JOB ANALYSIS

Job analysis is the fundamental process that forms the basis of all human resource activities. In its simplest terms, job analysis is a systematic process for gathering, documenting and analyzing data about the work required for a job. The data collected in a job analysis, and reflected through a job description, includes a description of the context and principal duties of the job, and information about the skills, responsibilities, mental models and techniques for job analysis. These include the Position Analysis, Questionnaires, which focuses on generalized human behavior and interviews, task inventories, fundamental job analysis and the job element method.

JA Image 1The United States Govt’s Union Guidelines on Employees Selection Procedure (1978) and the American Psychological Association’s principles for the validation and use of personnel selection procedure stipulates that job analysis is essential to valediction of any and all major human resource activities.

A job analysis provides an objective picture of the job, not the person performing the job, and as such, provides fundamental information to support all subsequent and related HR activities, such as recruitment, training, development, performance management and succession planning. Job analysis serves two critical functions with respect to these processes. Job analysis helps ensure that decisions made with respect to HR processes are good decisions i.e., fair and accurate (e.g., selection of the right person for the job, appropriate decisions about training, performance management, development, etc.) and its helps ensure the defensibility of decisions made to employee (resulting in good HR management) and to the courts (resulting in saving of costs, time and reputation).

THE IMPORTANCE OF JOB ANALYSIS

According to scientific management, the key to productivity is a precise understanding of the tasks that constitute a job. If the motions of workers are to become standardized and machine-like, then it is necessary to be certain about what is to be accomplished, as well as what abilities and materials are necessary to do the job. For many years, job analysis was considered the backbone of the scientific clipboards and stopwatches, was the method used to determine the most efficient way to perform specific jobs.

As the popularity of scientific management declined after World War II, however, so did the popularity of job analysis. With the new emphasis on human relations as the key to productivity job analysis was used primarily to set salary scales. But in the modern times workers and employers began to take renewed interest in this area because of concerns about two issues: unfair discrimination and comparable worth.

There are two areas where unfair discrimination in hiring can occur: in the standards set for being hired; and in the procedures used to assess the applicant’s ability to meet those standards. Job analysis addresses the question of what tasks, taken together actually constitute a job. Without this information, standards for hiring may appear to be arbitrary – or worse, designed to exclude certain individual or groups from the workplace.

More recently, the issue of comparable worth has also contributed to a new interest in job analysis. Comparable worth refers to equal pay for individuals who hold different jobs but perform work that is comparable in terms of knowledge required or level of responsibility. The major issue of the comparable worth controversy is that women who are employed in jobs that are comparable to those held by men are paid, on the average, about 65 percent of what a man would earn. In order to determine the comparability of job tasks so that salaries can also be compared, a proper job analysis is necessary. Comparable work is an issue of considerable interest to many people.

METHODS OF JOB ANALYSIS

Job analysis is the procedure for identifying those duties or behaviors that define a job. Aside from verifying the fairness of selection procedures, job analysis is the foundation of virtually every other area of industrial psychology, including performance appraisal, training and human factors. Additionally, job analysis is the basis of job evaluation, the procedure for setting salary scales.

Figure 1 suggests some of the many uses of job analysis. Information about jobs can be collected in a number of ways. McCormick (1976) lists the following as potential sources: observation, individual interview, group interview, technical conference, questionnaire, diary, critical incidents, equipment design information, recording of job activities, or employee records. Possible agents to do the collecting are professional job analysis, supervisors, job incumbents, or even a camera in the work-place.

 JOB ANALYSIS1

Figure-I :- Human Resource Management Cycle : Application of Job Analysis Data

Inspite of both its importance and the availability of data, however, the area of job analysis has not been studies in details. One reason for the lack of research is the nature of the data: Although qualitative information about jobs, collected through observations, is plentiful, translating this data into a quantitative form amenable to statistical analysis is often difficult.

Over time, different approaches to dealing with data of job description have been developed. Some method designed to study jobs include functional job analysis (Fine, 1974), critical incidents (Flanagan, 1954), job elements (Primoff, 1975) the Position Analysis Questionnaire (McCormick, Jeanneret, & Mecham, 1972), and the physical abilities requirement approach (Fleishman, 1975).

