Purposes for Job Analysis
Dave Carlson - March 31, 2009
Brannick, Levine, and Morgeson (2007) argued that job and task analysis “are important, because they form the basis for the solution of virtually every human resource problem” (p. 1). If all job descriptions were perfect, and all employees were in the appropriate job for their skills and desires (while meeting the needs of the company), human resource (HR) problems would be significantly reduced. Unfortunately, that kind of HR utopia does not exist. As an alternative, HR professionals must perform job and task analysis to determine the best fit for the organization.
- Job Description. A job description is a brief written description of work -- it’s a snapshot intended to communicate the essence of the job. A job description usually contains identifiers (job title plus other classifying information), a summary (mission or objective statement), and duties and tasks (what gets done), and it may contain other information such as reporting relations, accountability, and minimum qualifications. Among other things, job descriptions are important for communicating the nature of the job to someone who doesn’t already know what the job is.
- Job Classification. Job classification is the process of placing one or more jobs into a cluster or family of similar jobs. The family may be based on lines of authority, duties, and responsibilities of the work or behavioral requirements of the job. Job classification can be important for setting pay rates and selecting employees.
- Job Evaluation. Job evaluation is the process of establishing the worth of jobs to an employer. Employers want the pay for various jobs to match their value in relation to one another within the company and to stack up well against pay rates offered by other companies. By maintaining fair pay, job evaluation helps to attract and retain people.
- Job, Team, and System Design and Redesign. Job design is the process of bundling tasks or clusters of tasks into a collective called a job. Job design is necessary whenever a new job is created. Team design is the process of bundling tasks or clusters of tasks for a team of workers as opposed to individuals. Systems design overlaps with team design, but also attends to assigning tasks to equipment and people in the system. Job, team, and system redesign is the sorting of tasks to replace old jobs and functions with new ones. Job redesign is often part of an effort to increase work efficiency.
- Human Resource Requirements and Specifications. Human resource requirements refer to human resource attributes necessary or desirable for performing the job. Such attributes are often thought of as knowledge, skills, abilities, or other characteristics (KSAOs). Job specifications refer to minimum qualifications that employers require for the job. These specifications can be used to inform job applicants and staff charged with screening applications about the standards the applicants must meet.
- Performance Appraisal. Performance appraisal is the process of evaluating the job performance of individuals (and teams) who have been working for some period. Usually, performance appraisals are completed by management and used to help make decisions about raises and promotions, and to give workers feedback about their performance.
- Training. Much of what workers need to know, think, or do to perform successfully on the job is learned after they are hired. Job analysis informs the development of training by identifying the key KSAOs job incumbents need to perform the tasks of a job.
- Worker Mobility. People move into and out of jobs, and sometimes occupations. Some organizations provide formal career ladders or paths that are intended to foster skill development and occupational success for individuals.
- Workforce planning. Workforce planning is essentially the flip side of worker mobility. Organizations want to plan for jobs that need to be filled and to be confident that qualified applicants will be available to fill them.
- Efficiency. Improving efficiency at work includes things such as shortening the work process or making it easier to do, for example, (1) reducing the number of physical movements in a repetitive task, (2) developing work aids (perhaps a checklist giving all the needed steps for completing a job), or (3) designing better tools (such as a shovel of a certain size).
- Safety. Job analysis can identify specific behaviors and working conditions that increase the chances of accidents and injury. Improving safety can involve changes to the work process, the development of work aids and tools, or changes in the work context (work environment).
- Legal and Quasi-Legal Requirements. Several different laws apply to conditions of employment, including hiring, training, paying, promoting, and firing employees. Job analysis is used to describe jobs and worker qualities so that interested parties can determine whether employment practices serve to improve productivity and efficiency, and do not unlawfully discriminate against people.
Source: Brannick, Levine, & Morgeson, 2007, pp. 3-5.
Brannick, M. T., Levine, E. L., and Morgeson, F. P. (2007). Job and work analysis: Methods, research, and applications for human resource management (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.