How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively

by I - Wei Chang and Brian H. Kleiner How to Conduct Job Analysis Job Analysis is a systematic process of obtaining valid job information to aid management in decision-making. Each component of this definition is critical; for example “systematic process” means the job analysis is carefully planned to meet specific objectives. Systematic process is implemented in such a manner that it ensures employee co-operation, and utilises job analysis methods that are acceptable within the human resource management field. The word “valid” indicates the method by which the information was obtained for job analysis is accurately followed. Sometimes when job analysis is inadequately conducted, it results in incomplete or inaccurate information. “Valid” also means the information obtained meets the purpose for which the job analysis was conducted. Finally, job analysis provides critically important information that will guide management in decision-making. In this article, the result of job analysis will be used in job evaluation and decision-making of compensation. The purpose of job analysis is to elicit information pertaining to various types of jobs. H. E. Roff and T.W. Watson (1961) of Management Selection Services Ltd suggests two stages: “(1) to collect and record evidence of the nature of the job; (2) to sift this recorded data to discover those aspects of the job which are important in relation to the problems which have prompted the undertaking of the job analysis”. Most importantly, the need to gain the trust, confidence, and co-operation of those whose jobs are being placed under scrutiny. The job analyst is naturally perceived by others with suspicion since his/her investigations are going to be used as the basis for job evaluation. It would be easy for him/her to be regarded as an enemy because his/her reports could lead to an undermining of an individual’s status, relative pay; and organisational position. Good communication is essential. People should be elucidated as to the purpose of the exercise, the reasons why it is necessary, what it is hoped will be achieved, ways in which information obtained will be collated and processed, and how decisions affecting their jobs will be arrived at. It is better for them to be invited either directly or through representatives to contribute to the formation of that policy and its execution. Sifting the important from the trivial aspects of a job during and after analysis is really what the whole exercise is about. Attention finally should be directed at the significant differences between jobs, having first collected all the relevant information necessary to form a complete picture of any particular unit of work. There are no hard and fast rules that can be applied; at

How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively

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How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively

root it is a matter of judgement. A common danger is to collect too much information, making it difficult to see the wood for the trees. On the whole, this is a more common pitfall than making just a cursory examination and ending up with a sketchy, incomplete picture. In making the analysis, if a fact is unimportant, it should immediately be discarded. To provide a framework on which to structure both the analysis and the information obtained, it is useful to look at the job from two points of view: first, the duties and responsibilities entailed; second, the skills and personal attributes necessary for the successful execution of that job. What an individual does and what personal attributes he needs to bring to the job provide us with the dimensions critical for making evaluative decisions between the relative worth of one job and another. The main steps in the process of job analysis can be set out as follows: * Identify and isolate the component tasks in a job Some jobs may consist of a large number of tasks and sub-tasks, and it may be convenient to group some of these into task ‘taxonomies’ where there is sufficient in common between them, to reduce the complexity of the analysis to manageable proportions. * Examine how tasks are performed For example, the skills required; order in which they have to be exercised; whether tasks are done in isolation or as part of a team effort, etc. * Identify the main areas of responsibility Identify the main duties involved, both regular and occasional. Scale the main duties according to their difficulty, frequency and importance to the job as a whole. * Note the prevailing working conditions in respect of the physical, social and financial aspects of the job. Physical environment involves the temperature, noise, dirt, danger, or comfortable office facilities. Social environment is regard to whether in teams, shifts, isolated work, etc. Financial conditions should concern about if a payment system is already in existence, the basic wage rate or salary currently obtaining, and any bonus, incentive schemes, fringe benefits, etc., which may apply. * Identify the personal demands which a job makes on an individual incumbent Demands can be categorised into five criteria. First, physical demands, like muscular energy, sedentary work, travel, hours of work, appearance, bearing, speech, any basic medical requirements, etc. Second, intellectual de-

