This Job Description May No Longer Be Current

This morning, I happened to see a web link that caught my eye in my Google news feed on my phone. When I opened the page, I saw a box just below the articles byline that contained the following:

This article was published more than 3 years ago. Some information may no longer be current.

This is something that we need to think about in terms of job descriptions as well. Many employers do not put a created or a revised date on their job descriptions. They really should. The created/revised stamp helps to remind those who use the description as to what may have been going on when the description was created or what events may have caused the revision of the job description. Without the note, it is difficult to tell when the description has been updated.

Why is it important to know when the job description has been created or revised?

A creation or revision date can help let treating medical professionals (doctors, physical therapists, nurse case managers, etc.) know whether they need to ask if there have been any changes to the job description that need to be taken into account when planning treatments to return an injured employee back to full duty. Accurate, up to date job descriptions also help with completing the return to work process when a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) is performed. The dates help to make sure that the most up to date version has been sent to the FCE provider for comparison. Note: This happens more frequently than it should – an outdated version is sent to the FCE provider and then the updated copy is sent for a new comparison against the FCE performance of the injured employee.

Why should you update your job descriptions?

It is a good habit to review your job descriptions annually to determine whether there have been any changes to the particular description in terms of roles and responsibilities for the job title as well as whether there are any changes in the policies, procedures, and real world processes of how the job is performed.

  • Do all of the roles and responsibilities of the job description still apply?
    • Have any roles and responsibilities been added to the job title?
    • Have any roles and responsibilities been removed from the job title?
  • Are the job tasks still performed in the same manner?
    • Has the equipment that is used to perform the job been changed?
      • Has updating equipment made the task simpler?
      • Do equipment updates change a task from a 2 person task to a 1 person task?
    • Are supplies for a task shipped differently?
      • Do they come in a different type of container?
      • Do they come in a different weight or volume of product?
  • Have there been changes to PPE required to perform a task?

How has COVID changed task performance?

One of the questions that I now routinely ask is “How are things different in how you do your job since the pandemic?” I have heard a variety of answers in response to this question in terms of changes in tasking, task timing (more frequent cleanings of communal surfaces for custodial staff), and changes in task performance. Within public works departments, some bulk trash pickup teams now utilize heavy equipment to lift certain pieces of trash (furniture in particular) into the trucks. While this change started in the early days when there were many unknowns about how COVID was transmitted, it helped to reduce some of the significantly heavier physical demands on these employees.

For warehousing staff at large retailers, shipping difficulties have led to changes in both tasking and how tasks are performed. I’ve talked with warehouse staff that now perform other duties on days that shipments are not received and on the days that shipments come in, often work at a much quicker pace due to the influx of arriving merchandise on those days.

The pandemic has brought changes to how companies operate that should make them take a moment to review their job descriptions and see if the descriptions still match how the tasks are performed.

What do we do if something has changed?

Update the changes in your job description. Once you have updated the description, make sure that you have included a revision date either in the text of the document or in the footer.

If there have been significant changes to the description that potentially alter the physical and postural demands of the position (or if you haven’t previously documented these demands), we can help you to accurately and objectively document the physical and postural demands. As mentioned above, well documented demands can help physicians and physical therapists in their task of helping to rehab an injured worker so that they can safely return to work.

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