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A Better Partnership

Publications

Mar 2008
10
March 10, 2008

Uncovering the Value of Well-Drafted Job Descriptions

Behavior-based job descriptions can make good business sense. Furthermore, good job descriptions provide a framework for the employer's internal processes of hiring, evaluating, promoting and disciplining employees. A good job description can help ensure that employers hire the right people and set forth clear and consistent performance expectations.

The Value of Behavior-Based Job Descriptions

What is the purpose of a written job description? Typically, job descriptions identify:

  • Duties to be performed
  • Organizational and reporting structure
  • Necessary skills and knowledge
  • Physical skills required

One aspect often overlooked in job descriptions is the behavioral expectations of the employee. Most employee failure is not based on a lack of skill, knowledge, or ability. Instead, most employees who fail do so because of behavior issues that compromise their work performance. Well-drafted behavior-based job descriptions require supervisors and managers to focus on the behaviors of successful employees.

Thus, employers should seek out employees who not only can complete the tasks their positions require but also complete the tasks in the appropriate manner. The successful employee not only knows what to do but also how to do it. Accordingly, behavior-based job descriptions focus on concepts like initiative, innovation, persistence, collaboration and service orientation.

Job Descriptions Can Make Legal Sense

From a legal perspective, well-drafted job descriptions can help employers avoid liability under a number of laws governing payment of wages and discrimination in employment. For example, a well-drafted job description will distinguish between essential and nonessential job functions, aiding compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Likewise, a well-drafted job description will help distinguish between exempt and nonexempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Job descriptions that show that different salary grades reflect differing levels of responsibility, seniority and job complexity can serve as evidence of compliance with the Equal Pay Act. Finally, job descriptions can provide an objective framework by which employers may consistently evaluate employees and help avoid liability claims based on gender, race, age and similar protections.

Create Effective Behavior-Based Job Descriptions for Your Organization

A well-drafted behavior-based job description can assist an employer both in attracting and retaining exemplar employees and in avoiding potential liability in a number of areas. While it may seem like a huge undertaking, we can help you draft behavior-based descriptions or simply revise existing descriptions to better fit the needs of your organization. Just contact any member of the WNJ Labor and Employment Practice Group and we can help you get started.
 

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