JOB DESCRIPTIONS - Why every employer needs to have them for each member of her / his staff
Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Every single employee should have a Job description as they need to know what is expected of them. Collectively, all the Job Descriptions should specify and allocate all the work done in the business to individuals (or teams) to ensure the work is done, how it is done, by when and the consequences / rework required if these benchmarks are not met.
Probably one of the most important reasons why Job Descriptions are required in a business is to clarify that the company, not the owner of the business is the legal employer, This limits any personal / direct obligations of the owners / Directors of the business and clarifies that the (usually Limited) business legally employs all the employees. This also permits the clean sale of the business and leaves no residual liabilities with the Directors, like pension liabilities to employees.
Each employee needs to know exactly what their job requires and what is expected of them, for Performance Management (assessment) reasons (often done once or twice each year). A Job Description clarifies what each employee is obligated to do and not to do, avoiding duplication, overlapping responsibilities between staff and how they should all work together.
Larger companies tend to include a brief background and overview of the business, as well as an explanation of the expectations the business is looking for. This might include their professional experience and achievements, skill set, educational background and qualifications, as well as any desired personality traits.
Many Job Description have two major sections:
A Generic Section, applicable to all employees in the business, employment conditions and required standards of behaviour; and
A Specific Section for each individual’s tasks, roles, duties, responsibilities and deadlines; This will the start and end times of the work at each location and any specific company security / access procedures for physical security and IT security / confidentiality. Some Job descriptions also tend to have legal conditions regarding development of any IP whilst in employment, dismissal standards for unauthorised actions that affect the company’s Goodwill / Reputation or breaches of information security procedures.
One of the main benefits for Small Businesses to have individual job descriptions is that it delegates every single part of a task the company undertakes across all the staff and by cross-referencing which tasks are supervised / Quality Assessed by other team members, it reduces the amount of checking individual pieces of work is acceptable by the Directors / Owner themselves. It also ensures all the staff are gainfully (fully) employed and can easily be modified if they are not, or if the work / checks are not being done to the required standard.
If everyone each has their own Job Description, this clarifies, legally, all the employee's responsibilities and the employer's duties to the employee. However, most employment contracts have an all-inclusive (bucket) clause saying something like “and any other tasks required from time to time by the management”. It is also the employers responsibility to (try) to ensure that jobs are not double-allocated, or if they are, each job description should say who they are to work with, to complete the work, or allocate certain jobs for different days for different members of staff.
This Generic section will specify who, legally, is the specific employer, the employees’ place(s) of work, the principal purpose of the work, frequency and methodology of employee payments, indexed, how any bonuses are assessed/paid and exceptions or reasons for non-payment. It will also define how non-pay benefits are accrued, referencing a company holiday entitlements procedure & a company sickness procedure, a pension accrual procedure / entitlement and how any changes to these documents are made / agreed, referencing other relevant company procedures such how employee disputes are raised / managed / determined.
The Company's Procedures are just referenced here and do not need to be included in each employee’s job description.
This section will probably specify the Job Title, requirements / qualification / skills of the Job, when the employment started, objectives of each task required for the job, deadline for each major work task component, who the employee reports to and works with and termination procedures.
Job Descriptions need to be updated (I’d suggest annually) in line with individual Performance Assessments.
Job Descriptions are especially useful as the business evolves and especially if / when the business is sold as likely buyers will want to know what each of the staff are responsible for and how they perform against expectations.
Benefits of every single employee having their own Job Description
The main benefit of everyone having Job descriptions is that everyone know what is expected of them, how they fit in to the team / organisation and this enables Performance Management of each member of staff. Each Job description is also a legal document, forming the basis of a contract of employment. Clearly many Job Descriptions for similar staff may have similar content for large parts of the Job Description.
In particular, not only does this allow more exact / appropriate allocation of roles & responsibilities, but it allows the business owner to very easily change / evolve / modify each staff member's role as the business evolves, grows and changes.
Job Descriptions are almost essential when Supervisors or Managers are appointed, so that both your Manager and all our staff know what is expected of each of them, which work they are allocated and what standard of work is expected of each of them.