In general, job analysis is a “systematic procedure for gathering, documenting, and analyzing information about the content, context, and requirements of the job. It demonstrates that there is a clear relationship between the tasks performed on the job and the . . . [knowledge, skills, and abilities] required to perform the tasks” (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2007, p. 39). Specifically job analysis provides a tool for companies to review their needs and classify positions that will fulfill those needs. A job description is a “written narrative of the activities performed on a job as well as information about the job context, equipment used, and working conditions” (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006, pp. 140-141). Appendix A details the components of an effective job description. Job descriptions are written off of the job analysis findings, and the resulting descriptions should take into consideration the organizational vision, mission, values, long-term goals, and short-term goals. Job analysis and job descriptions affect several Human Resources (HR) functions, including HR planning, recruitment, selection and training, performance evaluations, and compensation and benefits.
Job analysis is a key step for effective HR planning. It can be used to “[design/resign] jobs to improve efficiency or motivation” (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006, p. 142). Job analysis can also reduce overlap across departments by distinguishing one category across multiple departments (similar responsibilities) or by forming distinct jobs within departments. Jobs that overlap can either be combined or separated. At the same time, job analysis can limit political squabbles by clarifying reporting relationships and areas of responsibility (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006). Job descriptions can also be used to promote collaboration when they detail relationships between work groups (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006).
Job analysis also works with the company’s internal and external recruitment processes. The first step in recruiting is to determine whether a new position needs to be opened or an existing position filled. Can someone else take over the job duties? Does the position fit with organizational objectives? Then the recruiter or HR personnel must determine whether the company can fund the position’s associated compensation and benefits. Third the recruiter must decide whether to recruit internally, externally, or both, depending on the requirements of the position. Finally, the recruiter must advertise the position and its required skills, education, and experiences (“How to write a job analysis”, 2008). All of these steps are facilitated through the information provided by the job analysis and presented in the job description.
When screening and interview applicants, the job description provides specifications for the type of person who would best fit the available position. On the applicant side, the job description provides a realistic preview of the job and the associated expectations, which can then be used to determine interest and fit. Job analysis and detailed project descriptions can help managers determine whether the new staff member should be an employee or contractor, permanent or temporary, and full-time or part-time (“How to write a job analysis”, 2008). Job analysis can also help managers to understand the likelihood of filling a job with an internal applicant. Does the company offer a similar job that could facilitate a lateral move? Do “feeder jobs” exist, which work up to the desired job through additional training? Along the same lines, the company can use job analysis to determine whether it has an internal pool of skills from which to draw in the future or whether it needs to look externally to fulfill company goals.
Job analysis is also crucial for complying with regulations set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). An example of these regulations is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers must ask the same questions of everyone in the same job category, especially when concerning a potential disability (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008a). In addition, if an employee is not hired based on the results of these questions or a related medical exam, the employer must prove that the medical functionality is a key component of the job and that a reasonable accommodation could not be made for the applicant (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008a). Employers must have a solid job analysis system in place to determine what functionality is truly essential and to be prepared for potential accommodations that may be requested.
Selection and Training
Employee selection occurs after recruitment. Employees are selected based on their fit with the job qualifications, company culture, and work team. As mentioned previously, the selection process must be compliant with EEOC regulations. A detailed job description also adds to the fairness of the selection process, as rejected applicants can interpret the minimum requirements needed and why they did not meet those criteria.
After an employee is selected, he/she must be trained. Managers and HR personnel must be aware that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibit discrimination in training and apprenticeships (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008b). From an organization perspective, the job analysis permits the company to conduct large, general training sessions based on job categories. HR or separate departments can then offer more-individualized training. From an employee perspective, the company can anticipate training needs by identifying the gaps between existing skills/education and the skills/education depicted in the job description.
After an employee is hired and trained, his/her performance is evaluated. Job analysis enables HR and managers to have a formal starting point for job expectations. Performance evaluations assess how well the employees have fulfilled their individual task and job requirements to meet organizational objectives (Dwyer, n.d.). Employees can then be assessed fairly based on the employees’ actions and the requirements presented in the job descriptions. In fact, discrimination with regard to “transfer, promotion, layoff, . . . recall, [or firing]” is prohibited by Title VII, ADA, and ADEA (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008b). Job analysis and performance evaluations also permit managers to determine whether an employee is outperforming or underperforming when compared to peers and the job description. This information can also be used to evaluate whether the employee is better suited for another job category (promotion, transfer, or demotion). It also allows the manager to determine whether goals can be met with existing staff or whether recruiters should open a new position.
As part of the performance evaluation process, employees may choose to discuss career planning (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006). Job analysis facilitates these discussions by offering a path to different positions through alternate skills, education, and experiences. The employee can use job descriptions to help distinguish whether the current job is a good fit or whether he/she would be better suited somewhere else. If the employee decides to leave the current position, he/she can set goals for gaining the qualifications necessary to move on.
Compensation and Benefits
Job analysis also affects compensation and benefits. It helps HR to set pay rates through understanding the type of employee desired (high-skilled or low-skilled, high-performer or average-performer) and the associated fair market compensation (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006). It also “[ensures] equal pay [and benefits] for equal work” (no discrimination due to gender, race, or other factors) as pursuant to the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII, ADEA, and ADA (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006, p. 142; U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008c). Job analysis also ensures fair payment across equivalent job categories, departments, and lines of business (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006). Specifically the EEOC looks at pay discrimination on the basis of job content, not job titles (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2008c). Job analysis can also be used to distinguish increased levels of compensation and/or benefits, such as those associated with promotions. HR is also able to divide compensation/benefits packages based on job categories and then plan for those expenses based on typical usage.
Overall job analysis plays a critical role within organizations. Job analysis and job descriptions provide clarity to employees and to managers. They also ensure compliance with federal, state, and local regulations. HR planning, recruitment, selection and training, performance evaluations, and compensation and benefits are all impacted by effective job analysis.
Dwyer, D. J. (n.d.). Job analysis-based performance appraisals. Retrieved November 8, 2008 from www.shrm.org/hreducation/Dwyer_Performance_Appraisal_Final.ppt
Fisher, C. D., Schoenfeldt, L. F., & Shaw, J. B. (2006). Human Resource Management (6th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
How to write a job analysis and description (2008). Retrieved November 8, 2008 from http://www.entrepreneur.com/humanresources/hiring/article56490.html
HR-Guide.com (2001). HR guide to the Internet: Job analysis: Job descriptions. Retrieved November 8, 2008 from http://www.hr-guide.com/data/G051.htm
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2008a). The ADA: Your responsibilities as an employer. Retrieved November 2, 2008 from http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/ada17.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2008b). Discriminatory practices. Retrieved November 2, 2008 from http://eeoc.gov/abouteeo/overview_practices.html
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2008c). Equal pay and compensation discrimination. Retrieved November 2, 2008 from http://www.eeoc.gov/types/epa.html
U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (2007). Delegated examining operations handbook: A guide for federal agency examining offices. Retrieved November 8, 2008 from http://www.opm.gov/deu/Handbook_2007/DEO_Handbook.pdf