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  • Writer's pictureMOSH JD

The Critical Role Job Descriptions Play in Organizational Success

Updated: Feb 20

Statistics show why it's vital to get job descriptions right early and often.


The importance of the job description is often understated and underappreciated. As the nexus between employer and employee, the job description sets the stage for a seamless and mutually beneficial relationship.


When done right, the job description can have a significant positive impact on organizational productivity, culture, growth, and more.


Conversely, inaccurate job descriptions can have negative consequences that often reach far beyond the HR department.


In this article, we dive into the far-reaching impact of job descriptions, citing statistics that reinforce the high cost of inaccuracy, benefits of accurate job descriptions, and why getting them right from the start is so important for organizational success.


The Wide Reach of Job Descriptions


Job description on a sticky note

Job descriptions are known as a recruitment tool to convey the roles, responsibilities, competencies, and requirements of a position.


However, the impact the job description has goes far beyond the descriptor of a position.



Below is a list of areas and disciplines where the job description has significant influence. Click on any link to navigate directly to that section.



Recruitment and Candidate Selection


Enhancing the Candidate Experience

A vital component of the recruitment process, clear job descriptions serve as the foundation of a positive candidate experience.


Unclear or incorrect descriptions may result in dissatisfaction by creating expectations for a role that doesn't align with reality, potentially damaging the company's reputation in the eyes of both new hires and prospective candidates. As much as 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, but only 36% of candidates say the job descriptions they were provided are clear.


Shrinking this gap will drastically improve your candidate experience and help facilitate trust with new employees early on.



Avoiding Wrong Fit Hires


These mistakes can be costly as it is estimated that mis-hires can cost 5X the candidates salary or more.


While job descriptions are not the sole determinant of a "bad hire," they can significantly contribute to such outcomes when candidates lacking the essential skills or competencies for the role are recruited. Unclear job duties contribute to misalignments, placing candidates in roles unsuited to their skill set.


This not only diminishes job satisfaction but also contributes to the high costs associated with employee turnover.



Failing to Attract the Right Candidates

76% of recruiters admit one of their biggest challenges is attracting best-fit candidates. Inaccurate job postings can deter qualified applicants from applying.


They can also attract candidates who are not fit for the role.


Eventually, poor experiences can result in the company developing a bad reputation which can make attracting candidates even harder for talent acquisition professionals. According to LinkedIn 75% of candidates won’t accept a role if they sense the company has a “bad reputation”. In addition, inaccurate job descriptions result in misalignments between required skills and candidate competencies.


According to a Harvard Business Review study 61% of job descriptions contained unrealistic expectations or vague requirements, which resulted in a mismatch between candidates and actual job roles. As a result, According to CareerBuilder 75% of companies have hired the wrong person for the position, citing inaccurate job descriptions and human error as significant factors.


Ultimately this leads to high turnover, low employee satisfaction, and excessive costs in the hiring process. The job description is foundational to attracting candidates who fit what the company truly needs.


Getting job descriptions right from the start will create massive efficiencies and greatly reduce the challenges recruiters face. 



Time Lost in the Hiring Process with Unqualified Candidates

Ambiguous job summaries lead to applicants from unsuitable candidates, squandering valuable recruitment resources.


On average, 42% of applicant resumes received don’t meet the skills requirements for the role and large organizations receive over 40 applicants per job while smaller orgs receive over 25 per job


Poorly written job descriptions can lead to significant time lost in reviewing resumes, responding to, and evaluating candidates which impacts time to hire, quality of hire, and recruiter efficiency metrics.


 

Employee Onboarding


First Impressions are Everything - The Job Description Impacts Employee Onboarding


Nearly half (44%) of employees have regrets about accepting a job within just one week of employment.


An accurate job description is foundational to ensuring the job is what the new hire expected. By pairing accurate job descriptions with a solid onboarding process, companies can help ensure higher satisfaction and retention.


