Many job descriptions distort the actual importance of a job. Others neglect discussing acceptable performance standards. Still others are incredibly vague about duties.

For these and other reasons, many HR professionals never refer to them. So do job descriptions have any real value or usefulness?

They do:

Well-written job descriptions introduce new employees to their jobs and help them understand what is expected and why.

Job descriptions help snuff out grievances between employees and even between departments. When job parameters and responsibilities are well-defined, the job and the employee move closer to becoming a perfect fit.

A good job description is your best tool for performance and wage evaluation. For the less-structured job, it keeps the employee aimed in the right direction and makes supervision of that employee easier.

In keeping with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws protecting disabled applicants and employees from discrimination, employers have the duty to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees to perform the “essential functions” of a job. Therefore, the employer needs to identify the “essential functions” of each job.

A business owner can use a good job description not only as a valuable aid in the job-recruiting process, but also as an outline for reporting relationships and working conditions. A well-crafted job description can also be used for:

  • Performance management. You can use it to set measurable performance goals based on duties in the job description, and then coach your employees to meet these goals as needed.

  • Training and employee development. You can use your employee job descriptions, along with descriptions of possible job promotions, as incentives for employees to pursue classes, seminars and other career development activities.

  • Compensation. Job descriptions can be helpful in developing a standardized compensation program with minimums and maximums for each position.

  • Recognition and rewards. You can use the descriptions as a baseline for performance, and as a tool to encourage employee performance “above and beyond” the job description in order to receive recognition and rewards.

  • Discipline. If you need to, you can use the job description to illustrate that an employee isn’t adequately performing job functions.

  • Return-to-work programs. You can prepare for light or modified duty options to allow for a smoother transition from a workers’ compensation injury or leave.

  • Essential job function analysis. The job description can contain prerequisites for positions such as educational requirements, employment experience, physical requirements, supervisory responsibilities and certificates or licenses needed. Well-developed, accurate job descriptions may also prove useful in providing a defense against charges of employment discrimination beyond the recruiting process.

    Entrepreneur