2.0 Lesson Introduction
In this lesson, we turn our focus to the process of determining the duties and skill requirements of a job, and the kind of people who should be hired for it – what is referred to as Job Description. The purpose of the lesson is to show you how to analyze a job and write job descriptions. We will see that analyzing jobs involves determining in detail what the job entails and what kind of people the firm should hire for the job.
2.1 The Nature of Job Analysis
Organizations consist of positions that have to be staffed. Job analysis is the procedure through which you determine the duties of these positions and the characteristics of the people to hire for them. Job analysis produces information used for writing job descriptions (a list of a job’s duties, responsibilities, reporting relationships, working conditions and supervisory responsibilities) and
job specification ( a list of a job’s “human requirements”, that is, the requisite education, skills, personality, and so on).
The supervisor or HR specialist normally collects one or more of the following types of information via the job analysis:
- Work activities: First, he or she collects information about the job’s actual work activities, such as cleaning, selling, teaching or painting. This list may also include how and when the worker performs each activity.
- Human behaviours: The specialist may also collect information about human behaviors like sensing; communicating, deciding and writing. Included here would be information regarding job demands such as lifting weights or walking long distances.
- Machines, tools, equipment and work aids: This category includes information regarding tools used, materials processed and knowledge dealt with or applied (such as finance or law) and services rendered (such as counseling or repairing).
- Performance standards: The employer may also want information about the job’s performance standards (in term of quantity or quality levels for each job duty, for instance). Management will use these standards to appraise employees.
- Job context: Included here is information about such matters as physical working conditions, work schedule and the organizational and social context – for instance, the number of people with whom the employee would normally interact. Information regarding incentives might also be included here.
- Human Requirements: This includes information regarding the job’s human requirements, such as job-related knowledge or skills (education, training, work experience) and required personal attributes (aptitudes, physical characteristics, personality, interests).
2.2 Uses of job Analysis Information
Job analysis, as summarized in figure 2.1, is the basic for several inter-related HR management activities.
Recruitment and Selection: Job analysis provides information about what the job entails and what human characteristics are required to perform these activities. This information, in the form Of job description and specifications, helps management decide what sort of people to recruit and hire.
Compensation; Job analysis information is crucial for estimating the value of each job and is appropriate compensation. Compensation (such as salary and bonus) usually depends on the job’s required skill and level, safety hazards, degree of responsibility and so on – all factors you can assess through job analysis. Furthermore, many employers group jobs into classes (say, secretary III and IV). Job analysis provides the information to determine the relative worth of each job and thus appropriate class.
Performance Appraisal: A performance appraisal compares each employee’s actual performance with his or her performance standards. Mangers use job analysis to determine the job’s specific activities and performance standards.
Training: The job description should show the activities and skills – and therefore the training – that the job requires.
Discovery Unassigned Duties; Job analysis can also help reveal unassigned duties. For example, your company’s production manager says she’s responsible for a dozen or so duties, such as production scheduling and raw material purchasing. Missing, however, is any reference to managing raw material inventories? On further study, you learn that none of the other people are responsible for inventory management, either. You know from your review of other jobs like these that someone should be managing inventories. You’ve uncovered an essential unassigned duty, thanks to job analysis.
EEO Compliance: job analysis also plays a big role in EEO compliance. Job analysis is a crucial in validating all major personnel activities. For example employers must be able to show that their selection criteria and job performance are actually related. Doing this, of course requires knowing what the job entails which in turn requires a job analysis.
2.3 Steps in Job Analysis
There are six steps in doing a job analysis.
Step 1: Decide how you’ll use the information since this will determine the data you collect and how you collect them. Some data collection techniques like interviewing the employee and asking what the job entails are good for writing job descriptions and selecting employees for the job. Other techniques like the position analysis questionnaire described later do not provide qualitative information for job descriptions. Instead they provide numerical ratings for each job; these can be used to compare jobs for compensation purposes.
Step 2: Review relevant background information such as organization charts, process charts and job descriptions. Organizational charts show the organization wide division of work how the job in question relates to other jobs and where the job fits in the overall organization. Should also show distribution of work, with whom the job incumbent communicates. A process chart provides a more detailed picture of the workflow. It shows the flow of inputs to and outputs from a particular job being analyzed.