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mands, such as verbal or numerical ability. Another demand is skills, such as any particular psycho-motor, social or diplomatic skills called for. Fourth, experience is a necessary criteria. Some jobs call for considerable occupational experience, know-how or previously held levels of responsibility, control or decision making. The last demand is personality factors. For instance, such things called for in the job as the ability to work through other people, to provide leadership, to initiate, to work without close supervision, to possess a degree of extraversion, or the kind of temperament to cope with dull, and routine procedures. There are, of course, many different ways in which job analysis can be tackled. Some cover the information which would normally go into a job description, and some cover the main points of a job specification. The suggestion here is that a comprehensive job information sheet should be compiled for each job. It does not matter whether it is called a job description or job specification, provided all relevant information about the job is recorded clearly, accurately, and so far as is possible, with brevity. There are various ways in which information can be obtained. The main methods are interview, observation, questionnaires, critical incidents, and diaries. Interview is the most flexible and productive approach for the job analyst to conduct a personal interview with the job holder. Properly structured, the interview can elicit information about all aspects of the job, the nature and sequence of the various component tasks. Much of the job activity is obvious, and not too much is hidden in the form of mental processes or in the exercise of individual discretion. It is unlikely that simple observation will produce all the answers, but it can always be backed up with interview and discussion. With a large number of similar jobs of a routine clerical nature, it may well be expeditious and time-saving to structure a questionnaire to be circulated to all employees in those jobs. The questionnaire must be tailor-made to elicit the right sort of responses and useful information. The replies can then be sorted, and any further details, misunderstanding, gaps or disagreements can be investigated during the interview. The critical incident technique (Flanagan, 1954) is an attempt to identify the more important, or ‘noteworthy’, aspects of job behaviour. Originally it was developed as a check-list rating procedure for performance appraisal, but its merits lend itself to other investigatory activities such as job analysis for the purpose of job evaluation. In this latter context, the idea is to highlight the critical aspects of a job which are crucial to its successful performance. It can usefully be applied to multi-task jobs as a means for establishing priorities between job elements. The diary method is a self-reporting analysis of the activities engaged in over a period and the amount of time spent on all of them, recorded in the form of a diary. It can become tedious and onerous for the job incumbent, and is probably the method most open to abuse and faking.

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How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively

The process of job analysis is much more difficult than might appear at first sight. The conventional techniques listed all have limitations. For managerial jobs, the matter can become very complicated, and it may well be necessary to construct the analysis in terms of the criteria by which the job is to be evaluated, for example, problem-solving, accountability, and know-how. Job analysis can be misleading, therefore, the totality of a job is greater than the sum of its individual parts. For the purpose of job evaluation, the evidence from job analysis should be treated with caution. Job Evaluation A major purpose for job analysis is to obtain information for a job evaluation project that may be organisation-wide or simply consist of an individual employee’s request for his or her job to be re-evaluated. Also, the organisation may want to implement a new pay system such as one with pay incentives. In pay system studies, the job analysis planning must include such items as the compensable factors used in the job evaluation. For example, the Equal Pay Act states male and female employees must be paid the same for jobs requiring equal skill, effort, responsibility, and performed under similar working conditions. If these compensable factors are used in the job evaluation, then the job analysis planning process must include them. Evaluation plans used to translate job duties into relative job worth may take different forms. Essentially, however, the principal measuring techniques for determining relative job worth differ from one another in three ways. First, what is measured - the whole job or identifiable elements of the job. Second, whether or not point values are assigned to establish quantitative measures of job value. Third, how jobs are measured - against other jobs, or against a pre-described yard-stick. Application of these techniques can result in four basically different types of job evaluation plans. These are, and have been for many years, the ranking system, the classification system, point evaluation plans, and factor comparison plans. Combinations of these systems can also be used. The Ranking System The most widely used method of job evaluation is the ranking system. Under this plan, a job is ranked against other jobs, without assigning point values. Evaluators simply compare two jobs and judge which is more difficult. Once this determination has been made, a third job is compared with the first two and similar decision made. The process is repeated until all jobs have been ranked, from the most difficult to the least difficult. The greatest advantage of the ranking system is its simplicity. The evaluation process is quick and inexpensive. Also, the ranking system uses a jobagainst-job comparison, which is the most accurate method of evaluation, because it is far easier to judge which of two jobs is more difficult than it is to judge the absolute difficulty of either.

