Job Analysis and Human Resource Planning

Within the Human Resource Planning process, matching the demand and supply of labor informs decision-makers about potential trends and changes in labor requirements, and also provides information about the best labor mix. Job analysis refines and complements this information to determine exactly what each job involves and who is required before specific staffing decisions can be made.

Broadly speaking, job analysis refers to the process of getting detailed information about jobs. Organizational conditions often change in response to new technology and machinery, as well as legislative and market requirements. Job analysis therefore becomes important in interpreting what the job currently involves. Having identified the objective of the job analysis, the HRM analyst must determine the type of information that needs to be collected, the source of the information, the method of data collection and how the data will be analyzed.

The type of information that is collected is usually associated with the development of a job description, or the list of tasks, duties and responsibilities of the job. Additionally, a job specification, or person specification, is derived that lists the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics that an individual must have to successfully perform the job. The most common source of information is the person already in the job. There are limits to the usefulness of this source, however, when the views of the present incumbents differ from those of their supervisors. Employees may, for example, exaggerate their duties, especially if the process is associated with a review of remuneration, and it may become necessary to seek out additional information. When the job is a new position or when the incumbent has actually left the organization, further input is usually sought. Under these conditions, for example, it becomes necessary to bring in the views of supervisors or co-workers.

Common methods of data collection include observation, interviews, questionnaires, diaries and critical incident approaches. The choice of the method depends largely on the purpose of the analysis and the nature of the job, and a number of methods are often used together:

  1. Observation is useful when the job involves standardized repetitive jobs and manual work: when jobs have actions, observation is a good way to track what needs to be done. More complex positions involving internal thought processing, such as the work of an accountant, are, however, difficult to measure through observation. Similarly, when a job involves irregular work, as, for example, with the role of a manager, observation becomes less useful.
  2. Interviews are more appropriate in these situations and overall are one of the most commonly used job analysis data collection methods.
  3. Diaries are also helpful when the responsibilities of a job do not form a regular pattern. If diaries are reliably maintained over an extended period, they are especially useful in tracking irregular and infrequent duties.
  4. Finally, critical incident approaches are employed to provide specific explanations for effective and ineffective job performance. This approach is usually used to track what is required and what is to be avoided for the success or failure of the job. The process can be onerous as it requires fairly detailed descriptions of what the employee did during a particular incident and explanations of why the performance was effective or ineffective; for this reason, it is not commonly used across routine tasks.

In addition to these qualitative approaches, quantitative questionnaires such as the position analysis questionnaire provide useful data that can be used to compare information across a range of job. These quantitative surveys usually break jobs down into standardized dimensions that are rated; the information obtained can then be used to differentiate jobs with respect to levels of complexity, processing and responsibility.

Despite the usefulness and importance of job analysis, a number of writers have explained that the rational approach described above – which breaks each job down and produces specific job descriptions and specifications – may no longer be viable. As the rate of technology changes and work becomes more knowledge-based, task boundaries created by traditional job classifications are dissipating. Jobs have become more flexible, and their boundaries are vague and dynamic.

It have been argued that, along with the move away from traditional hierarchical structure and control towards flexible, team-based designs, employees have become more than simple components that fit a series of static job descriptions. A key idea is the development of emerging relationships that may create new networks between employees. These emerging networks do not, however, always have a comfortable fit with traditional structures.

The more fluid connections mean that what needs to be done and who does it becomes a product of what each person brings into the organization and how they connect with existing staff. Therefore, rather than work roles being planned and fixed, they become indefinite. It is more likely that jobs will develop around individuals rather than the reverse. Therefore, as well as impacting on job content, environmental pressures have led to re-evaluations of who is employed and how the employer-employee relationship is managed.

Managers deal such kinds of challenges in day-to-day company operations where they need to fulfill effectively and efficiently fulfill the organization’s requirements related to human resource recruitment, selection, performance, satisfaction and cutting down and adding extra responsibilities and duties. And there is no scope where they can avert the risk of being wrong.

An effective and right process of analyzing a particular job is a great relief for them. It helps them maintain the right quality of employees, measure their performance on realistic standards, assess their training and development needs and increase their productivity.

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