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Human Resources and the Job Analysis: Pros and Cons

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The ultimate purpose of a job analysis is to define a job description.

The ultimate purpose of a job analysis is to define a job description.

What Is a Job Analysis?

The typical goal of a job analysis is to maintain the current staff without causing an overload of work. However, the ultimate purpose of a job analysis is to define a job description. A job description is needed in order to hire the most qualified employee for a particular position. Once you have completed a job analysis, you will best understand what tasks and responsibilities a position needs.

This can help management determine whether to hire a full-time, part-time, contract or temporary employee. Knowing the disadvantages of a job analysis will also help in carrying it out. You will be armed for battle if clashes should occur between the employees.

This article will examine the history of the job analysis, various perspectives of a job analysis, the formal definition of a job analysis, when it is done, why it is done, the disadvantages of doing one, and how to accomplish the task (unique and traditional methods), and links for further information.


The theory of job analysis was originated by two psychologists, Fredrick Taylor and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, in the early 20th century (Muchinsky, 2012).

Imagine Yourself as an Employee

You are busy. You have a full schedule for the day. You have always known that you and the clerk record some of the same information, so your jobs overlap. However, you also know that staying busy makes your day go by faster, so you have never pointed this out.

All of the sudden, you are interrupted. You are called into a meeting and given instructions on how to complete your portion of a job analysis, which from what you can understand is just a fancy word for saying what you do during the day.

The insecure part of you thinks, “Why do they need to know what I do all day? I get the job done, don’t I? Are they trying to learn what I do all day so that they can pass duties on to others? Are they in the midst of letting me go? Perhaps I should not be completely honest. Maybe I should add more duties to my position requirements . . . ”

Imagine Yourself as a Human Resources Representative

The Board of Directors has decided that it wants you to perform job analyses on all the employees in the company. You know many ways to go about accomplishing this task, but you also know there are pitfalls involved.

Currently, issues you are dealing with in Human Resources include, disputes between employees regarding who is charge of whom, disputes between employees regarding who is responsible for which tasks, and disputes amongst employees regarding who accomplished which achievement.

In other words, you are up to the neck in bickering amongst the employees. Of course, this is part of job. The problem is that these disputes directly affect this task. Attempting to find out who is the “real” supervisor, who does which task, and who accomplished which achievement are items that need to be a part of a job analysis.

One of the advantages of a job analysis is that it can limit political squabbles by clarifying reporting relationships and areas of responsibility, so this problem can solve itself in a way (Fisher, Schoenfeldt, & Shaw, 2006).

So, while there are advantages and important purposes of job analyses, both employees and job analysts may have issues with this assignment. Whether you are an employee or a job analyst, try to visualize the other side of the coin in order to see what difficulties may arise.

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A Closer Look

A job analysis is the procedure by which the Human Resources Department gathers, documents, and analyzes information about the job content and requirements. It demonstrates the clear relationship between job tasks and the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to perform the tasks (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2007).

In order to obtain an accurate analysis, the Human Resources Department should rely on the supervisors and employees in order to provide a completed job analysis, the departmental organization chart, and any other information on any changes in the department which have affected that particular position.


When to Do a Job Analysis

  • When mergers or acquisitions occur
  • When new companies take over old ones
  • When a company does performance evaluations
  • When changes are being made in the company

The United States Department of Labor created a database of 20,000 job descriptions based on job analyses that were done by Human Resources Departments. The database is called O’NET. It is free to search and contains a Career Exploration Tool which helps users learn about new careers. Explore the online dictionary of occupational titles (O’NET) created by the United States Department of Labor today in order to learn more.


Why Are Job Analyses Done?

1. To identify what it takes to do the job successfully by understanding:

  • How the job is done
  • When the job tasks are needed
  • Who is affected by the job
  • What qualities are needed in order to perform the job
  • What functions and duties are completed on a regular basis
  • What mental and physical requirements are considered necessary

2. To reallocate, eliminate, discover, or divvy out additional responsibilities and duties

3. To create a job description and document the attributes of the position

4. To make improvements to processes or procedures

5. To develop better employee performance

6. To effectively manage training and promotional systems

7. To help employees maximize their talents and advance their careers

8. To find the best quality of employees for each particular position

9. To determine whether a disabled individual is capable of performing the tasks of a position with or without special accommodation

10. To aid with the legal defense regarding the company’s selection or elimination of the filling of positions; for more information about how a job analysis relates to the law, check out the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website.

11. To properly classify jobs in terms of their appropriate title and salary range

Why Are There Disadvantages to Job Analyses?

  • Each person may be treated differently since they do different duties.
  • Many workers do not like to adapt to a new environment.
  • Disruptive attitudes can occur if people feel threatened in their jobs.
  • Mental qualifications can be difficult to detect since they cannot be directly observed.
  • After the analysis is complete, it may be determined that some positions are to be eliminated.
  • Personal biases on the part of the job analyst can distort the data collected.
  • If people feel insecure in their current position, they may distort the truth as to what they really do in a day.
  • A job analysis is very time-consuming since accurate information is desired.
  • If workers do not understand what a job analysis is, they may not participate in a useful manner.
  • Completing a job analysis can be very difficult if jobs change often.
  • Coordinating a comprehensive job analysis takes a lot of manpower and cooperation.

