Nature of Job Analysis

The most basic building block of HR management, job analysis, is a systematic way to gather and analyze information about the content and human requirement of jobs, and the context in which jobs are performed. Job analysis usually involves collecting information on the characteristics of a job that differentiate it from other jobs. Information that can be helpful in making the distinction includes the following:

Work activities and behaviors Machines and equipment used

Interactions with others Working conditions

Performance standards Supervision given and received

Financial and budgeting impact Knowledge, skills, and abilities needed

What Is a Job?

Although the terms job and position are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference in emphasis. A job is a grouping of common tasks, duties, and responsibilities. A position is a job performed by one person. Thus, if there are two persons operating word processing equipment, there are two positions (one for each person) but just one job (word processing operator).

Differentiating between Job Analysis and Job Design

It is useful to clarify the differences between job design and job analysis. Job design is broader in nature and has as its primary thrust meshing the productivity

Job analysis

A systematic way to gather and analyze information about the content and the human requirements of jobs, and the context in which jobs are performed.


A grouping of similar positions having common tasks, duties, and responsibilities.


A job performed by one person.

needs of the organization with the needs of the individuals performing the various jobs. Increasingly, a key aim for job design is to provide individuals meaningful work that fits effectively into the flow of the organization. It is concerned with changing, simplifying, enlarging, enriching, or otherwise making jobs such that the efforts of each worker fit together better with other jobs.

Job analysis has a much narrower focus in that it is a formal system for gathering data about what people are doing in their jobs. The information generated by job analysis may be useful in redesigning jobs, but its primary purpose is to get a clear understanding of what is done on a job and what capabilities are needed to do a job as it has been designed. Documents that capture the elements identified during a job analysis are job descriptions and job specifications.

Job Analysis and the Changing Nature of Jobs

Increasingly, commentators and writers are discussing the idea that the nature of jobs and work is changing so much that the concept of a -“job” may be obsolete for many people. For instance, in some high-technology industries employees work in cross-functional project teams and shift from project to project. The focus in these industries is less on performing specific tasks and duties and more on fulfilling responsibilities and attaining results. For example, a project team of eight employees developing software to allow various credit cards to be used with ATMs worldwide will work on many different tasks, some individually and some with other team members. When that project is finished those employees will move to other projects, possibly with other employers. Such shifts may happen several times per year. Therefore, the basis for recruiting, selecting, and compensating these individuals is their competence and skills, not what they do.2 Even the job of managers changes in such situations, for they must serve their project teams as facilitators, gatherers of resources, and removers of roadblocks. However, in many industries that use lower-skilled workers, traditional jobs continue to exist. Studying these jobs and their work consequences is relatively easy because of the repetitiveness of the work and the limited number of tasks each worker performs.

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Clearly, studying the two different types of jobs-the lower-skilled ones and highly technical ones-requires different approaches. Many of the typical processes associated with identifying job descriptions are still relevant with the lower-skilled, task-based jobs. However, for fast-moving organizations in hightechnology industries, a job description is becoming an obsolete concept. Employees in these -“virtual jobs” must be able to function without job descriptions and without the traditional parameters that are still useful with less changeable jobs.3

Work Analysis

Work analysis studies the workflow, activities, context, and output of a job. This analysis can be conducted on a department, business process, or individual level. At one level, the industrial engineering approach of time and motion studies is useful in work analysis. At another level the linkage of what is done in one department may be looked at in relation to work activities performed Chapter 7 Analyzing and Identifying Jobs 215

Work analysis

Studying the workflow,activities, context, and output of a job. in another area. For instance, in an electric utility if a customer calls with a service outage problem, it is typical for a customer service representative to take the information and enter it into a database. Then in the operations department, a dispatcher may access the database to schedule a line technician to repair the problem. The customer would be called back and notified about the timing of the repair. The line technician also must receive instructions from a supervisor, who gets the information on workload and locations from the dispatcher.

A work analysis identified that there were too many steps involving too many different jobs in this process. Therefore, the utility implemented a new customer information system and combined the dispatching function with customer service. The redesign permitted the customer service representatives to access workload information and schedule the line technicians as part of the initial consumer phone calls, except in unusual situations. The redesign of jobs required redefining the jobs, tasks, duties, and responsibilities of several jobs. To implement the new jobs required training the customer service representatives in dispatching and moving dispatchers into the customer service department and training them in all facets of customer service. The result was a more responsive workflow, more efficient cheduling of line technicians, and broadening of the jobs of the customer service representatives.

This example illustrates that analyzing work activities and processes may require looking at what capabilities individuals need as well as what they do. That certainly would be true as office support jobs, such as the secretarial job, are examined. Increasingly, it is being recognized that jobs can be analyzed on the basisof both tasks and competencies.

