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Well-documented descriptions for each position in your organization can increase accuracy in recruiting, help set effective expectations for performance management, determine salary levels, and create a basis for what constitutes a reasonable accommodation for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) purposes.

What makes up a well-documented description?  I recommend 6 things:

1. Essential Functions

These are the tasks that are truly necessary and required in order to perform the job.  Phrased as “essential functions” on a job description helps keep compliant with the ADA.  Specify how the task should be completed and the frequency at which the task is performed and/or the percentage of time spent performing the task.  By specifying how a task should be completed, it sets an appropriate expectation for performance.

2. Work Environment & Physical Demands

These two sections should share information about the kind of work environment where the position will be performed (temperature, noise level, warehouse or office) and what the position requires physically (lifting, driving, standing, sitting).  Both of these sections are recommended for ADA compliance.

3. Position Classification

Once you’ve identified what the essential functions of the position are, you can determine if this position should be exempt from overtime pay or eligible for overtime pay (nonexempt).  This has been a hot button topic lately with the new overtime regulations that came out in May and were most recently halted prior to the December 1  deadline.  If you’re a member of SHRM, this checklist can help you determine if a position should be exempt or non-exempt.

4. Position Requirements

These are all of the knowledge, skills, abilities, educational requirements, experience, certifications, and other items you require of someone in order for them to be in the position.  If for some reason, a candidate is hired that you think meets these requirements, but a background check reveals they do not, an accurate job description can provide proof of an appropriate termination or other remedy.

5. Duties Disclaimer

“Not my job” should never be an answer an employee gives to a request by a supervisor.  Each job description should include a disclaimer that states the description is not designed to cover a comprehensive list of duties and that other duties may be assigned or changed at any time with or without advance notice to the employee.

6. Signatures

When the job description is finalized, a signature is important to validate it.  Both the supervisor and the employee should sign the description, as well as any other pertinent staff, such as HR or otherwise.  A signature can show that an employee understands what’s expected of them and can help keep the supervisor accountable to the expectations of that employee.

If you need help making sure your job descriptions are accurate, comprehensive, and up to date, contact Purple Ink – we can help!

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Manager of Career Coaching Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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