How Are Job Analyses Done?

Often, the Human Resources Department comes up with its own way of doing a job analysis in order to create uniform job descriptions based on their methods. There are, however, other ways that job analyses can be done.

There are many unique and traditional methods that can be implemented in doing a job analysis in order to ease employees during this procedure. Six examples of ways to carry out this task will be illustrated below.


1. Employee Participation

Have each employee fill out a job analysis. All employees should be required to complete a job analysis. If there are any questions or problems in filling out a job analysis, the Human Resources Department should assist each employee.

This will allow the Human Resources Department the opportunity to see where there is an overload or where duties may be shifted around. The department can analyze the information obtained from the employees and supervisors, and determine whether any changes need to be made.

If an employee’s position is deemed to be eliminated, it is typically the goal of the company to find a different role for them, and retrain them if necessary. A good company should believe that talented individuals will welcome the challenge of a new role, and enjoy career growth with the added responsibilities that go along with it.


2. A Bonus System

After an analysis of each job is completed, a company may decide a bonus should be issued to those who are determined to be eligible. This eligibility could be determined by the supervisor’s most recent performance evaluation and the length of time the employee has been employed with the company. The percentage amount of the bonus should be the same for all eligible employees.

A set bonus schedule such as this would motivate supervisors and employees to participate willingly and gladly in a job analysis. They would perhaps view it as an opportunity, rather than a threat.

Along with a bonus schedule, an incentive system could be set up so that those who are overlooked by the bonus would be motivated as well. Basically, the system could give the non-bonus workers “hope.” They could learn why they did not receive a bonus and what they could do in the future to improve the performance of their position.


3. Details of the Job Analysis

To get an accurate analysis of a position, employees may need to keep a journal of their activities for several days in order to observe how they spend their time at work. The job analysis should also be approved by each supervisor.

The analysis should list:

  • The name of the department
  • A position summary of their overall responsibilities or chief purpose
  • A detailed account of all of the tasks that are involved in carrying out their position
  • An estimation of the average amount of time spent performing each task totaling one hundred percent, arranging them in order of importance
  • A list of employees whose activities this position coordinates with or supervises
  • A list identifying the types of supervisory responsibilities involved, such as assigning work, hiring, or giving performance evaluations

The supervisor should briefly describe the minimum experience, education, and licensing required for the position.


4. Two Approaches to Job Analysis

Two popular approaches to job analyses are task-oriented and worker-oriented. The task-oriented method concentrates on the tasks involved in performing the job. The worker-oriented method strives to examine the human qualities needed in order to perform the job successfully.

These characteristics are typically categorized into four sections called KSAOs:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Abilities
  • Other (personality, interests, and experiences)

5. Job Analysis Methods

Some of the ways to conduct a job analysis include traditional methods and unique methods. Many HR Departments come up with their own ways of doing job analyses. They may wish to do this because of the manner in which they plan to use their job analysis.

The main reason to do a job analysis is to come up with an appropriate job description. Many Human Resource specialists want to make all of their job descriptions similar. They want them to have the same format and to be created using the same method.

Unique Ways of Doing a Job Analysis

Work samples

Background analysis


Observations – both direct and indirect

Interviews with employees or supervisors

Critical incident investigations

Work diaries

The Repertory Grid Technique


Hierarchical Task Analysis

What is a PAQ? The PAQ is a job analysis instrument that is completed by a professional job analyst and measures job component validity of qualities found in aptitude testing. What is JASR? This method is task-oriented and fast.

Traditional Ways of Doing a Job Analysis

Personal interviews


Work assessments

Phone interviews

Procedural and process reviews

Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ)

Behavioral event interviews

Job Analysis at the Speed of Reality (JASR)

Job analysis worksheets


6. The 6-Step Job Analysis Process

Many companies use a six-step process in terms of performing a job analysis. Typically it is arranged as follows:

  1. Collect the data and decide how to best use it. This may entail writing job descriptions, determining performance standards, or conducting further occupational studies.
  2. List the tasks and qualifications required to perform the job successfully. Review organizational charts and process charts.
  3. Identify the critical tasks or representative jobs for the main analysis.
  4. Analyze the job by collecting data on job activities, working conditions, and abilities required to perform the job. Rate the abilities, identifying which competencies are most critical.
  5. Review conclusions with the worker and his or her supervisor. Once confirmed, eliminate tasks that are not linked to competencies.
  6. Document all findings, and develop an accurate job description with job specifications.

Full Participation is Key

Probably the most difficult, but also the most important thing in doing a job analysis is getting everyone on board. Many options were provided in this article to guide you in how to achieve this. A memo, a formal meeting, or a one-on-one interview may be best. Explaining to the participants of the job analysis the reasons it is being completed may go a long way in helping them understand the company’s decision.


Fisher, C. D., Schoenfeldt, L. F., & Shaw, J. B. (2006). Human Resource Management (6th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Muchinsky, P. M. (2012). Psychology Applied to Work, Summerfield: Hypergraphic Press Inc.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (2007). Delegated Examining Operations Handbook: A Guide for Federal Agency Examining Offices, retrieved November 30, 2013, from

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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