By Xiaodan Guo (Oct 2007)
Dynamic global market, developed technology, flexible employment arrangement and many other diverse forces all have great influence on the nature of today’s economic environment, and inevitably impact on each organization and its human resource management. (Hough & Oswald 2000, pp. 632) Currently, human resource management plays an important role within the organization, which aligns with the organization’s overall strategies, and provides facilities to organization’s consistent competitive advantages. However a thorough understanding about the nature of the work is a prerequisite of all the human resource activities. Therefore, job analysis becomes essential. In the first part of the paper, the definition of job analysis, its purpose, the way it processes and many other relevant theories will be described, in order to provide a sufficient demonstration about the nature of job analysis. In the latter section, the advantages and importance of using job analysis will be addressed, and the way that job analysis benefits general recruitment and selection process will be specifically emphasized. At the end, paper reiterates the importance of the job analysis and commends that job analysis forms as the cornerstone for virtually all the major HR functions, especially recruitment and selection. The two possible future development trends of job analysis have been briefly mentioned.
Due to the dynamic environment, savage competition, remarkable transformation from industrial society to an information society and many other unstable and unpredictable factors, human resource management (HRM) plays an critical role within the organization that aligns with the organization’s overall strategies, and provides facilities to ensure organization’s consistent competitive advantages. Before any HR functions to be performed, a thorough understanding about the domain of the job is the prerequisite. Thus, job analysis will be emphasized, which form as the cornerstone for virtually all the human resource functions. (Nelson 1997, pp.40)
Referring to the HRM literature, job analysis as one of the important organization’s processes, has been widely studied. Stone (2005) describes job analysis as the ‘process that defines a job in terms of specific tasks and responsibilities and identifies the required abilities, skills and qualifications in order to perform the job successfully.’ (Stone 2005, pp.10) Heron (2005) in his study further clarifies that ‘job analysis is a detailed and systematic process that breaking down work performed into numbers of separate tasks and duties. It is a detailed process, which considers all tasks to be performed. During processing, it follows a step-by-step approach to collect, record, analysis and interpret the information collected. (Heron 2005.pp13) It is apparently that, identifying particular job duties and relevant requirements along with the importance of those duties for a given job are the key functions of job analysis, (Bartlett, 2000) and its aim is to ‘present a rich picture of how the world of work looks at a given moment.’ (Jerrold 1987, pp.64) One thing worth to know is job analysis focuses on job specifically, instead of the person employed. (Bartlett, 2000) Based on numbers of management scholars’ long-term continued contribution, current job analysis has been processed upon several fundamental principles, which include: job analysis is important for the business necessity, all jobs should be analysable and recordable; the steps involved in the job analysis process should be reasonable and simple, and could be understood both internally and externally; skills, knowledge and abilities should be operationally defined; (Clifford 1994, pp.321-327) job analysis should be designed to meet all the parties needs; and it should improve communication, accommodate frequent changes, contribute to human resource management improvement and be cost effective. (Clifford 1994, pp.335)
Validity and sufficiency about job analysis are two specifically important features, which ensure the efficiency of HRM. Therefore, in order to accomplish these two features, before actually preforming the job analysis, four important issues need to be considered. First of all, the extent of employee’s involvement for the job analysis needs to be defined. Many scholars commend that “information double-check” can be realized by more than one job incumbents’ participation, which ensures information’s accuracy. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.160) Secondly, the scope of job analysis should be determined. Different purposes lead to different requirements for the job analysis, some may extremely specific, others may quite simple; thus the analysis scope needed to be pre-determined. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.160) moreover, the exact type of job, which is going to be analysed during the process needs to be identified, whether the job is newly created, or established for a while or a job currently experiencing technology updating; (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.160) Finally, organization needs to define the appropriate job analysis approach, whether it is traditional job analysis or future-oriented job analysis. The former approach is used to collect information about how the current job is being performed; however, if organization is confronting consistent growing or technology development, the latter one may be more appropriate. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.161)
In addition to the above considerations, thorough understanding about several distinctive items that involved in job analysis process, are also very necessary, which are element, task, duty, position, job and occupation. Element refers to the simple and essential activity that constitutes one component of a given stage in the work process; (Doron & Marco 1999, pp.165) task is the combination of several elements’ predetermined outcome. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.160) duty refers to several distinct tasks that performed by an individual to complete a relevant work activity. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.160) position is the collection of duties required by one individual; (Heron 2005, pp.8) job means the sum of total duties directed at attaining a given functional goal; (Doron & Marco 1999, pp.165) Clear understanding the meaning of the above items, provides convenience for performing and controlling the job analysis process.