Even the very first day can have a dramatic impact. When hiring managers were completely ready for the new hire's first day, candidate satisfaction increased an average of 38%.


 

Performance Management & Employee Development


Mitigating Poor Performance & Fostering Employee Satisfaction

Precise and reliable job descriptions play a crucial role in enabling employees to meet expectations and perform optimally.


Realistic job responsibilities not only contribute to a positive work atmosphere but also help reduce turnover rates, fostering an environment of engagement and professional development. When job descriptions are outdated or inaccurate it becomes difficult or even impossible to use them as a benchmark for performance.


This can hurt employee satisfaction and make it challenging to create career paths that provide employees with an understanding of the internal mobility possibilities at your company. 



Defining Career Paths

Workers who do not have visibility into internal career opportunities are 61% more likely to plan to quit their job.


Articulating competency-based career paths within the organization not only improves employee retention but it also attracts candidates seeking long-term growth and advancement. 73% of workers today want to know about career opportunities inside their organization.


By using job description competencies to create clearly defined career paths, employees can significantly boost retention and employee satisfaction. 


 

Fair & Competitive Compensation 


Ensuring Fair Compensation

Companies without a defined job description management process or ones that have a messy job description management process may put themselves at risk of fair pay issues.


Let’s say a hiring manager creates a job description without collaboration from his HR team and other stakeholders in the company.


If the job description varies too much, or conflicts with another similar role, there could be a pay equity gap created, leaving the company at risk.



Maintaining Competitive Comp

Inaccurate job descriptions may inhibit your team’s ability to accurately price a job based on the requirements of the role vs third-party compensation benchmark data (aka salary surveys).


This can result in the inability to hire qualified talent. If you list the job salary range in the description (which 61% of applicants want) the inaccurate range may be an application deterrent for qualified top talent who expected a different range based on their skills & qualifications. 


This could also lead to candidates thinking the company pays below market rates, negatively affecting the company's reputation as an employer of choice.


 

Team Dynamics & Productivity


Fostering Clarity

Clear job descriptions contribute to a comprehensive understanding of roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion within the organization.


When employees experience role clarity, overall work performance increases by 25% and a majority of those employees (75%) report being more passionate and happy about their job.



Setting Clear Expectations

Accurate job descriptions enable employers to establish clear expectations, promoting accountability and team performance.


A study done by the University of Washington found that almost half (46%) of respondents reported a high level of discrepancy between their actual job role and the job description with 80% saying there was at least some form of discrepancy.


The study found that individuals reporting high discrepancies had significantly higher levels of job-related stress.


Providing accurate job descriptions that set clear expectations drastically lowers this stress and boosts productivity.  Reducing confusion around job roles also enhances communication, morale and positively impacts team productivity.


 

Regulatory Compliance


Preventing Discrimination

Clear and precise job descriptions help avoid unintentional discriminatory hiring practices. Oftentimes discrimination in a job description can be seen in unintended verbiage or bias in a job description that targets or limits a specific group.


For example, the federal government has warned employers against using terms like "recent college graduates" or "college students" in postings because they could be considered evidence of age bias.


However, evidence of discrimination can come in many forms and can be a result of a sudden change in job requirements that affect things like family medical leave.


Other examples of possible discrimination that could be related to a job description include sudden adverse changes in performance reviews, changes in work duties or workload increases, new and additional reporting or managerial layers for specific employees. 



Addressing Misclassification

Accurate job descriptions are often unappreciated for their ability to protect employers from misclassification issues and lawsuits.


Failing to have a strong job description can lead to massive liability, especially around FLSA issues related to overtime, meal breaks, and off the clock work. Walmart, one of the country's largest employers, found itself in this situation when it misclassified 4,500 managers and coordinators nationwide.


Employees were entitled to $5.3 Million in penalties. 



EEO and ADA Compliance

The EEOC (equal employment opportunity commission) enforces the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals who have, have had, or are perceived to have a disability.


Although not required, having an ADA-compliant job description can help defend against potential claims and make hiring more equitable.


