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CH.6

After reading Chapter 6:

Answer the Discussion Question that: Why is a job analysis important?

Respond to three other discussion(I’ll uploaded letter after you done the Discussion ). (Your

response must be of significance, more than just yes or no)

You will need to post your comment as respond to the 3 comments by no more than 2-3

Complete Sentences. I Looking on the depth, not the length of your comments

CHAPTER6

Position Descriptions

Chapter Objectives

After reading this chapter, readers will be able to:

• Understand the importance of a properly prepared position or job description

• Conduct a position analysis

• Appreciate the contribution made by a position’s incumbent

• Describe the components of a position description

• Create a position description

CHAPTER SUMMARY

Position descriptions or job descriptions are the documents upon which the day-to-day operations and

activities of the employees of an organization are based. They should support the mission, goals, and

objectives of the organization that creates them. All job descriptions in an organization should use the

same format and a common vocabulary. Well-written position descriptions include statements that

clearly delineate duties and responsibilities and fully describe compensable factors such as the level of

responsibility, the number of persons supervised, the resources controlled, and the experience and

minimum level of education needed to complete the job successfully.

Case Study: Creating a New Job Description

Julie Miller, the health officer of a large suburban health department, was planning for the future. The

board had discussed creating a new position for someone to conduct training for employees of the

health department. Registered sanitarians are the most common classification of employees in the

health department. They are not only difficult to recruit but also difficult to retain. Providing them with

additional and ongoing training should help with retention.

Matt Jefferson has been employed as a registered sanitarian for the past six years. He recently

completed a master of public health degree. He approached Julie to ask for the training position, briefly

making his case that he was the best person to become the trainer. Julie told Matt that, according to

departmental rules, a search would have to be conducted to find the best candidate for the position.

Matt replied that if the job description were written carefully, a sanitarian clearly would be the best

candidate. After thanking Matt for his thoughts, Julie began to work on the position description, which

she thought could be completed in half an hour. What comments or advice would you offer to Julie?

………………………

INTRODUCTION

Lists of activities delineating a particular employee’s tasks are called job descriptions or position

descriptions. The term job description is older and evolved from the field of industrial psychology.

Position description is a newer, more inclusive designation. The two terms are interchangeable. With

changes in the flow of work, position descriptions change. Fluidity of positions is especially pronounced

in fields related to health. Managers must be aware of such changes and ensure that the descriptions of

the activities that their employees perform remain current and accurate. This is relatively easy for

supervisors to address with an annual review of the descriptions for their supervisees. Human resources

(HR) must be willing to record changes in an organization’s master files.

A job analysis must precede the preparation of a position description. The format of a position

description varies among and within organizations. However, one general format is usually found

throughout a single organization. Health departments may use separate formats for clerical, nonexempt

positions and managerial, exempt positions. Exempt refers to the status of a position relative to the Fair

Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 and its subsequent amendments, meaning exempt from the

overtime provisions of FLSA. The FLSA established the length of a working week in the United States,

which is currently set at 40 hours. It requires employers to pay affected employees at a rate of one and

one-half times their hourly wage for hours worked in excess of the maximum work week. All work

performed in excess of the maximum working week is called overtime.

According to the FLSA a position may be designated as exempt if it meets certain requirements

addressing salary, level of responsibility, and the management or supervision of others. As long as a job

meets the FLSA test as professional, administrative, or executive, it is a “salaried” position exempt from

the overtime requirements of FLSA. Such positions typically include those of managers and supervisors,

and any time these employees work in excess of 40 hours is assumed to be a part of their normal job

duties. Employees who are paid by the hour are fully covered by FLSA regulations; they are referred to

as being nonexempt.

A position description generally has three main parts: identifying information, a job summary, and a list

of the principal duties performed. The process of generating a position description begins with an

analysis of the job or position.

Positions, not individuals, are classified. Occasionally, the temptation exists to write a position

description for a specific individual, tailoring the requirements and experiences so that a preselected

person becomes the best candidate in a job search. This should be avoided. If that person leaves the

position, then the specifications will not readily change. Finding a replacement may then become

difficult. It is better for all concerned that a position description be written for a job and not for a

particular person.

POSITION ANALYSIS

A job description is the most obvious and visible output of a job analysis. Comprehensive and accurate

job descriptions, developed as a result of job analysis, are used when selecting, training, evaluating, and

compensating employees.

The basis of any employment decision is job analysis, a fundamental activity in human resource

management. Accurate information about all positions is required to direct and efficiently control the

activities and operations of any organization. Federal regulations and competition have both increased

the importance of job analysis. HR does not produce revenue, yet HR requires significant cash outlays in

an organization’s annual budget. Supervisors and managers must have current and accurate information

about all positions to operate their businesses, deliver services, and conduct programs in an efficient

and timely manner. Smaller healthcare provider organizations and health departments have often

omitted compiling complete sets of position descriptions. They rely on the professional nature of many

employees’ duties for guidance in supervising and evaluating professional employees.

