Compelling Reasons to Develop and Maintain a Job Analysis Program

job analysis program
  • When long tenured employees inform their HR department that they are thinking about retirement, it may cause panic if there are no obvious internal successors. Given that in these situations, the role has been adequately filled for so long the job description if one even exists, is likely so outdated that it does not reflect the required skills, knowledge and expertise required.  For this position, everything was working well and there was simply no need. Considering the current challenges in hiring talent, other roles with regular turnover have always taken focus and priority. Suddenly that changes and your organization likely isn’t prepared.  Employees that have been with company for years have built up so much knowledge and skills that they are often not only performing their formal roles, but they are also probably assisting with and contributing to innovative solutions in adjacent roles. Compounding the challenge for their succession is also the fact that not only are they the only person who understands the full scope of how they contribute, but they are mostly likely doing all of this with a high degree of efficiency.   The best and only consistent approach to managing this and similar risks is a proactive and regularly maintained job analysis program for all roles.

The job posting to replace your long tenured employee should be well-crafted to attract the right applicants.  It also needs to be attractive enough to encourage candidates to apply by offering a fair and competitive package as well as highlighting a great corporate culture, but most importantly it should clearly describe the essential requirements and expectations of the job.

A new employee needs time to understand the company culture, establish relationships and perform the job to the required standards. The job description is a starting point for candidates and eventually the new employee to reference the necessary duties, skills, and competencies.  The absence of a clearly defined job description can make it difficult for the employee to understand what’s required of them.  A job analysis is the best first step to create or update a job description or job posting.

What is a job analysis?

Job analysis is the process to identify as much information you can about the specific duties, responsibilities, skills, knowledge, expertise, and other necessary requirements for each specific role in your organization.  It builds on the more abbreviated job description by providing more detailed and descriptive information about the role and functions of the position. Other information that’s important to collect includes equipment or machinery used, existing training materials and tools, licenses, and certifications, along with a summary of key internal and external customers.  It’s important to recognize that the job analysis is not an analysis of the person doing the job, but rather the details about the role.

How do I conduct a job analysis?

There are a few different ways of conducting a job analysis and initiating such a program.  Either HR or the Department Manager can involve the current employee and conduct an in-person interview of both the employee and their direct supervisor.  This is a straightforward way of asking the questions necessary to understand and document the role and will provide valuable insight and a starting point with lower costs to the organization.

Once again, remember this task is analyzing the job position and not the person performing the role. This can also be distributed as a mini assignment but it’s important to note that employees understand in advance that they should come prepared for these questions and have the background context on the reasons and organizational benefits of the job analysis. To alleviate potential fears, it’s also important that the program is clearly understood as organization wide and ongoing.

The employee can list as much information as they can which provides a good working document for HR or the manager to follow up with additional questions. Be sure to initially obtain as much detail as possible. As drafts are reviewed, this will help to identify gaps or differences in understanding between the employee and supervisor and allow for removing unnecessary details as appropriate.

Another way of conducting a job analysis is through observation where a third party observes what the employee is doing and records the actual work.  It can be advantageous to do this in addition to the interview as it validates the information collected and provides the interviewer with a more accurate understanding of the job requirements.  To be effective, the observer should have a workable understanding of the job tasks.

Surveys are also an option when it comes to conducting a job analysis but most often employees won’t provide enough thorough detailed information to make these effective. However, these may be more efficient and useful when there are several employees in the same position. In this case, survey results can be consolidated and then augmented with specific interviews to fill in gaps or understand differences in the collected responses.

What questions should I include in the job analysis questionnaire?
  1. In 1-2 sentences, briefly describe the overall purpose of your job.
  2. Describe in order of importance the specific duties and responsibilities of your job (include an example relevant to a role in your organization).
  3. What guidelines, procedures and/or manuals assist you in carrying out your job duties?
  4. Describe the tools, equipment and/or machinery that you regularly use in your job.
  5. Describe the minimum formal education requirement you feel is required for the role (not your education, but the requirements for the job).
  6. How many years of relevant job experience do you feel that a new employee should bring to this position? (include a dropdown list to choose from)
  7. In your opinion, for a new person starting a job, how much on-the-job training does it take to learn the job? (include a dropdown list to choose from)
  8. Please indicate all specific skills and certification required (not preferred) to do the job. Include software skills, certifications, licenses, and other skills.
  9. Do you manage a budget in your role? What is your involvement in the budget process?
  10. Please list the people you are in contact with on a day-to-day basis within (Company name) and explain how this connection is important for the work you achieve.
  11. Please list the people you are in contact with on a day-to-day basis outside of (Company name) and explain how this connection is important for the work you achieve.
  12. Is there current training material available for your job and if so, do you feel this training is adequate? Where is this located?
What are the various ways you can use the information from a job analysis?

It’s important to keep your job descriptions and job postings accurate and up to date as doing so will help in the following ways:

  • It will assist your recruitment team to attract the right candidates which will then have a greater probability of success in the role.
  • The regular process of documenting and mutually reviewing job descriptions will help to ensure employee and supervisor are aligned in their understanding of the role and expectations.
  • It helps set clear expectations for employee onboarding which ensures the employee is set up for success.
  • The detailed skills, competencies and other pertinent information listed (including tools and equipment needed) can help with relevant coaching and training.
  • It helps to determine if the goals and objectives of the job have been accomplished by the employee and what level of skill the employee is performing at.
  • It helps to define pay ranges and other perks and benefits. You may want to research similar jobs and competitor salaries to compare.
  • The job analysis can assist in identifying career progression through the identification of both progress and lateral development paths.
  • It helps to assess risks and hazards associated with the job and what important health and safety steps to implement.

Having well documented and clearly defined job roles is beneficial to both the employee and the organization and is a highly effective tool for HR.  Once you are content with your job analysis, it’s essential to periodically review them for accuracy and ensure all the information is current.  The initial exercise may be time consuming, but the discipline involved in maintaining such a program will definitively prove its value over time.  Contact Bridge Legal and HR Solutions to assist you with performing a job analysis. For more information contact (647) 794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca 

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