The significance of job design is to develop jobs that fit effectively into the organizational workflow. The narrower focus of job analysis focuses on utilizing a formal system to collect data concerning what people do in their jobs and then use the collected data to generate job specifications as well as job descriptions. The most fundamental building block of Human Resource management, job analysis, is a systematic way of collecting and analyzing information concerning the context, content, and human requirements of the jobs. Moreover, the use of job analysis to document HR activities is significant since the legal defensibility of an employer’s selection and recruiting processes, employee disciplinary actions, performance appraisal system, and pay practices partly depend on the foundation of job analysis (Mathis and Jackson, 2008, p. 174).
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Job analysis and its role in human resource management
Job and role analysis is the stage that follows selection and recruitment, and it is important in identifying the tasks that the new employees are expected to undertake. It may be probably unnecessary to analyze jobs every time a vacancy occurs in organizations with relatively buoyant product markets and have high levels of labor turnover, and where recruitment occurs on a frequent and continuing basis. Nevertheless, it is important to scrutinize whether or not existing job descriptions, person competency, or specifications profiles are appropriate for future needs (Oswald, 2003, p. 56). This may reveal out that it is not necessary to carry out further recruitment or that the type of job and person needed differs from expectations.
Job analysis is the process of collecting, analyzing, and setting out information concerning the contents of jobs to provide the foundation for job description as well as data for recruitment, training, job evaluation along performance management. The emphasis on collecting information differentiates job analysis from descriptions, with the latter being viewed as a result of the former. In addition, the term ‘role analysis’ becomes more accurate and meaningful to use as it centers on the importance of the activity to the firm along with emphasizing the purpose of the role, as opposed to individual components. Moreover, the methods used to analyze roles and jobs differ in terms of their sophistication, cost, convenience as well as acceptability. The methods require to be accepted by the staff involved and should be able to gain their agreement along with commitment (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005, p. 165).
Three main methods can be used to conduct job analysis which include observation, interviews, and questionnaires. However, no method is intrinsically better, so choices need to be made based on the jobs to be analyzed as well as the context in which the analysis takes place.
Observation: It is the most uncomplicated and readily accessible method, and forms a component of job analysis even if other techniques are being used. It is as well one of the cheapest methods, and in times of problems, clarification can be sought directly from the job-holder. However, it may be tricky to deduce exactly what tasks are being undertaken, particularly if there is a high intellectual or cognitive content of the job, and the fact that someone is being observed has an impact on job behavior.
Interview: this ranges from the relatively unstructured to the more standardized format where similar questions are used for each job-holder. For unstructured interviews, job-holders are asked to describe their job while the interviewer probes to get more detail. Interviews are mainly preferred since they are cost-effective, convenient and offer the opportunity for interaction between interviewer and interviewee. However, it can be biased, less reliable and the interviewer may not have the required skills (Best et al. 2006 p. 51).
Questionnaires and checklists: These are the most sophisticated methods that can be used as they frequently make use of computer packages to analyze data. The most widely used in the USA are the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) and the Work Profiling System (WPS) (Marchington and Wilkinson, 2005, p. 166).
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The outcome from job analysis (for instance in VA) provides the foundation for various definitions or descriptions of the jobs to be filled. This can be very precise or relatively broad. Each firm’s job analysis function is a rich source of data. Job analysis provides some information concerning the job that can be used for recruiting, learning and development assessment, and performance management. Job descriptions assist the managers to articulate the most important outcomes needed from a worker undertaking a specific job (Anonymous, 2009, p. 15).
Overall purpose: this is information on why the job or role exists and what the job-holder is expected to contribute.
Organization: to whom the job-holder will be reporting and who to report to the job-holder.
Key outcome areas and accountabilities: what the job holder is needed to accomplish in every main element of the role.
Competency requirements: the particular technical competencies attached to the job or role; what the job-holder is expected to know and to be able to do (Armstrong, 2006, p. 188).
How job analysis and job descriptions can be used effectively in the VA case
In Veterans Health Administration, job analysis and job description will be effective if systematic methods are applied in the collection of the data required to generate a role profile. The use of the organization structure, existing job descriptions as well as procedures or training manuals that provide information about the job will be very effective. In the VA case, it is important to involve the contributions of managers as they give fundamental information about the overall purpose of the role, the key outcome areas as well as the technical competencies required. It is also important to the job-holders similar questions concerning their roles (Jones, Steffy, and Bray, 1991 p. 187).
The use of competency analysis is essential and uses behavioral analysis to develop the behavioral dimensions the affect role performance and generate competency frameworks in VA cases. Functional analysis or a version of it can be utilized to define the technical competencies.
- Anonymous. (2009). Plan for current and future staffing needs by writing job description. IOMA’s Payroll Manager’s Report 9 (8), 15.
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- Best, R. G. et al. (2006). Task Overlap among Primary Care Team Members: An Opportunity for System Redesign? /PRACTITIONER APPLICATION. Journal of Healthcare Management, 51(5), 295-306, discussion 306-7.
- Jones, J. W., Steffy, B. D. and Bray, D. W. (1991). Applying psychology in business: the handbook for managers and human resource professionals. New York, Lexington Books. Web.
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