Position descriptions provide more than just guidance for an employee’s day. They are integral to an

organization’s efforts to be fair and equitable to all employees. Organizations providing healthcare

services that do not have current position descriptions for all employees become vulnerable with regard

to accusations of discrimination in employment practices. One way to defend against charges of unfair

employment practices is to conduct job analyses and prepare job descriptions.

A job analysis involves extensive studying of a specific position and yields information for a position

description. The person conducting a job analysis gathers information about positions from several

sources. These include interviews with people currently in the position (also referred to as job or

position incumbents), observing their performance of the job’s duties or tasks, worksheets or

questionnaires completed by employees, and information from sources such as the Dictionary of

Occupational Titles.

Position analysts will compile their findings and review the resulting job analysis with the current

position incumbent. Once agreement is reached with regard to the job description’s accuracy, the

preliminary document is given to an incumbent’s supervisor for review. Supervisors may add, delete, or

modify descriptions of duties, knowledge, skills, abilities, or other characteristics. After supervisors

approve individual position descriptions, they are forwarded to upper management for final approval. A

final position description is prepared, signed, and dated. Copies are given to both the incumbent and

supervisor. A copy is also filed for future reference.

Role of a Position Incumbent

Job incumbents have an important role in the process of generating accurate position descriptions.

Position incumbents can assist in the process of analysis by taking time to think about their jobs. They

should keep a diary of work-related activities or make notes about their job duties. These should include

all activities that occur during one complete cycle of duties. Typically, a year may be required to

complete all job duties. Unless job analysis occurs when budgets are being prepared, budget-related

tasks may be overlooked.

At the beginning of an analysis interview, incumbents should explain their concept of the job to the

analyst. The analyst should try to help the job incumbent focus on the facts. Job incumbents should

avoid overstating or understating characteristics of a position, such as duties, required knowledge, skills,

or abilities. Both analyst and job incumbent should remain focused and should minimize discussion of

extraneous issues. Analysts are concerned only with the position. Personal performances, fairness of

wages, complaints, and relationships with supervisors or coworkers are not relevant.

Senior managers determine the extent of a position’s impact on an organization and the boundaries of a

job. Position analysts do not determine consequences as part of their work. Such decisions are made by

senior managers. For example, salaries will not be reduced or a position eliminated because of the

analysis process. An analyst may recommend title changes or other position realignments, but the final

decisions are made by senior management.

Elements of a Position Description

A position description usually includes the following elements: job identification information, a job

summary, a principal duties performed section, and a job specification section.

Job Identification Information

Job identification information must include, at a minimum, the position title, the department location,

and the last date on which the content of the position description was verified. Other data, such as the

title of the supervisor, help to show how the position fits within a larger organization.

Job Summary

The job summary provides an overall rendering of the purpose, nature, and extent of the tasks

performed by the person in the position. In a well-constructed system, the job summary should relate to

the mission statement of the department in which the position is located and to the global mission of

the organization.

Principal Duties Performed

This section presents job facts in an organized and orderly fashion. When preparing the principal duties

performed section, a job is normally broken down into approximately five to eight different tasks or

functions for the purpose of describing the position. The job tasks should be listed in order of decreasing

frequency or occurrence. This means the task that requires the most time to complete or that is the

most critical for a given position should be listed first. For each duty listed in this section, a description

of the job’s activities (i.e., what is done on the job), how the task is accomplished, and why it is

necessary should be provided. This is a convenient method of organizing a position description. It

quickly and effectively communicates a great deal of information about a position to a reader who is

unfamiliar with the job or position.

Position descriptions should be written using sentences that are complete, clear, and brief, using action

verbs and the present tense. In preparing a job summary, the purpose of the position must be clearly

stated. This statement should be as brief as possible while still accomplishing its purpose. Words should

be carefully selected to convey the maximum amount of specific meaning. General or vague terms

should be avoided unless they are absolutely essential as a substitute for a long and detailed

explanation.

The principal duties performed section follows the job summary and includes major job tasks, as

previously outlined. Many organizations include a fourth section in their descriptions that covers job

specifications.

Job Specification

The job specification section outlines the minimum specific skills, effort, and responsibilities required of

an incumbent in the job. Job specifications provide the basis and justification for values that will be

assigned to factors used in evaluating a position. Factors are elements created by a job analyst and

subsequently used when comparing different positions within a single organization. Job specification

statements must describe the extent to which a given factor is present and the degree of difficulty

encountered in the position for that factor.