In order to deliver efficient analyse result, job analysis normally processes based on large amount of information. Despite of different purposes of usage, generally six categories of information will be included via the job analysis process: work activities, which identify the specific job caused actual activities, and it includes information about how, why and when the individual performs each activity; Human behaviour, which refers to the information regarding to job demands, such as sensing, communicating, or some behaviours like lifting weights; machines, tools, equipments and work aids, which relates to the information regarding tools used, materials processed, and knowledge applied during the work period; performance standards, which defines the standards for the employment appraisal purpose; job context, which indicates the information such as working conditions, working schedule and even relevant organizational and social context; finally the human requirement, which refers to the information that relating to the job’s human requirement, such as job-related knowledge, skills and abilities. (Gary 2003, pp.60)
As been mentioned previously, sufficient information is essential for job analysis, therefore develop various efficient information collecting methods will become the prerequisite. Referring to the literature, actually there are many valid and reliable collection methods, such as interviewing, observation, survey, checklist and conducting focus groups. (Academic Research Library 1995, pp. 25) The actual size, complexity, the nature of the organization and the nature of job will determine the most appropriate method for job analysis process. (Compton et al. 2006, pp.29) Interview and focus group are currently the most commonly used methods. (Compton et al. 2006, pp.30) Although observation could provide good indication about physical, sensory and intellectual attributes that required by the job, and sometimes it could be used to verify information, it lacks the information about individual’s perception when performing the job, and the affection that the relevant job impacts on the individual. Therefore, observation alone is insufficient, and should be supported by other approaches to collect information. (Heron 2005, pp33)
Generally job analysis process involves seven steps: first step is to identify the key work activities, which will be performed to produce pre-determined outcomes, products or certain relevant position responsibilities; then, based on frequency, time spending, difficulty level, and criticality of possible error, rank the importance of the work activities; in the third step, job related essential functions need to be identified and their compliance toward relevant policies or regulations should also be ensured; the following step, key competencies required by work activities will be identified, and documented in the reasonable and concise manner; after that, job readiness factors will be highlighted, which will be used for future screening purpose or assessment process. The above five steps briefly identifies the relevant process for identifying job-related information. There are two more steps left, which focuses on planning and use of job-related information. In the step six, associate the competencies with qualifications and select the desired proficiency level or associate the competencies with performance statements and selection the desired proficiency level; finally, in the last step, based on different purposes, such as recruitment, selection, assessment or performance management, the actual use of the job analysis will be planned. (HR WSD Personnel 2005)
Based on different goal of job analysis, the derivative product could be different, such as job description, job specification or job evaluation. Job description is a written statement, which sums the duties represented in the content of the job, and includes information such as job required activities or tools used to aid performance; (Doron & Marco 1999, pp.165) whereas job specification describes the qualifications and abilities required by the job, it includes information such as experiences, education level, personal characteristics and etc. Sometimes job specification has been regarded as a section of the job description; however it could be presented as a separated document entirely as well. (Gary 2003, pp.76) Referring to HRM literature, sometimes job evaluation is also been considered as the outcome of the job analysis. Job evaluation is a process that ranks jobs in order of its importance and worth, it is regardless the personalities performing the job, and plays a very important role when determining the pay levels. During the evaluation process, Job analysis delivered efficient information will be used to assist job ranking, and ensure the validity of the whole evaluation process. (Heron 2005, pp.10)
It is obviously that job analysis is vital and critical, it has the ability to provide valuable position-specific information that facilitates organization to clarify many otherwise complex issues, for instance: verifying or revising job tasks, identifying the job overlaps, in order to improve organization’s workforce effectiveness; (Jerrold 1987, pp.64); providing great convenience for contributing to the organization as a whole, particular during organization restructuring, organizational changing and technology developing; (Heron 2005, pp.17-18) evaluating appropriate compliance towards relevant policies and regulations, such as Uniform Guidelines in the United State; (HR WSD Personnel 2005, pp.7-8); preventing and resolving disputes, which greatly impact on organization’s labour relations. (Heron 2005, pp.17-18) Further more, job analysis also assists organization to manage their HR functions in a systematic and structured way, for instance, it plays as an indispensable factor within organization’s performance and reward system; it provides great helpful for evaluating and designing the training program and refining the training content by creating realistic training objectives and standards; (Jerrold 1987, pp.64) particularly, it carries tremendous administrative benefits, by assisting organizational general recruitment and selection process and keeping alert on the possible management problems; (Jerrold 1987, pp.64) Generally speaking, ‘it creates a clear picture of peak performance and provides a solid foundation for building effective HR management systems.’ (Bartlett, 2000) Under current dynamic environment, hiring and retaining desired employees becoming growingly critical, that has great influence organization’s competitive advantage. Therefore, the general recruitment and selection process will be emphasized. As been addressed previous, job analysis is the cornerstone of the major HR activities, it provides valid and solid foundation for the effective recruitment and selection practices. (Nelson 1997, pp.42) In the following section, the specific way that job analysis benefits general recruitment and selection process will be demonstrated explicitly.