A) FUNCTIONAL JOB ANALYSIS

The rationale behind functional job analysis (FJA) is that jobs must be defined in terms of the interaction between the task, the individuals responsible for accomplishing the task, and the environment in which the task is to be performed. FJA was developed by Sidney A. Fine during the 1950s as part of the Functional Occupational Classification Project that resulted in the third edition of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. As well as providing a system that identifies job tasks, functional job analysis also allows for the setting of performance standards and the identifications of materials for training workers. FJA relies on trained professionals for its data. These professions use employee materials, training manuals, workers interviews, and direct observation to learn about a specific job. According to Fine (1974), these analysis study jobs in terms of five components. First, the purpose, goals and objectives of a specific job need to be identified, and second, analysts must identify and describe the tasks necessary to accomplish a job. In the third component of functional job analysis, the analysts determine the specific abilities necessary to perform the job successfully. In this stage of the analysis, jobs are reviewed along seven dimensions:

1) Data (worker’s involvement with information and ideas);

2) People (communication and interaction);

3) Things (use of machines and tools);

4) Amount of autonomy in the tasks;

5) Reasoning (the use of concepts and decision making);

6) Mathematics; and

7) Language (reading, writing, and speaking).

Fourth, from this information, performance standards are set and then, fifth, training needs are identified in the final stages of functional job analysis. 

B) CRITICAL INCIDENTS TECHNIQUE

In contrast to FJA, where experts make judgments about the content of job, the Critical Incidents Technique (CIT) utilize actual episodes of on-the-job behaviour. This job analysis method grew out of experiences with selecting candidates for flight school during World War II. Standards for acceptance or rejection were lax, and vague reasons such as “lack of inherent flying ability” were used to disqualify individuals who might have been good crew members.

In an attempt to avoid relying on the impressions of examiners to assess the suitability of candidates, the Air Force Aviation Psychology Program developed a series of standards for performance using examples of behaviour that had occurred in military situations. These “critical incidents” were defined as “extreme behaviour, either outstandingly effective or ineffective with respect to attaining the general aims of the activity” (Flanagan, 1954). In other words, CIT asks employees aims of the activity” (Flanagan, 1954). In other words, CIT asks employees for specific examples of on the- job behaviour that demonstrate both high and low levels of performance.

Sources for critical incidents include workers, co-workers, supervisors, managers, and others. Typically, the job analyst will ask informant’s to think of the most recent example of a worker performing at a very high level. Informants will describe what led to the incident, exactly what the employee did, the perceived consequences of the behaviour, and whether or not these consequences were within the control of the employee.

C) JOB ELEMENTS APPROACH

This method of job analysis was developed by Ernest Primoff at the Federal Office of Personnel Management and uses as its focus the elements that a worker uses in performing a specific job. Job elements include knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs), as well as willingness, interest, and personal characteristics (Primoff, 1975). Like the critical incidents approach, job elements relies on the knowledge and experiences of supervisors and job incumbents. In the first stop of a job elements approach to job analysis, these SMEs participate in a brainstorming session in which they identify as many of the elements of a particular job as possible. Next, the identified elements are rated on each of four factors:

1) Barely acceptable: What relative portion of even barely acceptable workers is good in the element?

2) Superior: How important is the element in picking out the superior worker?

3) Trouble: How much trouble is likely if the element is ignosisred when choosing among applicants?

4) Practical: Is the element practical? To what extent can we fill our job openings if we demand it?

Using a statistical procedure developed by Primoff, ratings on the above four factors are analyzed to determine what elements are most important in selecting superior workers. From this information, a “Crediting Plan,” describing the KSAs necessary for successful job performance and used for evaluating applicants, can be developed.

