How to Conduct a Job Analysis

A true understanding of the nature of a job is essential to nearly every facet that surrounds that job, from creation to training. And at the core of this understanding is job analysis, which provides the critical foundation for that vital understanding.

What is Job Analysis?

Effectively, job analysis is data collection – on every facet of a job – that supports numerous human resource (HR) management functions, including job requirements, training, position level, compensation, HR planning and work design. One key result of a job analysis is a thorough and accurate job description, though this is only one of many critical contributions.

Why is Job Analysis Important?

Job analysis is critical to inform nearly every aspect of an employee’s role in a job. The data provided by job analysis supports several elements critical to a successful organization, some of them legal requirements.

  • Job analysis avoids loss of talent. According to the Economic Research Institute, ill-defined evaluations can increase costs with poor hiring, or a loss of in-house talent.
  • Legal reasons necessitate job analysis. Numerous regulatory situations can mandate proper job analysis, including those governed by The Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Job analysis supports accurate pay. Paying employees fairly for the requirements of a job supports recruiting top talent and retention and avoids the organization over or underpaying employees.
  • Job analysis provides a fair framework for performance assessment. Establishing a clear job description and the related skills necessitated by the job allow for accurate benchmarking during performance assessments.
  • Job analysis supports training. With a clear understanding of what a job needs, the organization can also identify what current employees – or future hires – don’t possess, and plan training that fills those gaps.
  • Job analysis informs HR planning. With a clear picture of the skillsets required for jobs at the organization, HR departments can actively plan for upcoming needs and maintain existing – and missing – skillsets at the organization.

What Information is Collected?

In practice, job analysis should address all the information surrounding a job, including:

  • What are the core functions of this job?
  • What are the duties and responsibilities an employee will fulfill in this job?
  • What knowledge, skills and abilities does this job require?
  • What is the desired outcome from this job?
  • Where does this job fit in the organization?
  • How does this job support the broader organization’s goals?
  • What is the work environment for this job?

HR’s Role in Job Analysis

Although HR plays a critical role in job analysis, the HR department cannot be the only participant in a job analysis. Instead, HR should partner with employees and managers to facilitate accuracy through the process. HR should facilitate employee completion of a job analysis form, interview employees about specifics, request detailed tracking of employee tasks and time invested, observe employees doing their jobs, interview others who interact with the employee and adopt a broader perspective by assessing the job in the context of the department and the job level, both for function and pay.

HR is also responsible for establishing the exempt vs. non-exempt status of a job as well its distinction between managerial, professional and service, as each impacts the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements and benefits.

Job Analysis Methods

Just as the jobs within an organization are diverse, so are the job analysis methods available. Successful job analysis focusing on the job itself, not the employee doing the job, the Society for Human Resource Management cautions. In most cases, job analysis may lean on multiple methods to obtain a full picture.

In an interviewing context, understanding the job content can focus on the tasks required or the competencies needed. Further, this can be placed into a pre-established framework (deductive) or collected without any organization in place (inductive).

Data can also be collected in multiple ways: by direct observation or through an interview – or both. Even the interview format can range from unstructured to structured, with some conducted with pre-established questionnaires and others using a custom approach.

Best Practices in Job Analysis

Keep in mind that the more information gathered during a job analysis, the more accurate descriptions, compensation, and expectations will be. Follow these best practices for the most successful job analysis:

  1. Choose the right method for the job. Remember, as the Economic Research Institute highlights, multiple methods of job analysis can work – the key is selecting the appropriate method for the job. For example, a job that is heavily task-oriented may be better described through a traditional focus on job tasks, while a competency-oriented role may be better served by a worker-centric approach.
  2. Ask knowledgeable people to describe the job. While going directly to supervisors may save time and cut costs, its important to ensure the supervisor will have an accurate understanding of their employees’ jobs. If not, it is important to interview the employees in the job directly.
  3. Enhance validity with buy-in at the employee and supervisor level. Before finalizing a job description, obtain sign-off at both levels to ensure accuracy.
  4. Ensure detailed descriptions. Proper details provide important insight to job requirements, and carefully recording those details is necessary for a successful job analysis. For example, instead of saying an employee in this job “delivers a monthly sales report,” communicate that the employee “gathers data across 10 departments, reviews data for accuracy, analyzes data for trends and creates a summary to visualize results, which are presented to key departmental stakeholders.”
  5. Look at similar jobs outside the organization. This doesn’t have to be an extensive or expensive process. Garnering some sample job descriptions from other companies’ websites or professional sites like LinkedIn or could provide a framework for the job description.
  6. Take a step back. Job analysis can also be an opportunity to gain efficiency. Flag tasks or roles that don’t make sense for the job being assessed, and consider moving them to a different department or role that may be a more productive fit.

Putting in the work to get the job analysis right pays off in the long run, considering a successful job analysis paves the way to successfully defining a job, hiring top talent to fill it, training the employee and retaining them with fair compensation.

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