No law requires business owners to have written job descriptions for the positions in their companies. They take time to write -- and time is precious for businesses.
On the other hand, job descriptions can be very useful. Job descriptions are the result of analysis -- the process of identifying and determining the particular duties and requirements and the relative importance of these duties for a given position. Once you have determined the duties and requirements you can write a job description, but you can also use the document to:
1. Write job ads and interview questions.
The first step in finding the right employee is to know what you need. Performing job analysis and writing a job description will help you to determine exactly what skills, experience, cognitive capabilities and behaviors you want in your new employee. Once you have determined these specifics, you can use them to write your job ad and interview questions.
2. Develop new employee orientation.
Fully understanding the job duties can help you to make sure that nothing is left out when you put together the orientation plan for your new hire. The job description provides you a list of essential and secondary duties. It gives you a complete picture. It will prompt you to remember the daily tasks and those that are performed less frequently as well as the individuals the employee will interact with.
3. Create training and development specific to the needs of the job.
What do you need to teach your employee to do? You know the skills your employee has. A job description outlines the skills required by the job. What better way to identify gaps between the two? What skills or experience does the employee need to acquire to be able to move into another job? Job descriptions can help you to identify development needs.
4. Determine compensation and other rewards.
Before you can decide how much you should pay for a particular position, you need to know what is required to perform the job. Job analysis will help you think through education requirements, specific skills and licenses, levels and length of experience. All of these effect compensation.
5. Manage performance.
Managing employee performance is easier if you have thought through the job requirements. In addition, many job descriptions will list performance expectations. For example, you may write that the employee will answer the phone, within three rings, using a specific greeting and a pleasant voice.
6. Decrease liability.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, The Family Medical Leave Act, The Fair Labor Standards Act and Worker’s Compensation all rely on knowing what an employee must be able to do and/or under what conditions they work. These include, but are not limited to, essential job functions, when an employee can return to work from an injury or illness, whether a job is exempt and what physical or environmental conditions the employee can expect to experience on the job. Having your jobs documented can help to protect the organization and give guidance to employees and their physicians when necessary.
While you are not required to have written job descriptions, doing so can make many of the human resources aspects of running your small business easier. If you need help, look for an experienced HR professional who can assist you in the process.