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You Know You Should Do It But . . .

Job Descriptions 7/3/4

You know you should have job descriptions for each of your employees but . . . [insert excuse here] . . .

To help inspire and motivate you, let me share seven reasons why you should have written job descriptions, three items to remember to include and four ways to actually complete, use, review and update your job descriptions.

Much has been written about job descriptions. Effective job descriptions are an essential tool for employers that want to take charge of their workplace and their employer liability risks. Please let me share just seven reasons why you should have effective job descriptions.


  • Communicate your expectations to your employees.
  • Defend ADA claims.
  • Avoid discrimination claims.
  • Assist employee evaluations.
  • Improve employee productivity.
  • Set standards for performance.
  • Prevent injured workers from returning to work before they are ready, risking further injury.

Much has also been written about what to include in your job description. Let me add to those discussions with three tips.

  • Require employees to be on time. If this is important, set it out in the job description.
  • List dates/periods of time where you need employees to be at work.
  • List the physical demands of the job (standing, sitting, twisting, bending, lifting…).

If you recognize that you should have a job description but feel they are a time-consuming pain to prepare, consider these four tips. 

  • Open Jobs. Prepare descriptions for each job as they come available. Whether an entry level position for an outside hire or an internal promotion, prepare a job description when the job becomes available.
  • All Jobs. Have every employee in every job create the first draft of their own job descriptions. Who knows the job better than the people currently performing the job? It will be interesting to see whether your current employees’ descriptions of their jobs are consistent with your expectations. Start with drafts, revise as appropriate.
  • Employee Reviews. Use your job descriptions for employee reviews. Performance evaluations are tough. A job description can help start the review process. As such, it can be a tremendous tool for employee evaluations.
  • Updates. Use the employee review process to also update your job descriptions. In today’s business environment, jobs change. Some frequently, others less so. But all jobs change. Use the employee review process as an opportunity to continually update your job descriptions.

Job descriptions are not easy. But they are a long way from impossible. By completing descriptions as jobs come available, having current employees describe their job and reviewing those descriptions with employees from time to time, you can have an effective tool for managing employees and preventing employer liability problems.

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