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Writing a Final Prescription in the Job Design Process

Any desired changes in job design should be made and written into a final job prescription identifying what should occur on the job-not what can occur, not what will occur, and not what does occur.

Are you considering changes in any of the positions at your company? Know what to look out for and include in a job prescription. Find out more here.

Once the preliminary job description has been finished, the supervisor with input from higher levels, the subordinate, and others in the department must carefully study the present design to see if it is the one that should exist. The design pictured in the preliminary job description is the actual design. This must be compared with what the organization thinks the design should be like.
 
Study of the actual design may reveal numerous opportunities for improvement. Perhaps tasks should be added or subtracted from the job. Perhaps it becomes apparent that too much time is being spent in certain areas. Perhaps investigation will reveal that the frequency of contacts with others is excessive or that the independent authority of the position is inadequate. At any rate, it is very likely that opportunities for improvement will be found.
 
These changes must be communicated to the incumbent and his or her acceptance of the changes must be acquired.
 
Date and Get Signatures
 
Once the final job prescription is established and agreed to by all relevant parties, the prescription should be dated and signed by the incumbent, the supervisor, and any other approving authorities such as the head of personnel or manager. It may also be wise to have the analyst or preparer of the final job description sign it. Too often companies pull out of the file job descriptions that provide no information on when they were prepared, who prepared them, or who approved them. It is next to impossible to have any faith in the validity of such documents.
 
Decide Distribution, Storage, Access, Updating Routines, and Use
 
This is not really part of gathering and assembling the data, but merits mention. The point is that determination of who gets copies of the job description, where they will be stored, who will have access to them, how and when they will be used, who will update them and when is vital. Without this allocation of responsibility and distribution of tasks, the job description development effort is largely a waste.
 
COMMON METHODS AND SOURCES FOR DATA GATHERING
 
Some advantages and disadvantages of each method will be discussed, and some quality methods not hinted at previously will be mentioned. The important point to keep in mind is that no one method will necessarily be the right fit for every organization. It takes a variety of approaches properly planned and scheduled.
 
Questionnaires
 
A questionnaire can be distributed to the worker and to their supervisor. Both subordinate and supervisor can fill in this type of instrument describing the work of the subordinate. The views of both supervisor and subordinate can then be compared to develop a more accurate picture of the job.
 
The structure and wording of the questionnaire is critical to stimulate thinking about the job--to stimulate full and accurate responses. For example, questions must be clear, distinct (no overlap), and arranged from simple to more complex. No questionnaire should ever be distributed to employees without providing a full orientation on the purpose of the questionnaire and how to go about filling it in.
 
Questionnaires are one of the least costly methods for collecting information; they represent an efficient way to collect a large amount of information in a short period of time. The sample questionnaire asks questions about the tasks, expected outcomes, abilities and skills required, working conditions, and so forth. A less-structured approach can be used where you ask workers to describe their jobs in their own terms. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, but the structured approach is generally better because it allows for a better comparison between data and jobs.
 
Here are a few additional hints on what to think about when preparing and using questionnaires:
 
  1. Review questionnaires used by organizations, professional groups, or university researchers. By reviewing other questionnaires, you can put together one for your own purposes in a relatively short period of time. Many items on other questionnaires may not occur to you before the process begins; thus you can learn from other analysts' experiences.
  2. Keep it short. Most individuals do not like completing questionnaires. The longer the questionnaire, the less attention will be paid to the items during its completion.
  3. Have each questionnaire completed at work. Questionnaires that must be completed at home may not be given an earnest effort. As important to the organization as job analysis is, it should be done on company time so that employees have sufficient time to provide the information. Similarly, they will not look upon this as an extra burden they must bear if they can complete it during normal working hours.
  4. Categorize answers. Structure questions so that the responses can be categorized as much as possible. When possible, design closed-end questions; have employees check one of several responses or indicate numbers or percentages for responses whenever possible. This avoids gathering information that is hard to compare or cannot be used by the analyst.
  5. Test the questionnaire with several trusted employees. Many times the analyst will find that questions may be vague and misleading, or that important aspects of the jobs have been omitted.
  6. Include one open-ended question. Always include at least one question that allows the employee to give any additional information that has not been transmitted in the rest of the written questionnaire. This may facilitate communication about particular qualities of some jobs.
 
Interviews
 
Interviewing the incumbent and the incumbent's supervisor can provide valuable data not derivable by other means. Interviews allow the analyst to motivate accurate responses by fully discussing with the interviewee the rationale for the job analysis effort and the importance of the data collected. They also permit analysts to explain questions and to probe unclear points to a greater depth than would be possible with the questionnaire.
 
Using group interviews with several employees doing similar kind of work or with the incumbent and employees who regularly interact with him or her (including, perhaps, the supervisor) can be a valuable approach for stimulating honesty in responses and generating a full picture of the job. Group interviews can also be used with managers and others to gain insight into a given job. During group interviews, interviewees will stimulate the thinking of one another about the job. A comment by one person will trigger another comment from someone else. This leads to fuller and more accurate disclosure.
 
See the following articles for more information: