A well-written job description is essential and can be used as a versatile management tool. Once a business is legally compliant; with contracts of employment and the employee handbook in place, the next crucial step is to create detailed job descriptions for each role within the business.

A well-crafted job description can also be used for:

Recruitment and selection – to create advertisements and appropriate interview questions and for supplying job candidates with specific information.

Employee orientation – to ensure new employees have a better understanding of job expectations.

Performance management – to set measurable performance goals based on duties in the job description, and then coach employees to meet these goals as needed.

Training and employee development – along with descriptions of possible job promotions, as incentives for employees to pursue classes, seminars and other career development activities.

Compensation – to develop a standardised compensation program with minimums and maximums for each position.

Recognition and rewards – as a baseline for performance, and as a tool to encourage employee performance “above and beyond” the job description in order to receive recognition and rewards.

Discipline – to illustrate that an employee isn’t adequately performing job functions.

Return-to-work programs – to prepare for light or modified duty options to allow for a smoother transition from a workers’ compensation injury or leave.

To write an effective job description, you need sufficient information about the job. The most effective way to do this is through interviews with the current job incumbents and their managers about the job and the work performed.

When drafting job descriptions, it is important to maintain consistency to ensure work is not duplicated and that roles are not overlooked. Typically, HR professionals develop job descriptions and use them for the variety of purposes as detailed above.

It is important that the job description is accurate, based on information from reliable sources, and is subject to a review process. The recommendation would be that they are written as part of a key strategic HR project by an HR professional with experience in developing job descriptions and should be reviewed by a manager with extensive knowledge of the business and the different roles therein before the job description is approved. This 2-man team will ensure consistency is maintained across all offices within the company.

Developing strong job descriptions and keeping them up to date will save a lot of time at a later date.