A job description isn't a legal requirement, however the very minimum an employer should provide an employee on their first day is a written statement of particulars which details the job title and a brief description of duties. However, it is good practice to provide your employees with a full job description as this gives them a framework within which they can work and allows you to manage expectations on both sides and performance.
Generally, in the HR arena, if it's not written down it didn't happen. Ergo, if you don't clearly define your expectations in a written format to your employee, they can argue they are unaware of your requirements. This only poses a problem when things are going wrong, but all too often this is where small business owners in particular come unstuck. As small business owners we want to foster an environment of trust and flexibility and keep that "family" culture, and formalising things in a written format doesn't give you that warm and fuzzy feeling does it? However, setting clear expectations reduces confusion and benefit not only your employee but you and your business as a whole.
Another time a job description is useful is when you're thinking about hiring someone. It helps you define exactly what you're looking for in a new hire and helps you write a clear and concise job advert.
Writing a job description doesn't have to be "war and peace", and here are some simple guidelines which will enable you to make a template for future use.
Make this clear and reflective of the role. It's easy to think of fancy titles we think might attract people to the role but if the title isn't reflective of the what the role is actually about it can lead to confusion and disappointment.
Who/what role is it reporting into?
Does this role report into you, or someone else, and what is your/their role?
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
Here you can detail in a bullet point list, what the key activities will be, and the things that are particularly important to you as a business. You don't have to get right into the minutia of each day, covering the main tasks is sufficient. Many job descriptions have a "Any other tasks as reasonably required" point which can cover ad hoc activities etc.
Will this role have any other roles (not people, think about it as roles, it makes it easier to keep up to date)
Here you can detail any specific qualifications the role requires, whether it's essential that the role holder is already qualified, or can be working towards achieving. Are you happy if they are qualified by experience (QBE)?
It's very common for a job description (or an advert) to state a number of years experience in a similar role. Rather than pull a number out of thin air here, know why you need to have 5 years of experience, for example. What will you get with 5 years that you can't learn in two years?
Soft Skills (Competencies)
Soft skills are so important. A person could be the highest qualified person in the country, in their particular field, but that's no good to you at all if they can't talk to people at a senior level, and the key requirement of you role is that they develop business for you. Consider whether you need your ideal person to be organised, work to deadlines, tidy, great at writing newsletters - the list is pretty endless.
Key Performance Indicators or KPIs
This section you should only include if you are actually going to measure performance against what you include here. It's a brilliant tool for informing performance reviews and decisions around pay increases. For example, if it's important that all customer enquiries are responded to within 24 hours, then include it here. Review it on a regular basis and give feedback - good or bad - and let your employee know how they're doing.
Use these tips to create a job description template
The tips above will help you write a good job description. Once you’ve done one , you can use that as a template. That way, you should only have to change the role's details each time you hire someone new. Or you can use our free simple job description template.
A final point to note is that now you have your job description it's not entirely rigid. Whilst it shouldn't change on a weekly basis it's worth reviewing annually, with your employee, to see if anything has changed. Or it may be that your business requirements have changed and therefore the role has different responsibilities. If it has, discuss with your employee, update the job description and make sure your employee acknowledges the changes.
Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this information, My Office Fairy Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions and the information is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
If you need support with anything discussed above, or any other aspect of your business, My Office Fairy are here to help so just get in touch.