Right now, it’s more important than ever to have detailed and up to date job descriptions. Thorough job descriptions are imperative to ensure a smooth return to work plan, facilitate requests from employees to work remotely, address performance concerns when supervising remote employees (or on-site ones, for that matter), process requests from employees for accommodations under the ADA, and more. Well-written job descriptions help to ensure that employers and employees know exactly what functions of a job need to be done by the employee (and thus cannot be reassigned), and if they can perform them remotely or with any other accommodations. They also help an employer avoid ADA compliance issues. MP’s HR services team suggests having job descriptions on file and updated for all employees, as ADA accommodation requests or performance review concerns may occur at any time. Handling scenarios like this can already be inherently stressful and emotional on all sides. Having the job description ready and with a signature of acknowledgement from the employee can make discussions much simpler and more objective. For any employer wondering how to write job descriptions, or just looking for a refresher, MP’s HR compliance experts provide a simple (but thorough) checklist below.
8 Steps in Writing a Job Description:
1. Perform a job analysis:
Gather all the facts about a job by:
- Interviewing employees to find out what tasks are currently being performed
- Observing individuals who are currently doing the job
- Having employees fill out activity logs and questionnaires
- Conducting internet research and looking over sample job descriptions (this is especially helpful if the description is for a totally new role)
2. Establish core functions:
This section will be the second part of a job description. Decide on 4-8 core functions of the job. Use 1-5 words to describe these functions—do not go into the minutiae of them. Determine the percentage of the job that these functions take up.
3. Write a position summary:
This will be the first portion of a job description. It should be short and to the point. Just a few sentences that cover the core functions of the job. It will appear at the beginning of the job description.
4. Identify essential duties:
This section of the job description should be third. Determine a longer list of the essential duties for each core function. One method: answer the questions what, how, and why. About each duty, ask:
- Is the duty necessary to perform the job?
- How frequently is the duty performed or how much time is spent on the duty?
- Can the duty be redesigned or performed in another manner?
- Can the duty be reassigned to another employee?
5. Outline physical, environmental, or special demands:
This should be the fourth part of a job description. It could include sitting, standing, or lifting heavy items, especially hot or cold weather, and even the ability to tolerate loud noises (like jackhammering or construction).
6. List position requirements:
This section will be the fifth part of a job description. It can include skills, knowledge, abilities, education and certifications. Ensure that each requirement can be tied directly to the duties to be performed. Some employers require a BA, for instance, when it is not actually needed to complete the job’s duties.
7. Incorporate a disclaimer:
This section should go at the end. It will allow for job duties and expectations to change as needed.
8. Include a section for signatures:
This section should follow the job description, potentially on a separate page. Every time the job is updated, or a new person accepts it, there should be a dated signature acknowledging receipt by the employee, HR, and their manager. Ideally, this acknowledgement will be kept in an electronic record system (like MP’s).
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