2020 has publicly taught employers and employees a number of lessons on pivoting and remote work. But from behind the curtain, our HR team has been carefully observing how client use of systems, standard operating procedures, communication skills, and performance feedback (or lack thereof), has helped or hurt them during this challenging time of change.
With this in mind, we introduce the first of several blogs on things employers should be improving to prepare for 2021, starting with: Job Descriptions.
Though it may seem like a simple administrative task, job descriptions serve many purposes. And while many changes that organizations put in place due to COVID-19 were meant to be temporary, employers now have to confess that some aspects of their jobs, or how they deal with challenges, have changed irrevocably.
What are these “purposes” you speak of?
- Recruiting: Developing a job description is step one in finding the right candidates. Ideally, your interview questions, hiring criteria, and screening process are based off the essential duties, required skill sets, and qualifications outlined in the job description. This helps to keep your hiring process equitable and non-discriminate. Now that you have made adjustments for remote work, flex scheduling, possible changes in product services & delivery, or safety protocols among other things, does your job description accurately reflect your hiring needs? Also, effective in 2021, states like Colorado will require that compensation be listed in job postings to promote pay equity, which means that you will need job descriptions to substantiate pay rates.
- Onboarding: Job descriptions are an effective communication tool in spelling out the details of the job requirements to new hires; saving the company time, money, and confusion during the hiring process. This clarity upfront sets the tone for the employee experience. And let’s be honest, who can afford to lose a new employee who didn’t have a good onboarding experience these days? Starting over is too expensive and time consuming not to onboard properly.
- On-The-Job: Written properly, job descriptions can be an intricate part of performance reviews and in determining compensation being given for a specific position. If your roles have changed in 2020, have you kept up written expectations for your staff? With and because of change, training may be needed, and again, job descriptions can be used as guidelines for training needs. Also, as mentioned earlier, pay transparency in some states must be tied to job descriptions which extends past the hiring process and into on-the-job compensation management.
- Trying to stay legally compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Job descriptions, that include physical requirements based on the essential duties, come to the rescue when candidates or employees request reasonable accommodation in order to successfully perform their job by giving you physical guidelines by which to evaluate someone’s restrictions.
- Trying to classify positions correctly under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? Whether someone is entitled to overtime or not STARTS with evaluating their job duties against Fact Sheets. Salary is the 2nd component. Without a job description, it may be next to impossible to self-audit if you are paying employees correctly; leaving you vulnerable to losing a wage & hour charge from the Department of Labor. Now that we have gone a year under a new salary threshold for exempt employees, DOL audits may be knocking at your door.
- Post-Employment: Lastly, job descriptions and employee handbooks together may be the difference between winning or losing an unemployment claim. Have you ever terminated an employee for unacceptable performance and then they turn around and win their unemployment claim? Do you wonder why that happens? States that frequently award unemployment for poor performance require that you: prove that the termination decision was well within the employee’s control, and that they had clear expectations and opportunities to improve that they willingly failed to meet, in order for them to find for the employer. If you want to win the charge, or at least have a fighting chance, you need a detailed job description, documented corrective feedback, and clear policies in place for each position within your organization. With the high level of unemployment thanks to COVID-19, you need every tool you’ve got to keep your business expenses down.
So, time to roll up your sleeves and get down to basics so that you can put 2020 behind you and be ready for a new year. We invite you to revisit our blog in September for more tips on preparing for 2021.
This article does not constitute legal advice and there are subtle variations in employment law as it pertains to this topic, depending on where your business operates. It is strongly suggested that you seek consultation or legal counsel before making decisions about policies.
Click the link to view the recent blog: Labor Law Updates for October 2020 or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance, and benefits.