Recruitment is the ‘process of seeking and attracting a pool of qualified applicants from which candidates for job vacancies can be selected.’ (Stone 2005, pp. 187) With using the sufficient information developed by job analysis, the organization could establish valid job requirements, and identify who, how and when to recruit during the recruitment process. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.144) As Clifford (1994) indicates in his study, job analysis provides significant assistance for developing job announcements, summary of job descriptions and job required level of skills, provides facilities for the recruitment procedure and enables organization to have a clear audit trail back to the critical tasks included in the job analysis data (Clifford 1994, pp.333) In other words, Irrelevant or/and distorted job information has/ have been identified by job analysis, (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.144) which enables the HR department to proceeding accurate and efficient vacancy advertisement. With using this finally produced information, both organization and individual job applicants could have a thorough understanding about the nature and content of the job, and the job required relevant knowledge, ability and skills (KASs).It is not only facilitate for HR managers to target on and attract qualified potential talents, but also convenient for individual job applicants to choose the most desired and appropriate job.
Compared with recruitment, selection is the process that choosing from a group of applicants the best qualified candidates. (Stone 2005, pp.187) In order to choose the most appropriate and qualified individual candidates, various selection methods will be involved, such as group/ individual interviews, achievement test and aptitude test. (Anthony et al. 1996, pp.179) The validity and reliability of these selection methods become essential. In order to ensure all the involved selection methods achieve these two features, inevitably job analysis is necessary. As Hartley (2004) mentions in his study, the outcome of the job analysis is critical deliverable, and could be considered as the foundation to create multiple derivative products, for instance curriculum design, interview guides self-assessment tools and even organizational assessments. (Hartley 2004, pp.20) Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that the information produced by job analysis is efficient for developing selection methods. Since job analysis does not contain irrelevant or/and distorted information, thus job analysis enables to specifically develop the valid, fair and reliable selection methods that appropriate for the particular selection process; additionally, it will also enable to explicitly show the clear documented link between the content of the selection methods and the job. (Academic Research Library 1995, pp.25) Gray (2003) provides an example in his study that, the best interview follows structure or checklist format, where the structure and the checklist are developed based on the sufficient job analysis, therefore they are valid and reliable. (Gary 2003, pp.64)
Select the right person for the right position is specifically important for the organization in nowadays. Inappropriate recruitment and selection not only waste organization’s time and effort, but also diminish its profitability and impair it competitive advantage. Therefore, job analysis is vital and critical, not only for particular general recruitment and selection process, but also for the organization itself. As Jassim (n.d.) reiterates in his study that, job analysis is specifically vital for organizational consistent competitive advantage. Sufficient job analysis enable organization to target on potential talents that with requisite knowledge, skills and abilities; once those talents are employed by the organization will inevitably add value to the organization, which is rare and inimitable. From organizational employers’ perspective, good quality of job analysis assist targeting and attract potential recruits; whereas from the individual applicants’ perspective, sufficient job analysis helps them to be more convenient to make up their mind about whether to apply for the job or not. (Jassim n.d.)
Job analysis is the process that defines a job in terms of specific tasks and responsibilities and identifies the abilities, skills and qualifications needed to perform it successfully. (Stone 2005, pp.10) Accurate and efficient job analysis provides great facilities for various organizational activities, and assists many valuable position-specific information that facilitates organization to deal with many complex issues (Heron 2005, pp.17-18). It also provides solid foundation for the major HR decisions, and contributes greatly to: selection and hire, performance evaluation, training and development, compensation, job design, work force projections, and work force reduction or expansion decisions. (Clifford 1994, pp.325) Its contribution to the general recruitment and selection process is specifically significant, that it could capture the ‘flexibility, interdependency and diversity nature of the work’, (Nelson 1997, pp.44) and produce sufficient analysis, in order to ensure the efficiency and validity of the recruitment and selection process.
Currently, due to various dynamic factors, such as restructured global market, updated policies and more diversified and flexible employment arrangement, all inevitably have important implication for each organization and its human resource management. (Hough & Oswald 2000, pp.632) With fully considering the changing nature of the environment, many scholars propose two general trends for job analysis future development. Technically, job analysis technique could be subcategorized into two groups, which are work-oriented and worker-oriented. (Gatewood & field 1994 cited in Nelson 1997, pp.42) The former focus on the various job related tasks; whereas the latter emphasizes more on broad human behaviours involved in work activities. (Nelson 1997, pp.42) Under current dynamic environment featured with changing nature of the job, worker-oriented seems more appropriate, which provides the organization’s flexibility needs, (Nelson 1997, pp.42) and focus more on tasks and cross-function skills of workers. (Hough & Oswald 2000, pp.632) In his study, Compton (2006) expresses similar perspective, that there is the trend in the structure of jobs is overtaking traditional approaches to job analysis. There is a trend for more emphasizing on the consequence of the work instead of the process, and individuals trend to have roles rather than jobs. (Compton et al. 2006, pp.41) Except that, he further proposes that the other trend is for the job description, which is to be incorporated into contracts of employment and agreed by both parties before performing any job. (Compton et al. 2006, pp.41)
Generally, job analysis is important and necessary and should be emphasized.
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