D) POSITION ANALYSIS QUESTIONNAIRE (PAQ)

The Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) was developed by McCormick and associates (1972) on the assumption that there is an underlying taxonomy to all jobs. That is, in contract to the other methods, the PAQ approach focuses on broad categories common to all jobs rather than on individual elements of specific jobs. Given the thousands of tasks for one job that the other methods may identify, PAQ attempts to put this data into a more manageable form. PAQ reduces all jobs to 194 elements, which are classified in terms of six broader dimensions. These six dimensions are information input (35 elements), mental processes (14 elements), work output (49 elements), interpersonal activities (36 elements), work situation and job context (19 elements), and miscellaneous aspects (41 elements). Descriptions of these six divisions are presented in Box 3.

McCormick (1979) has suggested that the analysis of jobs through the PAQ approach is usually carried out by job analysts, methods analysts, personnel officers, or supervisors. Although job incumbents may use the PAQ form, this is usually restricted to managers and white-collar workers.

outline of PAQ

Evaluation of Position Analysis Questionnaire

There are several advantages inherent in the Position Analysis Questionnaire. First, PAQ is structured to allow for easy quantification. The format of the instrument facilities both data collection and computer analysis and can yield results much faster than the other methods. Another advantage of quantitative basis of the instrument is that it has been shown to be extremely reliable. That is, results usually replicate on a second administration.

Another advantage is that the taxonomic approach of the PAQ makes comparison of jobs relatively easy. Along the same lines, the taxonomy allows the Position Analysis Questionnaire to be applied in a wide variety of situations without modifications. Unlike the other methods discussed, not much time needed for this.

One of the major disadvantages of PAQ, however, is related to its taxonomic approach. In the previously cited study comparing several methods of job analysis, Levine and associates (1980) found that the PAQ system was the most disliked, probably because its language is not specific to particular jobs. Another criticism of the language used in PAQ is that its reading level is too difficult. Ash and Edgell (1975) have pointed out that the readability of the instrument is at college level, which may explain why the use of job incumbents as informants is limited in the PAQ approach.

E) PHYSICAL ABILITIES REQUIREMENTS APPROACH

One limitation of all the methods discussed is that, with the exception of the PAQ, they are not very useful for determining the physical requirements for job performance. Although these job analysis methods will identify those tasks that a worker is expected to accomplish, information about the physical requirements is usually inferred. For many jobs, qualities such as reaction time, manual dexterity, or trunk strength may be critical to successful job performance.

Lack of knowledge about physical requirements can lead to problems in many areas, but particularly in personnel selection and employee turnover, Employers who might assume that women are unable to accomplish tasks requiring physical strength and consequently avoid hiring them may be discriminating unfairly. Unless a thorough job analysis reveals specifically that most women do not have the physical abilities necessary for successful performance of the job in question (e.g., jackhammer operator), employers who hire only men may be violating laws governing fairness in personnel selection.

Uncertainty about physical requirements can also result in turnover or attrition that can be quite costly to the employer. When an employer or a job applicant is uncertain about the levels of strengths or flexibility necessary to perform a job, then the likelihood of the candidate not performing successfully is much greater. Navy ordinance disposal divers, for example, face such physically demanding tasks that only 48 per cent of diver candidates even finish a training course (Quigley & Hogan, 1982). Additionally, poor match between applicant abilities and physical requirements is likely to lead to a higher accident rate.

Fleishman (1975) & Quaintance (1984) had developed a taxonomy of physical and cognitive abilities that is designed to describe the performance standards of any job. According to Fleishman, abilities are the foundation on which skills are built. Whereas operating heavy equipment is a skill, some of coordination, and rate control (Theologus, Romashko, & Fleishman, 1970). In contrast to the other methods, considering jobs from an abilities approach results is much greater general is ability of information across differently jobs.

Levels of physical ability are obviously important in many occupations in our society, but the analysis of jobs with regard to this area has not been widely explored in industrial and organizational psychology. As suggested, a lack of knowledge about physical requirements can lead to problems with selection or employee turnover.