Step 3: Select representative positions. Why? Because there may be too many similar jobs to analyze. For example, it is usually unnecessary to analyze the jobs of 200 assembly workers when a sample of 10 jobs will do.
Step 4: Actually analyze the job – by collecting data on job activities, required employee behaviours, working conditions and human traits and abilities needed to perform the job. For this step use one or more of the job analysis methods explained later in this lesson.
Step 5: Verify the job analysis information with the worker performing the job and with his or her immediate supervisor. This will help confirm that the information is factually correct and complete. This review can help gain the employee’s acceptance of the job analysis data and conclusions; by giving that person a chance to review and modify your description of the job activities.
Step 6: Develop a job description and specification. These are two tangible products of the job analysis. The job description is a written statement that describes the activities and responsibilities of the job, as ell as its important features, such as working conditions and safety hazards. The job specification summarizes the personal qualities, traits skills and background required for getting the job done. It may be in a separate document or in the same document as the job description.
2.4 Methods of Collecting Job Analysis Information
There are various ways to collect information on the duties, responsibilities and activities of a job. In practice, you could use any one of them or you could combine the techniques that best fit your purpose. Thus an interview might be appropriate for creating a job description, whereas the position analysis questionnaire may be more appropriate for quantifying the worth of a job for compensation purposes.
Conducting the job analysis usually involves a joint effort by an HR specialist (perhaps an HRmanager, job analyst or consultant) might observe and analyze the job and then develop a job description and specification. The supervisor and worker may then review and verify the job analyst’s conclusions regarding the job’s activities and duties. In practice firms usually collect analysis data from multiple subject matter experts”. (Mostly job incumbents) using questionnaires and interviews. They then average data from several employees from different departments to determine how much time a typical employee spend on each of several specific tasks. The problem is that employees who have the same job title but work in different departments may have experience very different pressures. Therefore, simply adding up and averaging the amount of time that, say, HR assistant need to devote to “interviewing candidates”
departmental context: The way someone with a particular job title spends his or her time is not necessary the same from department to department. The job analysis process begins when the analyst collects information from the worker and supervisor about the nature of the work and the specific tasks the worker does.
Interviews, questionnaires, observation and diary/logs are the most popular methods for gathering job analysis data. They al provide realistic information about what job incumbents actually do. Managers use them for developing job descriptions and specifications.
1. The Interview
Managers use three types of interviews to collect job analysis data – individual interviews with each employee, group interviews with groups of employees who have the same job and supervisor interviews with one or more supervisors who know the job. They use group
interviews when a large number of employees are performing similar or identical work, since it can be a quick and inexpensive way to gather information. As a rule, the workers’ immediate supervisor attends the group session; if not, you can interview the supervisor separately to get that person’s perspective on the job duties and responsibilities. Whichever kind of interview you use, you need to be sure the interviewee fuly understands the reason for the interview, since there’s a tendency for such interviews to be viewed rightly or
wrongly as “efficiency evaluations.” If so interviewees may hesitate to describe to describe their jobs accurately.
Pros and Cons
The interview is probably the most widely used method for identifying a job’s duties and responsibilities and its wide use reflects its advantages. It’s a relatively simple and quick way to collect information, including information that might never appear on a written form. A skilled interviewer can unearth important activities that occur only occasionally or informal contacts that wouldn’t be obvious from the organization chart. The interview also provides an opportunity to explain the need for and functions of the job analysis. And the employee can vent frustrations that might otherwise go unnoticed by management.
Distortion of information is the main problem – whether due to outright falsification or honest misunderstanding. Job analysis is often a prelude a changing of job’s pay rate. Employees therefore may legitimately view as an efficiency evaluation that may affect their pay. They may then tend to exaggerate certain responsibilities while minimizing others. Obtaining valid information can thus be a slow process and prudent analysts get multiple inputs.
Despite their drawbacks, are widely used. Some typical interview questions include:
What is the job being performed?
What are the major duties of your position? What exactly do you do?
What physical locations do you work in?
What are the education, experience, skill and (where applicable) certificate and licensing requirements?
In what activities do you participate?
What are the job’s responsibilities or performances standards that typify your work?
What are your responsibilities? What are the environmental and working conditions involved?
What are the job’s physical demands?
What are the emotional and mental demands?
What are the health and safety conditions?
Are you exposed to any hazards or unusual working conditions?
The best interviews follows structured or checklist format.
