Boost Your Business: Job descriptions

A job description outlines the basic function and responsibilities of a specific job title. It typically includes the tasks, duties, goals, and expectations for the person in the position. An accurate job description also includes information about working conditions, tools, equipment used, and the job’s relationship to other positions. An ideal job description includes work hours, specific soft skills that are important to succeed (communication skills, telephone manners, etc.), and any “special and occasional duties” that might fall into the position parameters.

Well, here we are in 2020 and most people’s jobs have changed this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many businesses operate. Some employers are shifting workers' job duties to adjust to a new normal. Most workers have little recourse if their job duties or hours have changed because of the pandemic, even if they're unhappy with their new job assignments.

Changing job roles

Employers can fire an employee at any time for any reason. They can reduce hours and change pay. On the flip side, workers can leave a job at any time, usually without having to give notice. What employers must remember is that any change to a worker's job duties must be "reasonable." You cannot expect an employee to take on responsibilities for which they have no training or understanding of that job. Especially if the job is in a position higher than what they have now, and the employer is not offering a higher wage. But even if the employer is challenged legally, given COCID-19, it's likely that employers changing employee job descriptions to fit the new normal would prevail (unless there's discrimination based on race, gender, age, or another protected group.)

The Americans with Disabilities Act also requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for workers if they have a medical condition or disability that affects their ability to perform certain job functions.

Changing Descriptions

Common sense assigns the writing of job descriptions to human resources but be realistic in realizing that HR should not be the only piece of this duty. It takes a team including owners and managers to understand the essential functions of each position. In reality, it depends on your company’s resources and subject matter experts. Sometimes it is prudent to bring in an outside party to assist as many times the owner is the sole responsible person and is too close to the business to truly see each jobs’ exact requirements. Many times, the owner feels if they are a “jack of all trades” than their employees are too.

Keep in mind that employees fulfilling each position should compare the job description with their daily activities when preparing for their periodic review and to ensure that both they and the employer and correct in what the job requires. And managers should evaluate the description accuracy as part of the performance management process.

About Maria Novak Dugan

Maria L. Novak Dugan is president of Marketing Solutions & Business Development, a firm in West Chester, PA, offering creative marketing services and goal implementation for small & medium sized businesses. For more information, contact Maria at 610-405-0633 or or visit She has more than 20 years experience in the Marketing & Sales Industry...13 of those as the sole Sales Representative for a Pennsylvania payroll company growing their client base by over 500 percent. Maria Novak Dugan is a member of the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce, Latino Luncheon Group of West Chester, Neighbors in Business of the Glen Mills Area, News4Women, and The Associated Press. She is also the former Managing Director of the Delaware Chapter of eWomenNetwork. Creating, developing, and conducting this division of a national organization strengthened her knowledge of networking, event planning, fundraising, and small-business development.



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