When writing job specifications, individual statements should be definite, direct, and to the point. Any

unnecessary embellishments or complicated sentences should be avoided except where they materially

add to an understanding of the details contained in the statement. Any specifications that apply only to

occasional duties should be indicated accordingly so that the percentage of time or frequency with

which the specification applies will not be overestimated.

Educational requirements for a position description must be supported by the analysis of actual duties.

Higher educational requirements may legally be included if they are such that the skills or training can

be acquired only through formal education or if it is only through formal education that an individual

can acquire a particular license or certification that may be required to pursue the given occupation.

Minimum levels of schooling must be used. For example, the formerly encountered requirement for a

“high school diploma” has given way to the necessity for one to possess the ability to “read and write

and understand simple instructions.” Artificially high educational requirements have been judged to

represent a form of discrimination. They are not only illegal but unethical. Skills must be supported by

position analysis. These are factors that are linked to compensation. Other factors that must be

compensated include the level of responsibility expected of an incumbent, the number of people

supervised, the amount of funds managed, and the resources controlled.

Job specifications are then translated into position descriptions. These descriptions are for specific job

categories, for example, Secretary 2, Nurse Aide 1, Sanitarian-in-Training, or Environmental Supervisor

1. The title indicates the major duties of a position. The number after it may indicate the level of the

position in the organizational hierarchy. Higher numbers usually denote more senior or more

responsible positions. Whereas job specifications may be recorded for individual incumbents, position

descriptions are developed for general categories of jobs. Well-written position descriptions should

contain the items listed in Table 6-1. An example of a completed job description in the described format

appears in Appendix 6-A, which can be found at the end of this chapter.

Table 6-1 Position Description Components

Component

Explanation

Title

Specific title for the job

Status

Exempt or nonexempt

Summary of duties

Major tasks to be performed

Salary range

The minimum, midpoint, and maximum for the job

Knowledge required

Specific training needed to perform the job; specific experience, both type and amount needed to

perform the job

Skills required

Specific skills expected

Effort required

Both mental and physical; any heavy lifting

Responsibility

Consequences of an error

Working conditions

Hazards or other poor working conditions

General statement

Other duties as required

A position description becomes a vitally important HR management document for managers and

supervisors in that it sets out the major duties and responsibilities for persons in specific positions. In

many cases, the position description may be detailed to the level where it can be used for performance

appraisals and employee evaluations.

The preparation and verification of a position description and its specifications compose the first step in

developing a base salary compensation program. The next step in the process involves rating positions,

or job evaluation. Job evaluation is essentially a comparison of available information for each position

with rating scales that have been established to assist in determining order among many different

positions. Job evaluation establishes the relative position of each individual position with respect to all

jobs in an organization. Typically, an HR department performs the job evaluation. If it is a new or highly

controversial position, then an interdisciplinary job evaluation committee, composed of members from

various sectors of an organization, may evaluate a job.

CONCLUSION

Many people consider position descriptions to be dry and uninteresting. Regardless, however, they are

important documents for any organization. Position descriptions should be closely linked to

organizational goals and objectives. They are used when determining compensation levels. Job

descriptions must employ a regular format, style, and language, and they should be prepared with care

and reviewed periodically for accuracy and currency.

Case Study Resolution

Returning to Julie, the health officer who began to write a job description for the new training position,

a pause is in order. Job descriptions are not essays. They are based on an analysis of the new position. A

thorough position analysis usually requires more than 30 minutes to complete.

Julie apparently intended to specify a master of public health degree as the minimum level of education

for the job incumbent. While such a decision might appear to create a good opportunity for the

sanitarian, formal schooling is not the only place where expertise in training can be obtained. An

employee with several years of work experience who has had some leadership responsibilities should be

able to become a successful trainer. Artificially high educational requirements are a form of

discrimination. Julie should be reminded that job descriptions are written for positions, not individuals.

To ignore this advice is to court problems when seeking a replacement for the proposed employee.

………………………

SPOTLIGHT ON CUSTOMER SERVICE

Customer Service and Position Descriptions

Data obtained from a convenience sample of 42 position descriptions from a number of different

healthcare and public health organizations revealed that only one of the descriptions contained a

reference to customer service. Holdings of the National Library of Medicine were checked. The search

query stipulated the presence of two search terms, “customer service” and “position description.” This

approach identified 14 articles. One of the identified articles mentioned including customer service on

position descriptions (Hill & Meyer, 1998).

If every position description in an organization included “provides good customer service,” three criteria

would be realized:

1. The single goal of addressing customer needs is clearly expressed in the program’s name: customer

service.