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On the other hand, the system does little to guide the judgment of evaluators. There is a tendency to judge each job on the basis of its dominant characteristics, which can result in inconsistencies. In addition, it is extremely difficult to explain or justify the results of ranking to employees or managers, because there is no record of the judgements of evaluators. Finally, the ranking system can indicate only that one job is more difficult than another, not how much more difficult it is. The Point System Under the point evaluation system, various factors which measure a job are selected and defined. A separate yard-stick for different degrees of each factor is prepared. A job is then rated against every yard-stick. In essence, this is the same process as the classification system except that the job is evaluated on a separate scale for each factor. In addition, each degree of each factor has point weightings. Point evaluation systems provide a written record of judgements made. In addition, the degrees in each factor provide a guideline for judgements. Because points are assigned for each factor, each job can be given a total numeric point value, which provides a measure of how much more difficult one job is than another. The main problems of the point evaluation system are the difficulty of selecting relevant factors, of defining degrees for each factor and assigning appropriate point values. In addition, there is the problem of determining the correct number of degrees. Ideally, just enough degrees are established to identify minimum measurable differences in each factor. Finally, the various degree definitions must be written so as to serve as guides that are both useful and meaningful in terms of the jobs being measured in each specific company. Factor Comparison The final basic approach used in traditional job evaluation is the factor comparison system. In this system, factors must also be identified, as under the point system. Within each factor, a ranking system rather than a classification system is used. That is, for each factor, the evaluator ranks all jobs from highest to lowest. Various degrees result, but they are not defined or described. Points are assigned to each of these degrees. Factor comparison has two basic advantages. First, it uses the job-by-job comparison technique. Second, it does not involve the semantic problems encountered in defining factor degrees. However, because of the lack of definitions, it is always difficult to explain the results of factor comparison evaluations to employees or supervisors.

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Combination Systems How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively In practice, most companies use combination plans. The most typical approach is to use a combination factor comparison and point system. In this way, the advantages of each system are obtained, and the difficulties of each are neutralised. In the combination system, there are five steps involved. Firstly, factors are selected and defined. These are usually the five basic factors of responsibility, authority, knowledge, skill, and working conditions. Secondly, benchmark jobs are selected and priced if they can be priced in the market, and all benchmark jobs are ranked under each factor. This includes both those which were priced in the market-place and those which were not. Ranking of market-priced jobs, however, must reflect market pay relationships. Ranking of other jobs is done primarily by comparison with jobs that have been priced. Thirdly, points are assigned to each degree of each factor on the basis of a standard system. The relative maximum weight of each factor is a function of the number of degrees established in the ranking process. Fourthly, each degree is defined. This is done in terms of the company jobs that have been ranked in each degree. Finally, all other jobs are evaluated, by comparison against degree definitions and on a job-against-job ranking system, particularly using benchmark jobs priced under each factor. Management of Compensation Compensation is a management method. The programme and practices of compensation should be an integral part of the company’s effort to manage effectively those who work in the firm. Employees receive their pay in various forms. Each form or element of compensation serves a different objective for the company. Each has evolved over time to deal with specific company needs. Each element of compensation also tends to meet different employee aspirations or objectives. The elements of compensation may be categorised in six ways. There are premium payments, bonus payments, long-term income payments, pay for time not worked, benefits, and estatebuilding plans. Each of these elements is more applicable to some groups of employees than to others. For instance, overtime is applied only to operations persons. Long-term income plans are typically restricted to higher-paid persons. There are also non-financial rewards, which are difficult to categorise. Basically, some company characteristics represent a form of remuneration to employees. The work done and the work environment can have value, even though no monetary payments are involved. Other characteristics whose value cannot readily be expressed in terms of dollars but which to the employee represent income value or remuneration include titles and various perquisites.

