.
What you’re looking for is to determine the job requirements and then determine what an applicant must demonstrate to be considered for the job. When the job analysis is complete, the reviewer should be able to list or update the essential job functions, the responsibilities of the role, and the percentage of time spent on each component. An assessment should also be made as to the qualifications required to do the job in terms of knowledge or skills, personality characteristics, and any required training or certifications. The analysis should include the working conditions and any special requirements or considerations. It should also include job goals or required outcomes.
The results should be compared with related roles so that the job can be accurately positioned in the company hierarchy. If applicable, it should also be positioned within the company’s pay grade system or other formal salary structure. These assessments can also all be used together to help to determine whether the job should be classified as exempt or nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
Why should you conduct a job analysis?
The primary reason to conduct a job analysis is to keep job descriptions up to date, which helps in:
- Hiring new employees. You need to ensure the best fit for the job, which is only possible if the job description has been analyzed and confirmed to be reflective of the true job requirements.
- Ensuring ADA requirements are being met. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assessments require that the essential job duties are accurate.
- Evaluating employees. Employees are often evaluated against the items in the job description; you need to be sure they’re being evaluated against the right criteria—ones that reflect the true requirements and goals of the job.
- Compensation analysis. When reviewing pay surveys, the only way to make accurate comparisons is if the job descriptions reflect the real job duties.
- Ensuring employee exempt versus nonexempt classifications are correct.
Does your organization routinely conduct job analyses? How often is this done? Have you found the need for frequent job description updates as a result of the job analysis?
*This article does not constitute legal advice. Always consult legal counsel with specific questions.
About Bridget Miller:
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.