Keep several things in mind when conducting a job analysis interview.
- First, the job analyst and supervisor should work together to identify the worker who know the job best – and preferably those who’ll be most objective in describing their duties and responsibilities.
- Second, quickly establish rapport with the interviewee. Know the person’s name, speak in easily understood language, briefly review the interview’s purpose and explain how the person was chosen for the interview.
- Third, follow a structured guide or checklist, one that lists questions and provides space for answers. This ensures you’ll identify crucial questions ahead of time and that all interviews (if there’s more than one) cover all the required questions. (However, also
make sure to give the worker some leeway in answering questions and provide some open-ended questions like, “was there anything we didn’t cover with our questions?”)
- Fourth, when duties are not performed in a regular manner – for instance, when the worker doesn’t perform the same job over and over and over again many times a day – ask the worker to list his or her duties in order of importance and frequency or
occurrence. This will ensure that you don’t overlook crucial but infrequently performed activities – like a nurses occasional emergency room duties.
- Finally, after completing the interview, review and verify the data. Specifically, review the information with the worker’s immediate supervisor and with the interviewee.
Having employees fill out questionnaires to describe their job-related duties and responsibilities is another good way to obtain job analysis information. You have to decide how structured the questionnaire should be and what questions to include. Some questionnaires answers are on a scale e.g. 1 – 5 questionnaires are very structured checklists. Each employee gets an inventory of
perhaps hundreds of specific duties or tasks (such as “change and splice wire”). He or she is asked to indicate whether or not he or she performs each task and if so how much time is normally spent on each. At the other extreme the questionnaire can be open-ended and simply ask the employee to “describe the major duties of your job”. Person has a lee-way to put in his/her own words whether structures or unstructured, questionnaires have both pros and cons. A questionnaire is a quick and efficient way to obtain
information from a large number of employees; it’s less costly than interviewing hundred of workers for instance. However, developing the questionnaire and testing it (perhaps by making sure the workers understand the questions) can be expensive and time consuming. Disadvantage is that is is difficult to develop a questionnaire.
Direct observation is especially useful when job consist mainly of observable physical activities – assembly-line worker and accounting clerk are examples. On the other hand, observation is usually not appropriate when the job entails a lot of mental activity. (Lawyer design engineer). Nor is it useful if the employee only occasionally engages in important activities, such as a nurse who handles emergencies. And reactivity – the worker’s changing what he or she normally does because you are watching – can also be a problem. Managers often use direct observation and interviewing together. One approach is to observe the worker on the job during a complete work cycle. (The cycle is the time it takes to complete the job, it could be a minute for an assemblyline worker or an hour, a day, or longer for complex jobs). Here you take notes of all the job activities. Then, after accumulating as much information as possible, you interview the worker. Ask the person to clarify points not understand and to explain what other activities he or she performs that you didn’t observe. You can also observe and interview simultaneously asking questions while the worker performs his or her job.
4. Participant Diary/Logs
Another approach is to ask workers to keep a diary/log of what they do during the day, for every activity he or she engages in, the employee records the activity (along with the time) in a log. (Daily listings made by workers of every activity in which they engage along with the time each activity takes). This can produce a very complete picture of the job. Especially when supplemented with subsequent interviews with the worker and the supervisor. The employee, of course, might try to exaggerate some activities and underplay others. However, the detailed, chronological nature of the log tends to meditate against this. Some firms take a high-tech approach to diary/logs. They give employees pocket dictating machines and pagers. Then at random times during the day, they page the workers, who dictate what they are doing at that time. This approach can avoid one pitfall of the traditional diary/log method relying on workers to remember what they did hours earlier when they complete their logs at the end of the day.
5. Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ)
Qualitative approaches like interviews and questionnaires are not always suitable. For example, if your aim is to compare jobs for pay purposes, you may want to be able to assign quantitative values to each job. This calls for the use of Quantitative Job Analysis Techniques and the position analysis questionnaire is an example of such. The position analysis questionnaire is a very structured questionnaire used to collect quantifiable data concerning the duties and responsibilities of various jobs. It contains 194 items, each of
which (such as “written materials”) represents a basic element that may or may not play an important role in the job. The analyst decides if each item plays a role and if so, what extent. The advantage of the PAQ is that it provides a quantitative score or profile of any job in terms of how that job rates on five basic activities:
- Having decision-making/communication/social responsibilities.