2. An organization requires only one customer service program.

3. Customer service is a priority activity that should be shared by all employees.

Reference

Hill, K., & Meyer, B. (1998). The worker of the future: A system outlines the competencies its employees

will need. Health Progress, 79(2), 29–32.

Discussion Points

1. What is the principal difference between “exempt” and “nonexempt” employees?

2. What are the main provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act?

3. What is a job analysis?

4. Why is a job analysis important?

5. Briefly describe the main elements of a position or job description.

6. What, if anything, does a job incumbent contribute to a position description?

7. How is the education level required for a position established?

8. Describe several uses of a position description.

9. In addition to actual duties performed, what other information is contained in a properly prepared

position description? Why is it included?

10. Why is the statement “Job descriptions are written for positions, not people” important?

Resources

Books

Byars, L. L., & Rue, L. W. (2003). Human Resource Management (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Cushway, B. (2006). The Handbook of Model Job Descriptions. London: Kogan Page.

Farr, J. M., Ludden, L. L., & Shatkin, L. (2001). Dictionary of Occupational Titles (2nd ed.). Indianapolis,

IN: JIST Works.

Mader-Clark, M. M. (2006). The Job Description Handbook. Berkeley, CA: NOLO.

Wilson, M. (2004). Volunteer Job Descriptions and Action Plans. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing.

Periodicals

Conway, J. M., & Peneno, G. M. (1999). Comparing structured interview question types: Construct

validity and applicant reactions. Journal of Business and Psychology, 13, 485–506.

Fooks, C. (2005). Health human resources planning in an interdisciplinary care environment: To dream

the impossible dream? Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership, 18(3), 26–29.

Hall, A. (2005). Dialing for jobs: How to make the most of a phone interview. Biomedical Instrumentation

and Technology, 39(5), 377–378.

Kristof-Brown, A., Barrick, M. R., & Franke, M. (2002). Influences and outcomes of candidate impression

management use in job interviews. Journal of Management, 28, 27–46.

Rosse, J. G., Stecher, M. D., Miller, J. L., & Levin, R. A. (1998). The impact of response distortion on pre-

employment personality testing and hiring decisions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 634–644.

Smaglik, P. (2005). Seeking soft skills. Nature, 438(7069), 883–885.

Van Iddekinge, C. H., Raymark, P. H., Eidson, C. E., & Attenweiler, W. (2004). What do structured

interviews really measure? The construct validity of behavior description interviews. Human

Performance, 17, 71–93.

Van Iddekinge, C. H., Raymark, P. H., & Roth, P. L. (2005). Assessing personality with a structured

employment interview: Construct-related validity and susceptibility to response inflation. Journal of

Applied Psychology, 90(3), 536–552.

Appendix 6-A

Sample Position Description

Job Title:

Community Practice Facility Controller

Unit or Section:

Administration

Status:

Exempt

Department:

Finance

Salary Range:

(intentionally left blank)

Basic Function:

Plans, directs, and coordinates, on an efficient and economical basis, all facility accounting operational

activities, including cost accounting, financial accounting, general accounting, information systems, and

general office services

Scope:

Work encompasses involvement in a broad range of accounting activities that are essential to the

maintenance of facility operations and the dissemination of financial information to the board, senior

managers, and owners

Summary of Duties:

1. Coordinates all essential accounting operational functions in a timely and accurate manner,

developing methods geared to providing management with information vital to decision-making

processes.

2. Directs the development of methods and procedures necessary to ensure adequate financial

controls within each of the facility’s operational areas.

3. Performs analysis and appraisal of the facility’s financial status.

4. Prepares recommendations with respect to future financial plans, forecasts, and policies.

5. Works closely with the chief executive officer on confidential financial matters and expedites such

matters to conclusion.

6. Directs this operation within the accounting parameters established by facility, third-party provider,

state, federal, and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), rules and regulations.

7. Manages the organizational area in a manner that fully complements and interfaces with all other

coordinating agencies or business partners.

8. Performs other duties and responsibilities as directed by the CEO.

Number of Employees:

Supervision Exercised:

Direct: General supervisors in operational areas

2–3

Indirect: Other facility supervisors, administrative and clerical personnel

15–20

Training and Education:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA) required; graduation from an accredited program

Experience:

Must have at least five years of experience in accounting with some supervisory responsibility

Responsibility:

Budget of $3,500,000 per year

All required insurance for hospital

State and federal filings for tax and other financial purposes

Effort:

Minimal physical effort required; no lifting

Mental effort requires ability to concentrate on numbers for long periods of time and to occasionally

work under severe deadlines

Working Conditions:

Well-lighted office; No exposure to hazards in the normal course of work

The above constitutes a general summary of duties. Additional duties may be required.

Approvals:

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