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While each company’s compensation programme is necessarily different, there is a general approach to compensation which is applicable, in general, to almost every organisation. This basic approach involves identifying needs, determining objectives, developing programmes, implementing the programmes, and at some time making revisions to the programme. This is simply a general business approach to management. * Identifying Needs A practical business approach to compensation administration starts by identifying needs. * Determining Objectives Translating needs to objectives requires assessing the importance of the problem of opportunity, how and when it may affect the business, the probability of success in resolving the problem or exploiting the opportunity, and the costs involved. The process sometimes relies heavily on precedents, intuition, and judgement. * Plans and Procedures Once attainable objectives have been identified, they must be further translated to specific techniques, procedures, and schedules. The specific techniques and procedures need not necessarily be worked on in detail at this stage, but they should be identified in a general manner. Also, a timetable must be established. Cost estimates for the work and elapsed time necessary to accomplish objectives must be determined. Milestones against which progress can be measured should be established. * Implementation Implementation means putting programmes into operation and establishing the various procedures and reviews that are a necessary part of any programme. Implementation, in effect, puts flesh on the bones of a designed programme. The very specifics of administrative practices and decisions become part of the substance of the programme. * Revisions As circumstances of the firm change, there comes a time for most programmes when they must be revised. Actually, the decisions and cases which occur cumulatively cause sufficient changes in most programmes. A major revision may be necessary because of a change in operations, regulation, or management. The company’s needs may change, or there may be changes in priorities. If the question changes, then a revision is necessary to have a programme that reflects the appropriate answer.

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Conclusion How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively To conduct job analysis effectively, managers have the obligation to keep all the job information up to date. It is vital that they report changes in the organisation, job assignments, and methods of work to ensure that classifications are kept current. Even when staff specialists evaluate jobs, line managers still have the basic responsibility of reviewing both the job analysis and the results of job evaluation. This review carries with it the authority to approve or appeal. Line managers have the basic responsibility for making pay decisions. Decisions must be made within the framework of policies, practices, techniques, and controls. Clearly, the individual supervisor is involved in interpreting compensation policies and applying them to many individual situations. The supervisor also has the job of gaining employee acceptance of the company evaluation and compensation programme. The supervisor is not likely to gain that acceptance unless employees understand basic policies and practices, and unless they perceive that the application of those policies and practices in individual situations is equitable and reasonable. Information, knowledge, programmes, and practices must be continuously reviewed and re-thought. Management of job analysis, job evaluation and compensation administration, like many other fields, requires a never ending search for excellence.

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References 1. Ferris, G.R. and Rowland, K.M., Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, JAI Press, London, 1989. 2. Flanagan, J.C., “The Critical Incident Technique”, Psychological Bulletin, 51, 1954, pp.327-58. 3. Gael, S., Job Analysis-A Guide to Assessing Work Activities, Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco, 1983. 4. James P. Begin, Strategic Employment Policy, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1991. 5. Jamieson, D. and O’Mara, D., Managing Workforce 2000, Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco, 1991. 6. Livy, B., Job Evaluation, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1980. 7. McCormick, E.J., Job Analysis: Methods and Applications, AMACOM, New York, 1979. 8. Myers, D.W., Human Resources Management, Commerce Clearing House, Inc., 1986. 9. Prasad, P., Miss, A.J., Elmes, M. and Prasad, A., Managing The Organizational Melting Pot, Sage Publications, California, 1997. 10. Roff, H.E. and Watson, T.E., Job Analysis, Institute of Personnel Management, London, 1961. 11. Sibson, R.E., Compensation, AMACOM, New York, 1981. How to Conduct Job Analysis Effectively

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