Should Employees Write Their Own Job Descriptions?

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 Businessman Writing a Paperwork at OfficeI know what you are thinking, “It’s my company; I’m the manager, and I give the orders ’round here and I am not having some worker telling me how to run my business.” I jest a little, but seriously, most of you may be surprised at the notion of allowing your employees the freedom to determine their own job description – and many of you will undoubtedly be skeptical. But, it’s not as crazy as it might sound; I can think of three situations where letting employees write their own job descriptions could be beneficial to both employer and the employee.

1. Are you too busy?

We are part of a generation of time and success pressurized managers who are also extremely under resourced, which means it should not come as a surprise that many managers and workers are overloaded. Studies show that 3 out of 4 Americans work over 40 hours a week and 30 percent work over 50 hours a week – and the overtime working figures in the UK are comparable. This overload problem is magnified in micro-businesses as studies show that entrepreneurs work 63 percent longer than average workers. This means that there is a very good chance that certain tasks such as job descriptions may be neglected, meaning that employees can end up working on things they shouldn’t be working on and which don’t bring value to the business.

So, if you are too busy to dedicate time to preparing job descriptions, why not delegate the task to your employees and have them prepare and update their job descriptions on an annual basis, (which will of course be subject to your approval), so you don’t have to do it.

2. Are your employees bored?

Studies show that around 4 out of 5 employees are currently disengaged at work, which means they are kinda bored with their jobs to a greater or lesser extent. A good proportion of workers are also underemployed, which means doing work which they are overqualified for. Why not allow employees in such situations to perhaps design their own “dream job” description for you, which will give you an idea of what really motivates them. And, as far as is possible, you can attempt to fulfill their wishes, increasing their levels of engagement. This process has been termed ‘job crafting’.

3. Are you making bad hires?

Kiip, the mobile advertising network start-up, has a novel way of hiring where it asks job candidates to write their own job description for the role. Put simply, if the job description matches what they are looking for, then the candidate is a good fit potentially. Their hiring process doesn’t just consist of this assessment mechanism, but is a core element of their hiring process. Couldn’t this potentially work for you when hiring in your business? Couldn’t you have candidates write their job description for the role in order to see how attuned and informed the candidate is about your business and its priorities? I think it could have a useful application in the hiring process.

So, as you can see, I think that are at least three situations where you can adopt a system of employees writing their own job descriptions and for this to be of benefit to the business.

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Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.