What is the real value of a job description?

Effective job descriptions help organisations communicate roles and responsibilities and accountability accurately, so that they hire the right people and manage the performance and development of employees in their jobs successfully.

Additionally, job descriptions help support and justify decision-making and compliance requirements under laws and guidelines from legislative and regulatory bodies.

Yet, despite the importance of job descriptions, many organisations currently do not link them to most of their talent management processes. Here is how job descriptions can (and should) be used to support talent management programmes beyond recruiting.

Performance evaluation and development

While job descriptions help to identify the qualifications, skills, experience, and certifications/licences needed by someone in the job, they also help in other important ways. They clarify the expectations for someone working in a job, and together with competencies, help describe what it takes to be successful in a job.

In this way, job descriptions define the criteria that an employee will be evaluated against. They help provide a benchmark that managers can use to evaluate performance and determine appropriate learning activities (training, mentoring, etc.) to help employees close any skill gaps and ultimately drive higher performance.

Having solid job descriptions can support stronger learning and development programmes as well. Learning and development teams can define and develop a learning offering that meets the needs of the organisation, as well as learning paths progression in a specific role.

Fairer, more accurate compensation decisions

Since a job description serves as a foundation for job evaluation, it can be used to communicate the relative worth of jobs based on qualification requirements, skills, knowledge and any other requirements.

Job descriptions make it easier for compensation teams to compare and grade jobs fairly and consistently, and define appropriate salary scales, making compensation more transparent and equitable.

Without job analysis and a well-crafted job description, organisations can compromise their total compensation strategy, resulting in the inability to maintain a competitive edge in the labour market by being able to attract, recruit and retain top talent.

Underpinning career progression and succession planning

Job descriptions that are transparent and visible across the organisation help employees understand what it takes to be successful in a job – and that understanding is not limited to the job they are in right now.

Employees who express a desire to switch roles within the company can take a look at the detailed job description of the job they aspire to, and, with HR or line management support, get a realistic view of the skills and development needed to be successful in the new role.

What are the key elements that a job description should include? How can you use a job description up-to-date, and how does it reinforce your company’s core values? Continue reading on page two…

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