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Why you should invest time in position descriptions and induction

The true value of a well written position description is often misunderstood

HR documentation and HR processes are both critical to the quality of people you bring to your team, and the early months of the year traditionally have more staff movement than other months in the year. January and February are an excellent time to review HR processes for the calendar and financial year ahead.

This month we are focussing on position descriptions and induction processes – both key documents for recruiting and on-boarding new team members. The true value of a well written position description is often misunderstood.

The position title and description are two critical factors in terms of attracting the right candidates for interviewing, but also have an ongoing purpose throughout the employment lifecycle, so it pays to spend some time getting them right from the outset.

The position title should be as clear and concise as possible in conveying the purpose of the role, as this is the first signal to job seekers of the opportunity for them with your business.

The position description (often referred to as a PD) is the list of tasks the person will undertake in their role daily, and will include details on level of responsibility undertaken. Having the PD up to date and current is extremely important in attracting the candidate with the most relevant skill base – but is also a critical outgoing message to all candidates of your professionalism and business operating standards.

When defining, or refining what a position entails, do so with the input of HR, line management and employees in a similar function. Research shows clearly that the most accurate specifications are produced with the involvement of several different business areas.

Having detailed up to date titles and position descriptions for all positions within your organisation plus annual checks on them as a standard process ensures you are focussed on ensuring all of your staff members are clear on what you want them to achieve.

Having up to date PDs has the useful side benefit of being ready to go with your advertising when you’re ready to hire a new employee. Taking the time to create an accurate position description can be invaluable to the ongoing attraction, hiring, performance and retention of employees.

Once you have advertised and successfully appointed the incoming employee, the next and most important process for that employee’s future tenure with your business is to commence a formal induction process.

The Induction

The employee induction should be fully planned, and should commence from day one. Many businesses consider induction to be showing the new recruit where the kitchen and toilet are and where their work place is and leave them to it. This is not a good start for your employee – and it leaves you well exposed in terms of who he or she may buddy up.

Every new recruit should have an induction buddy assigned. It will make the new employee feel cared for, and provide a go-to person to answer initial questions – without necessarily needing to involve your time.

The Induction document should list all tasks and areas broken down from the Position Description.

The induction process – while it may vary across different areas of seniority, will ensure correct training is delivered and that your standards are understood from the very start. A well-planned induction enables new employees to become fully operational quickly and should be a key step in the recruitment process. It sets the tone for all new recruits and promotes a positive first impression of the business and the people.

Your new employee’s impression of the organisation will be made on how well they have been treated on their first day at the office. It is very important that someone is responsible for the induction of the new employee on their first day, and ideally remains as induction buddy for their first 90 days of employment. This approach means that new employees can settle in and start contributing effectively to the organisation as soon possible.

The following are what we consider mandatory inclusions for every team member’s induction

  • Details of their role and responsibilities
  • All aspects of the employment relationship, levels of quality, performance, expected behaviour and conduct in the workplace, also any KPI’s or targets they may be expected to reach
  • Health & Safety must be explained showing where first aid kits are, who the first aid officer is, where the emergency exits are and what the evacuation processes are
  • The policies and procedures of the organisation
  • An explanation of the organisational culture
  • An overview of the organisational chart and structure
  • A list of key staff within the organisation and their contact details such as email and phone

At the completion of induction, the new employee and their buddy should sign off each of the points to ensure that all areas of the induction have been completed and the new employee should be able to get started in their role with a reasonable understanding of the business and the policies etc.

How often should you review your documents and processes?

Organisations are constantly evolving, so for position descriptions to reflect changing requirements they should be reviewed at least annually, and amended as appropriate. Some businesses have us review their position descriptions quarterly to ensure they are current. Remember that the PD is your tool to communicate expectations and set the line in the sand for performance, so if it is out of date it is not helpful in moving your business forward.

Correct position titles, position descriptions and induction processes are the key to achieving performance expectations and are absolutely critical at performance review time, or if you are considering promotion.

If you need help in creating these documents or processes, please contact us. It is extremely important that the creation of, refining and reviewing of position descriptions is done thoroughly and completely!