By Kate Reichert, Compensation Consultant, Trüpp.

Job descriptions tend to be one of those things that end up at the bottom of the priority list. They’re time consuming to write, not to mention there is little guidance around how to write them well. On top of that, there is little understanding around why job descriptions are necessary to a business. It’s really no wonder managers struggle with giving any attention to job descriptions.

So, why do we need job descriptions?

They define the business need for a specific position and they should be written to reflect what the business need is for a job. As a guidepost, consider what is necessary in a position if the organization had to go out and recruit for it.

How do I use a job description?

When a job need is defined and documented, a compass has been created and employees are better able to understand the specifics around their role and responsibilities. The document also allows managers to hold employees accountable for those responsibilities. If an employee is functioning outside the scope of the job description, that’s a performance issue. Perhaps they are overachieving in the job and that could mean they should receive a higher merit increase or a promotion. If an employee is underperforming, managers can point to the expectations described in the job description and hold the employee accountable. Perhaps they should get a smaller than usual merit raise since they are not meeting expectations.

Job descriptions are also a key input to determining appropriate compensation for a role. Since it clearly defines the position, job descriptions allow the reviewer the comprehensive understanding necessary to compare the job to similar roles in the marketplace. Since not all jobs are created equal, even when they are titled the same, the job description provides the context necessary to gather accurate and meaningful market salary data for the position.

Check out our Compensation Planning Guide for an in depth look at this topic.