- Performing skilled activities.
- Being physically active
- Operation vehicles/equipment
- Processing information
The advantage is that PAQ real strength is thus in classifying jobs. In other words, it lets you assign a quantitative score to each job based on its decision-making, skilled activity, physical activity, and vehicle/equipment, operation and information-procession characteristics. You can therefore use the PAQ results to quantitatively compare jobs to one another and then assign pay
levels for each job.
Using Multiple Sources of Information
There are obviously many ways to obtain job analysis information. You can get it from individual workers, groups or supervisors or from the observations of job analyst; for instance, you can use interview, observations or questionnaires. Some firms use just one basic approach like having the job analyst so interviews with current job incumbents. Yet a recent study suggests that using just one source may not be wise.
The problem is the potential inaccuracies in people’s judgments. For example in a group interview some group members may feel forced to go along with the consensus of the group; or an employee may be careless about how he or she completes a questionnaire. What this means is that collecting job analysis data from just interviews or just observations, may leaf to inaccurate conclusions. It’s better to try to avoid such inaccuracies by using several types of respondents – groups, individuals, observers, supervisors and analyst, make sure the questions and surveys are clear and understandable to the respondents. And if possible, observe and question respondents early enough in the job analysis process to catch any problems while there’s still time to correct them.
2.5 Writing Job Descriptions
A job description is a written statement of what the worker actually does, how he or she does it and what the job’s working conditions are. You use this information to write a job specification; this list the knowledge, abilities and skills required to perform the job satisfactorily. There is no standard format for writing a job description. However, most descriptions contain sections that
1. Job Identification
2. Job summary
3. Responsibilities and duties
4. Authority of incumbent
5. Standards of performance
6. Working conditions
7. Job specifications
1. Job Identification; Job identification section contains type of information. The job title specifies the name of the job, such as supervisor of data processing operations, marketing manager or inventory control clerk. Date is the date of the job description was actually written and prepared by indicates who wrote it. There is also space to indicate who approved the description and perhaps a space that shows the location of the job in terms of its plant/division and department/section. This section might also include the immediate supervisor’s title and information regarding salary and/or pay scale. There might also be space for the grade/level of
the job, if there is such a category. For example a firm may classify programmers, programmer III and so on.
2. Job Summary: The job summary should describe the general nature of the job and includes only its major functions or activates. Thus the marketing manager “plans, directs and coordinates the marketing of the organizations products or services.” For the job of materials manager, the summary might state that the “material necessary on the production line.” For the job of mailroom supervisor, the mailroom supervisor receives, sorts and delivers all incoming mail properly and he or she handles all outgoing mail including the accurate and timely posting of such mail. Include general statements like,’’ perform other assignment as required” with care.
Such statements can give supervisors more flexibility in assigning duties. Some experts, however, state unequivocally that one item frequently found that should never be included in a job description is a cop-out clause like other duties, as assigned. Since this leaves open the nature of the job and the people needed to staff it.
3. Relationship; There is occasionally a relationships statement, which shows the jobholders relationships with others inside and outside the organization. For a human resource manger, such a statement might like this:
Reports to: Vice president of employee relationships.
Supervises: Human resource clerk, test administrator, labor relations director and one secretary.
Works with: All department mangers and executive management
Outside the company: Employment agencies, executive recruiting firms, union representatives, state and various vendors.
4. Responsibilities and Duties; This section presents a list of the job’s major responsibilities and duties. You list each of the job’s major duties separately and describe it I a few sentences. This section should also define the lists of the jobholder’s authority, including his or her decision-making authority direct supervision of other personnel and budgetary limitations.
5. Standards of Performance and Working Conditions; Some job descriptions contain a standard of performance section. This lists the standards the employee is expected to achieve under each of job description’s main duties and responsibilities. Setting standards is never an easy matter. However, most managers soon learn that just telling subordinates to “do their best’ doesn’t provide enough guidance. One straightforward way of seeing standards is to finish the statement; “I will be completely satisfied with your work when…” This sentence if completed for each duty listed in the job description result in a usable set of performance standards.
6. Job Specifications; The job specification takes the job description and answers the question; human traits and experience are required to do this job well?” It shows what kind of persons to recruit and for what qualities that persons should be tested. The job specification may be a section of the job description or a separate document entirely.