Up-to-date and carefully written job descriptions are one of an employer’s most important communication tools.  They explain the “who, what, when, why, and how”, defining essential functions and performance expectations for each position.  Without job descriptions, managers and employees can be left wandering in the dark without a flashlight, and with no direction.

Job descriptions serve as a benchmark for numerous HR processes: 


Companies often review or create job descriptions when it is time to fill a position.  Hiring starts with stating exactly what your company needs, and what knowledge, skills, and abilities would be required for the position’s responsibilities.  Candidates need an accurate review of the job requirements to know if they are interested and qualified.  Job Descriptions also assist managers in developing job related interview questions. 

Performance and Development

Job descriptions provide a foundation for employee reviews in which managers compare accomplishments to listed requirements.  Employees gather a greater understanding of their present position and steps to take to meet future goals.   Managers must understand job requirements to forecast training needs and work with employees to further develop their skills.  


Job descriptions serve as a guide for determining compensation levels, adequate job titles, and exempt versus non-exempt status.  They also help ensure pay equity within the company for employees with similar responsibilities.  When performing an external analysis, job descriptions supply a basis for market comparisons.   

Legal Compliance and Employee Relations

Job descriptions can be a strong defense against many kinds of grievances or claims, including those involving discrimination, negligence and retaliation.  Without written documentation that identifies necessary skills and responsibilities, any case would be difficult to defend.  Additionally, job descriptions provide guidance for managers in appropriately handling employee questions.  For example, when descriptions identify the essential functions of the job, those details are key in determining if a disabled employee can do the job with reasonable accommodation (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Organizational Structure

Job descriptions serve as an introduction for new employees to their new positions and identify appropriate channels of communication. They help managers determine workforce planning, outlining the responsibilities for each employee.  With a documented view of work flow, managers can more adequately delegate tasks and reassign functions appropriately. 


Stay tuned for our next HR Blog:  Tips for Writing Job Descriptions

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