Transparency promotes employee engagement
Transparency promotes employee engagement
Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

For TalentIQ a discussion around job descriptions is essential. For the most part, a job description signals the beginning of talent engagement.

Whether being critical or in jest, employees at times identify work as being above their paygrade, or make known that a particular assignment is not part of their role. Specific functions attract an employee to a position. A badly written job description has the potential to have an employee feeling disheartened about the work because of the way information was presented, or because of critical information not shared during the interview and hiring process.

If you are a start-up, down-sizing, right-sizing, or undergoing some form of reorganization, let the (potential) employee know of ongoing organizational changes. Be clear that he or she will experience some level of disorganization that might require some resourcefulness – running or calling around – to find answers to undefined processes. During the interview it would make good sense for the candidate to inquire about the nature of work especially what they might experience in the short to medium term in the new role.

Job Description Remedies

The litigious nature of our society demands that managers and employees be on the same page about the essentials of getting the job done. Labor laws compel employers to prepare this legal document and management tool for every employee. The job description becomes an annex to the contract of work. So what are you serving up in your job description?

Know that a job description functions as a critical business document addressing the who, what, where, when, why and how of work.  A job description sets expectations of the job and streamlines accountability. It can be described as a basis of rationalization that helps managers achieve results of work. The content of a job description influences a candidate’s decision about whether or not to consider a career with a firm. Consider the following a template to create, revamp or analyze a job description. Think of this template as a prescription that addresses the pains frequently associated with badly written job descriptions-

  • Formal elements – identify the scope of activities: Job Title, Job ID, Location, Job Summary; use this section to pinpoint the critical elements;
  • Definition of the scope of activities – contains the department and circumstances of working: For example partnerships with other teams to perform role;
  • Connections contains the organzational chart: This would include supervisory and relationship management responsibilities. For example: Ability to lead and motivate project team members that are not direct reports;
  • Scope of activities: Main tasks, performance indicator;
  • Responsibilities – the responsibility for work, personnel, material resources, confidentiality;
  • Expectations – demand on qualification, experience, personal features. Avoid listing qualifications that are not needed to succeed in the job; otherwise, include what is considered to align with the mission and culture. (I once saw a job opening for a communications associate at a leading corporation that required “Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor.”)
  • Other criteria – features not listed in the previous groups, but are important for the company (Business Category, Job Category, and Salary Grade.)
Transparency promotes employee engagement

Avoid mistakes in writing job descriptions that weaken the document. Some mistakes are omitting regulatory needs (like a health certificate); making it too vague; listing same responsibilities for two different jobs; using gender-specific terms; and tailoring a job description to suit an employee.

Job descriptions become a challenge when the writer is not versed in the legalese that’s more familiar to HR.  For smaller neighborhood businesses HR expertise may or may not find entrepreneurs in a quandary.  Human Capital Institute (HCI) and Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) are great resources for human capital management.

In reviewing and further developing the job description, management should involve the individual performing the job, to help identify ways in which the role and responsibilities have evolved.  Employees see this as transparency and feel that the company is interested in their development especially if those roles help propel their career path.

Everywhere, companies are vying for top talent to give them a competitive edge.  How potential candidates get attracted to businesses is through means of research, including available (public) documents such as job descriptions.  For these reasons, job descriptions must be viewed as part of the company’s profile to the public. Serve up awesomeness in your next job description! Your talent will be better for it.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.

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Caroline Bruno

Caroline is a talented writer/editor and progressive thinker whose character, capacity and spirit are admired by family, friends, and colleagues alike. She holds sHRBP credentials with Human Capital Institute...

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