Having sections dedicated to essential job functions, working conditions, physical demands, and including a EEO & Accessibility statement can help organizations create more inclusive and compliant job descriptions. 


 

Turnover & Employee Engagement 


Mitigating Increased Turnover

As mentioned earlier- Harvard Business review found that as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. Furthermore, Gallop found that as much as 85% of employees are not engaged at work.


Inaccurate job descriptions contribute to employee dissatisfaction and regret when starting their job, which helps contribute to disengagement, higher turnover rates, and increased hiring costs.


With as much as 42% of employers admitting to needing revisions on job descriptions because they were attracting the wrong candidates; regular reviews of job descriptions are needed to ensure continuous accuracy.


Statistics show that the clarity gained from accurate job descriptions make employees 84% more likely to stay with their current company. 


Clear expectations and fair compensation also contribute to sustained employee engagement, while maintaining a productive work environment.


 

Employee Morale & Job Satisfaction


Curbing Poor Job Satisfaction & Poor Morale


Poor job satisfaction can start from regret employees feel during onboarding, especially after being hired with an inaccurate job description.


This leads to frustration and unfulfillment that impacts overall morale and productivity.


 

Brand Representation


Brand Reputation’s importance in Hiring

82% of potential employees will consider your brand reputation before applying for an open position with 69% of job seekers saying they would reject a job offer if it was from a company with a bad reputation.


Candidates are looking for clear and consistent communication in the recruiting process - a big part of clear communication starts with setting the proper expectations with an accurate job description.


 

Workforce Efficiency


Time as a Valuable Resource

Ill-defined roles necessitate additional time for both employers and candidates, impeding the recruitment process.


Crafting clear and accurate job descriptions streamlines this process and fosters positive relationships with employees.


 

Takeaways

In the intricate dance of recruitment, where talent meets opportunity, the importance of accurate job descriptions emerges as a linchpin for organizational success.


As we've explored the multifaceted impact throughout this feature, it becomes evident that the foundation of clear and precise job descriptions extends far beyond mere administrative detail.



From Candidate Experience to Employee Engagement: A Continuous Thread

At the inception of the recruitment journey, precise job descriptions lay the groundwork for a positive candidate experience.


By aligning expectations, organizations foster an environment where both employer and employee can thrive. Positive effects cascade towards reduced turnover, heightened employee satisfaction, and increased team morale.



Navigating Legal Waters: A Shield Against Potential Pitfalls

In an era of heightened legal scrutiny, accurate job descriptions act as a safeguard against potential legal issues.


By ensuring compliance with labor laws and steering clear of discriminatory practices, organizations create a robust shield that protects both employees and employers.



Building Teams: The Role of Clarity in Team Dynamics & Performance

The impact of accurate job descriptions transcends individual roles, influencing team dynamics and communication.


By providing clarity on responsibilities and expectations, organizations promote accountability, enhance communication, and lay the groundwork for a cohesive and productive team.



Strategies for Success: A Blueprint for Precision

The strategies outlined for crafting accurate job descriptions serve as a blueprint for success in the ever-evolving landscape of human resources.


From ensuring accuracy and clarity to outlining necessary qualifications and defining career paths, organizations have the tools to attract, retain, and develop the best talent.



Embracing Precision for a Prosperous Future

As we look to the future of HR, one thing remains clear: precision in job descriptions is not a mere formality but a strategic imperative.


It shapes the narrative of organizational success by creating an environment where everyone understands their roles, feels motivated to contribute their best work, and sees ample opportunities for growth. By investing time and effort in creating and regularly updating accurate job descriptions, organizations pave the way for a prosperous and harmonious workplace.


In this journey toward precision, employers not only attract the right candidates but also foster a culture of trust, engagement, and continuous development.


In essence, the future of HR lies in the hands of those who understand that accuracy in job descriptions is more than a task—it's a commitment to building a workplace where each individual can thrive, contribute meaningfully, and embrace a future of shared success.


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