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The Importance of Defining Job Roles and Job Descriptions

We live in an age where staff can wear many different hats and be skilled across multiple disciplines within the company they work for. This can have its pro’s and con’s for both the employer and employee – but ultimately can lead to some confusion within the workplace when duties are not properly allocated. We’re going to explore why employers should not underestimate the importance of defining job roles for employee’s and why giving clear responsibilities and expectations can future proof the business.

Responsibility and Accountability

Regardless of whether you are defining the job roles right from the start or doing it during employment, or even in a re-structuring process, you’re giving everyone an understanding of exactly what the job entails and, more importantly, what is expected. Fundamentally, identifying clear job roles avoids situations where employees can become overloaded or even not utilised properly and/or be shirking responsibility. If you’re not understanding what the team is doing and how they should be working you’ll have no idea that some may be taking on extra work away from their KPIs. As we’ve mentioned before, people can become disengaged when overloaded with work and not recognised for it which inevitably leads to looking for a job where these needs are given. Everyone needs goals and ambitions within the workplace and defining job descriptions is the key to setting those expectations. Recruitment can be challenging in itself, but by not setting out the job role clearly you will find it much harder to recruit the ‘’right’’ person. Would you take a job that didn’t have a clear definition? Or you take a job that you think is one thing, but ends up being something completely different and not what you expected – would that be satisfying?

Review

Again, we have previously highlighted how appraisals and 1-2-1s carry high significance when it comes to positive employee engagement. Responsibilities and performance can be discussed formally in these meetings and support and recognition can be given. This will give both parties an opportunity to talk about what is needed to move forward. It may be that additional training is required, more staff, more equipment or even more responsibility given. By having the job description clearly defined both employer and employee can review together with the same point of reference. If additional work away from the job role is happening, then it’s an opportunity for it to be communicated and then the support can be given. These are great opportunities to discuss any other burning issues with the member of staff and act accordingly. This is where the business is seen more proactive to resolve issues quickly – rather than reactive to long-standing problems which might be too late to resolve.

In addition, the business needs a clear strategy with regards to reviewing job roles. It can be easy to fall in to a cycle of employing people for various roles – but more on that later!

Recruiting, Inducting and Training

It almost goes without saying but recruitment is easier if you know exact what you are looking for. After all, you wouldn’t employ a qualified marketing professional if you needed a specific engineering role filled! To drill it down even further, when it comes to recruiting the right person take in to account what level of experience you need, years in the industry, previous performance/employers and the specific opportunity the job offers. The job description will not only attract the right calibre of person but will also help dictate the induction administered when starting and also any ongoing training that may be necessary. For example, if you’re looking for a trainee or entry level role – the induction and training will be hugely important to both parties. This may be their first job or their first job in the industry. They’ll be looking to better themselves and what you offer to them is central to that journey. Alternatively, an experienced engineer might not necessarily need too much technical training in the induction but more of an overview of the company goals, future innovations and planned growth. The recruitment, induction and training all takes time and needs to be factored in.

Strategy, Strategy, Strategy   

The business needs a strategy for human resources that is in-line with the over arching business plan. Employing and ‘firing’ with a very short term and narrow vision is very unsettling for staff. High turnover of employees gives everyone a feeling of ‘’will it be me next?’’ and will lead to seeking opportunities elsewhere. It’s a cycle we have seen many businesses get in to and it can be hard to break that sequence without help. The strategy will help identify teams, numbers of people required to complete the processes and magnify the importance of the people when growing the business. This is ultimately how you can future proof the business. Plan for success. Planning the people is one of, if not the, most important factor. Clearly defined job roles are the vehicle to make this success happen and the key reason for keeping hold of your best employees.

Save Money

The business can save money in many areas with clear job descriptions. Recruiting costs, training costs, having too many staff costs, underperformance costs – everything has a cost. In many cases we have seen restructuring as a vital process to implement. This can lead to trimming the workforce but very often you find a motivated, recognised and engaged team is more productive than a big team of people who are not engaged. Not only is everyone’s role clearly identifiable, but everyone knows the hierarchy and structure; who is responsible for each team, who their line manager is, what their day-to-day duties are and who ultimately makes decisions.

 

To conclude, it may seem like an obvious solution but one that is often not given the time it deserves. Define the roles within your business and support each employee so that the whole company is on the same page. We are lucky enough to have worked with many businesses to aid their workforce planning and HR function. The large wholesale changes are not always required but making small effective changes that give big outcomes are what can really make the difference. We have developed a specialist expertise when engaging with employees to create a positive company culture. If this is something you would like to explore further, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch via www.hr-star.co.uk/contact .

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