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Task-Based Job Analysis

Analyzing jobs based upon what is done on the job focuses on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities performed in a job. A task is a distinct, identifiable work activity composed of motions, whereas a duty is a larger work segment composed of several tasks that are performed by an individual. Because both tasks and duties describe activities, it is not always easy or necessary to distinguish between the two. For example, if one of the employment supervisor”„¢s duties is to interview applicants, one task associated with that duty would be asking questions. Job responsibilities are obligations to perform certain tasks and duties.

For jobs that remain task-based, many standard phases of the job analysis process can continue. As indicated in the phases of traditional job analysis that are outlined later in the chapter, extensive effort is made to clarify what specifically is done on a job. Development of job descriptions identifies what is done and lists job functions.

Competency Approach to Job Analysis

There is a growing interest in focusing on the competencies that individuals need in order to perform jobs, rather than on the tasks, duties, and responsibilities composing a job. This shift emphasizes that it is the capabilities that people have that truly influence organizational performance. As E.E. Lawler suggests, instead of thinking of individuals having jobs that are relatively stable and can be written up into typical job descriptions, it may be more relevant to focus on the competen-216 Section 2 Staffing the Organization


A distinct, identifiable work activity composed of motions.


A larger work segment composed of several tasks that are performed by an individual.

Job responsibilities

Obligations to perform certain tasks and duties. cies used.4 Competencies are basic characteristics that can be linked to enhanced performance by individuals or teams of individuals. The groupings of competencies, as Figure 7-1 indicates, may include knowledge, skills, and abilities.


hidden and visible competencies. Knowledge, being more visible, is recognized by many employers in matching individuals to jobs. With skills, although some are evident such as skill in constructing financial spreadsheets, others such as negotiating skills, may be less identifiable. But it is the -“hidden” competencies of abilities, which may be more valuable, that can enhance performance. For example, the abilities to conceptualize strategic relationships and to resolve interpersonal conflicts are more difficult to identify and assess.

A growing number of organizations are using some facets of competency analysis. A survey of over 200 organizations sponsored by the American Compensation Association (ACA) asked about the major reasons that firms have used the competency approach. The three primary reasons given were (1) communicating valued behaviors throughout the organization; (2) raising the competency levels of the organization; and (3) emphasizing the capabilities of people to enhance organizational competitive advantage.5

Many earlier efforts to use competencies have been job-based, meaning that competencies are identified in the context of specific jobs. In this way the competency approach is a logical extension of traditional job analysis activities. However, some organizations are taking the competency approach to another level by focusing on role-based competencies. This shift has been accentuated by the growing use of work teams, whereby individuals move among tasks and jobs. Some of the roles might be leader, supporter, tactician, technical expert, administrator, or others. Through competency analysis, the competencies needed for individuals playing different roles in work teams can be identified. Then selection criteria, development activities, and other HR efforts must be revised to focus on the different sets of competencies needed for the various roles.

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Unlike the traditional approach to analyzing jobs, which identifies the tasks, duties, knowledge, and skills associated with a job, the competency approach considers how the knowledge and skills are used. The competency approach also attempts to identify the hidden factors that are often critical to superior performance. For instance, many supervisors talk Chapter 7 Analyzing and Identifying Jobs 217


Basic characteristics that can be linked to enhanced performance by individuals or teams.


Scale: Visible Hidden



Conceptual Model of Competencies

about employees”„¢ attitudes, but they have difficulty identifying what they mean by attitude. The competency approach uses some methodologies to help supervisors identify examples of what they mean by attitude and how those factors affect performance.

Several methodologies are available and being used to determine competencies, with behavioral event interviews being commonly found. This process involves the following steps:6

1. A team of senior managers identifies future performance results areas critical to the business and strategic plans of the organization. These concepts may be broader than those used in the past.

2. Panel groups are assembled, composed of individuals knowledgeable about the jobs in the company. This group can include both high- and low-performing employees, supervisors, managers, trainers, and others.

3. A facilitator from HR or an outside consultant interviews the panel members to get specific examples of job behaviors and actual occurrences on the jobs. During the interview the individuals are also asked about their thoughts and feelings during each of the described events.

4. Using the behavioral events, the facilitator develops detailed descriptions of each of the competencies. This descriptive phase provides clarity and specifics so that employees, supervisors, managers, and others in the organization have a clearer understanding of the competencies associated with jobs.

5. The competencies are rated and levels needed to meet them are identified. Then the competencies are specified for each of the jobs.

6. Finally, standards of performance are identified and tied to the jobs. Appropriate selection screening, training, and compensation processes focusing on competencies must be developed and implemented.

Examples of the competencies used in organizations vary widely. In one survey of 10 companies, the following were most common.

Customer focus Leadership

Team orientation Innovation

Technical expertise Adaptability

Results orientation

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