JOB DESCRIPTION AND JOB SPECIFICATION

Job analysis is the examination of a job, its component parts and the circumstances in which it is performed. It leads to a job description which sets out the purpose, scope, duties and responsibilities of a job. From the job analysis and job description, a job specification may be derived, which is a statement of the skills, knowledge and other personal attributes required to carry out the job. Some of the uses are:

1) Recruitment and selection, where it is provided a basis for a specification of what the company is looking for.

2) Training, where by means of skills and task analysis it produces training specifications which set out training needs and are used to prepare training programmes.

3) Job evaluation, where by means of whole job or factor comparison, job descriptions can be compared and decisions made on the relative position of a job in the hierarchy.

4) Performance appraisal, where the job description resulting from job analysis is used to decide on the objectives and standards the job holder should reach against which his or her performance will be measured.

5) Organization Planning, as part of the process of activity. 

TECHNIQUES OF COLLECTING INFORMATION FOR JOB ANALYSIS

Information about jobs can be collected by means of questionnaire and/or interviews. 

A) Questionnaires

Questionnaires, to be completed by job-holders and approved by job-holder’s superiors, are useful when a large number of jobs are to be covered. They can also save interviewing time by recording purely factual information and by helping the analyst to structure his or her questions in advance to cover areas which need to be explored in greater depth.

Questionnaire should provide the following basic information:

  • The job title of the job-holder.
  • The title of the job-holder’s superior.
  • The job titles and numbers of staff reporting to the job-holder (best recorded by means of an organization chart).
  • A brief description (one or two sentences) of the overall role or purpose of the job.
  • A list of the main tasks or duties that the job-holder has to carry out. As appropriate, these should specify the resources controlled, the equipment used, the contacts made and the frequency with which the tasks are carried out.

B) Interview

To obtain the full flavour of a job it is usually necessary to interview job-holders and to check the findings with their superiors. The aim of the interview is to obtain all the relevant facts about the job, covering the areas listed above in the section on questionnaires.

To achieve this aim job analysts should:

1) work to a logical sequence of questions which help the interviewee to order his or her thoughts about the job;

2) pin people down on what they actually do;

3) ensure that the job-holder is not allowed to get away with vague or inflated descriptions of his or her work; and

4) obtain a clear statement from the job-holder about his or her authority to make decisions and the amount of guidance received from his or her superior. 

TECHNIQUES OF WRITING JOB DESCRIPTIONS

Job descriptions are based on the detailed job analysis and should be as brief and as factual as possible. The headings under which job descriptions are written are set out below.

Job Title

The existing or proposed job title indicates as clearly as possible the function in which the job is carried out and the level of the job within that function.

Reporting to

The job title of the manager or superior to whom the job-holder is directly responsible is given under this heading.

Overall responsibilities

This part describes as concisely as possible the overall purpose of the job. The aim is to convey in no more than two or three sentences a broad picture of the job which will clearly distinguish it from other jobs and establish the role of job-holder.

Main tasks

The steps taken to define the main tasks of the job are as follows:

1) Identify and list the tasks that have to be carried out. No attempt is made to describe in detail how they are carried out, but some indications is given of the purpose or objectives of each task.

2) Analyze the initial list of tasks and, so far as possible, simplify the list by grouping related tasks together so that no more than, say, seven or eight main activity areas remain.

3) Decide on the order in which tasks should be described. The alternatives include :

  • Frequency with which they are carried out (continually, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, intermittently);
  • Chronological order;
  • Order of importance; and
  • The main process of management that are carried out, for example, setting objectives, planning, organizing, coordinating, operating, directing and motivating staff, and controlling.

4) Describe each main task separately in short numbered paragraphs. No more than one or at most two sentences are used for the description, but, if necessary, any separate tasks carried out within the task can be tabulated (a, b, c, etc) under the overall description of the activity. A typical sentence describing a task should:

  • Start with an active verb to eliminate all unnecessary wording. Active verbs are used which express the actual responsibility to recommend, to do, ensure that someone else does something, or to collaborate with someone, e.g. Prepares, completes, recommends, supervises, ensures that, liaises with;
  • State what is done as succinctly as possible; and
  • State why it is done: this indicates the purpose of the job gives a lead to setting targets or performance standards.
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