FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Techniques for Collecting Data for Job Analysis
An HR specialist (an HR specialist, job analyst, or consultant), a worker, and the worker’s supervisor usually work together in conducting the job analysis. A variety of methods are used to collect information about jobs. None of them, however, is perfect. In actual practice, therefore, a combination of several methods is used for obtaining job analysis data. These are discussed below.
a) Job performance
In this method the job analyst actually performs the job in question. The analyst, thus, receives firsthand experience of contextual factors on the job including physical hazards, social demands, emotional pressures and mental requirements. This method is useful for jobs that can be easily learned. It is not suitable for jobs that are hazardous (e.g., fire fighters) or for jobs that require extensive training (e.g., doctors, pharmacists).
b) Personal observation
The analyst observes the worker(s) doing the job. The tasks performed, the pace at which activities are done, the working conditions, etc., are observed during a complete work cycle. During observation, certain precautions should be taken
- The analyst must observe average workers during average conditions.
- The analyst should observe without getting directly involved in the job.
- The analyst must make note of the specific job needs and not the behaviors specific to particular workers.
- The analyst must make sure that he obtains a proper sample for generalization.
This method allows for a deep understanding of job duties. It is appropriate for manual, short period job activities. On the negative side, the methods fail to take note of the mental aspects of jobs.
c) Critical incidents
The critical incident technique (CIT) is a qualitative approach to job analysis used to obtain specific, behaviorally focused descriptions of work or other activities. Here the job holders are asked to describe several incidents based on their past experience. The incidents so collected are analyzed and classified according to the job areas they describe. The job requirements will become clear once the analyst draws the line between effective and ineffective behaviors of workers on the job. The critical incidents are recorded after the events have already taken place – both routine and non-routine. The process of collecting a fairly good number of incidents is a lengthy one. Since, incidents of behavior can be quite dissimilar, the process of classifying data into usable job descriptions can be difficult. The analysts overseeing the work must have analytical skills and ability to translate the content of descriptions into meaningful statements.
The interview method consists of asking questions to both incumbents and supervisors in either an individual or a group setting. The reason behind the use of this method is that job holders are most familiar with the job and can supplement the information obtained through observation. Workers know the specific duties of the job and supervisors are aware of the job’s relationship to the rest of the organization.
Due diligence must be exercised while using the interview method. The interviewer must be trained in proper interviewing techniques. It is advisable to use a standard format so as to focus the interview to the purpose of analyst. The advantages of using an interview are that it is: simple, quick, and more comprehensive because the interviewer can unearth activities that may never appear in written form.
Although the interview method provides opportunities to elicit information sometimes not available through other methods, it has limitations. First, it is time consuming and hence costly. Second, the value of data is primarily dependent on the interviewer’s skills and may be faulty if they put ambiguous questions to workers. Last, interviewees may be suspicious about the motives and may distort the information they provide. If seen as an opportunity to improve their positions such as to increase their wages, workers may exaggerate their job duties to add greater weight to their positions. The following interview guidelines may be used to mitigate against these limitation: a) the job analyst and supervisor should identify the workers who know the job best and would be objective; b) establish a rapport with the interviewee; c) follow a structured guide or checklist; d) ask worker to list duties in order of importance and frequency of occurrence; and e) review and verify the data.
The questionnaire is a widely used method of analyzing jobs and work. Here the job holders are given a properly designed questionnaire aimed at eliciting relevant job-related information. After completion, the questionnaires are handed over to supervisors. The supervisors can seek further clarifications on various items by talking to the job holders directly. After everything is finalized, the data is given to the job analyst.
The success of the method depends on various factors. The structured questionnaire must cover all job related tasks and behaviors. Each task or behavior should be described in terms of features such as importance, difficulty, frequency, and relationship to overall performance. The job holders should be asked to properly rate the various job factors and communicate the same on paper. The ratings thus collected are then put to close examination with a view to find out the actual job requirements.
Questionnaire method is highly economical as it covers a large number of job holders at a time. The collected data can be quantified and processed through a computer. The participants can complete the items leisurely. Designing questionnaires, however, is not an easy task. Proper care must be taken to see that the respondents do not misinterpret the questions. Further, it is difficult to motivate the participants to complete the questionnaires truthfully and to return them.
f) Log records/Daily Diary
Companies can ask employees to maintain log records or daily diary and job analysis can be done on the basis of information collected from the record. A log record is a book in which employee records /writes all the activities performed by him on the job. The records are extensive as well as exhausted in nature and provide a fair idea about the duties and responsibilities in any job. In this method worker actually does the work himself and idea of the skill required, the difficulty level of the job, the efforts required can be known easily.
g) Human resource department records
Records of every employee are maintained by HR department.
The record contain details about educational qualification, name of the job, number of years of experience, duties handled, any mistakes committed in the past and actions taken, number of promotions received, area of work, core competency area, etc. based on these records job analysis can be done.
Job Analysis should collect information on the following areas:
- Duties and Tasks the basic unit of a job is the performance of specific tasks and duties. Information to be collected about these items may include: frequency, duration, effort, skill, complexity, equipment, standards, etc.
- Environment This may have a significant impact on the physical requirements to be able to perform a job. The work environment may include unpleasant conditions such as offensive odors and temperature extremes. There may also be definite risks to the incumbent such as noxious fumes, radioactive substances, hostile and aggressive people, and dangerous explosives.
- Tools and Equipment some duties and tasks are performed using specific equipment and tools. Equipment may include protective clothing. These items need to be specified in a Job Analysis.
- Relationships Supervision given and received. Relationships with internal or external people.
- Requirements The knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) required when performing the job. While an incumbent may have higher KSA’s than those required for the job, a Job Analysis typically only states the minimum requirements to perform the job.