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Position descriptions – How do they help you run a better business?

Great position descriptions (PDs) are the key to any organisation’s HR Management – they are the first and most fundamental step in any HR Management process. A substantial number of employers don’t consider a position description to be necessary, because in most cases they don’t understand the importance of it.

A PD is a critical tool in the performance management process, as it can form part of the recruitment and performance management plan. It should never be assumed that an employee knows automatically what is expected of them in their role. It is important to ensure employees are well aware of the expectations of their position, not only the duties of the role, but also the expected behaviour and performance level. They help employees to understand their jobs, where the job sits in the organisation and why they exist. Research shows that job clarity contributes substantially to engagement and retention of employees.

Writing a PD helps define the duties of the role, experience and skills required by the employee and the level of authority they will hold.

PDs can include behavioural competencies, as well as the duties of the job and key responsibilities. They can serve as a benchmark for measuring performance; the basis of the performance appraisal system and for the employee to know when they are doing a “good job”, therefore it is recommended it include some form of performance measures such as targets, KPIs etc.

Good practice human resources management indicates PDs should be developed for all roles; no role is too junior or too senior to be exempted from role clarity or measurement. It is wise to create a template for each role in the business; complete it for the position, not the individual. If the position is left vacant in the template it can be customised to suit a specific role and individual employee. It is advisable to have 6-8 behavioural competencies included in each position description as this can be useful when performance managing for behavioural issues.

To develop a PD it is important to start by defining the role. Get a clear understanding of the role and the tasks to be completed. Consider what tasks are undertaken, what skills and abilities are needed to perform the role, whether there are any particular qualifications or experience required and the responsibilities they will have. Once you have defined the role, you can use the information to develop the PD.

To assist you in the task of formulating position descriptions Gold Seal has a number of tools and templates available for purchase.

Necessary qualifications and licences

Some positions, due to the nature of the work performed, require the incumbent to hold specific licences and qualifications and/or to undergo a police or bankruptcy check. Where a business can demonstrate that the need for a police and/or bankruptcy check is supported by an operational requirement, it is recommended that it is inserted into the PD. This can assist the employer in cases where the employee loses the required qualification or licences. For example, in the financial services environment this is of high relevance to RG 146 qualification requirements.

An up to date PD can be a very useful tool – as you can see it serves more than one purpose. A great way to keep them up to date is to review the position description as part of your performance appraisal process.

Original article published Gold Seal, a recognised leading provider of Compliance, Human Resources and Training and Education services to general insurance intermediaries and distributors.