This article will help the reader understand how jobs are analysed and described!
What is a Job Analysis?
A job analysis is a different way of looking at the requirements of a job and can be used to complement a standard job description. It is performed to break down a job into its component parts including job duties and requirements.
In supported employment, a job analysis will look at all aspects of the job including:
• The precise tasks that an employee will be asked to perform and their priority
• Physical and mental requirements for the job
• Workplace culture and standards
• The workplace environment including any pressures and natural supports
The job analysis also looks at the job from the perspective of teaching it to a new employee.
How Do You Perform a Job Analysis?
A job analysis is performed by support staff through a combination of observation and discussion at the workplace. Support staff visit the job site and watch how other staff perform the tasks relating to the job.
They also look at the work culture, the level of support and interaction between employees. Initially, they are simply documenting every aspect of the job and workplace that is relevant to the position. The information is refined and expanded upon at a later date.
The job analysis has to answer simple questions which can determine the suitability of an applicant for the role.
Questions might include:
• How much physical activity and manual dexterity is required?
• How much interaction will a new employee have with other employees?
• How much support and training will a new employee receive?
• How much computer work will be required and what computer skills are necessary?
• What are the precise working conditions?
A job analysis report is typically broken into three main sections:
• Routines (typical tasks associated with the job)
• Specific Job Requirements (physical and intellectual)
• Job Descriptions (describing the environment, culture and employer requirements)
The concept of routines is used to understand how often a particular task is performed and what challenges the task presents. Routines must be identified early on, so support staff can assess how easily each routine can be taught to a disabled person.
Routines are typically categorised into two different categories in terms of how often they are performed: “Core / Frequent” routines and “Episodic / Infrequent” routines.
Core routines are the most common type of task that an employee performs and is repeated throughout the day without interruption. These routines may occur in response to a trigger like an email arriving or a phone call. They are the most obvious parts of the job and can be easily taught via repetition because they happen so frequently.
Episodic routines are more difficult to teach because they happen very rarely, for example once a week or once a month. They can also be difficult to predict and may happen randomly. The infrequent nature of these tasks also makes it difficult to determine when extra support is needed for the employee. Because they happen so rarely staff may develop individual ways of handling these tasks, also making them difficult to teach.
Job-related and Culture Related Routines
In addition to the frequency of the routine, they can be of different types.
A job-related routine is something which regularly happens but may not be specifically mentioned by the employer. These routines are necessary to do well at work, but they are not always obvious when looking at a job description.
Putting on a work uniform and getting to work safely are required to perform well in a job but won’t be mentioned in the most job descriptions. The job analysis must identify these kinds of routines so the disabled person doesn’t get any nasty surprises on their first day of work!
Cultural routines are very important because they help the employee integrate into the work environment. They can include simple things like social interaction in the break room, walking around the office space talking to other employees and what to do when the boss is looking over your shoulder!
They are often inferred rules which tell people how they should behave within the workplace and aren’t written down. For this reason, they are often difficult to understand and it may take time for an employee to grasp the cultural norms at a new workplace.
A Real-World Example Involving Donuts!
To make sense of a job analysis and routine identification, here is a working example.
Let’s say the job listing is for a “Donut Maker”.
Core Work Routines may include making the donut mixture, putting donuts into hot oil. and making coffees. These routines happen many times every day.
Episodic Routines may include cleaning the coffee machine, which only happens once a week.
Job-related Routines may include getting to work on time, putting your personal belongings into the locker and using the staff entrance.
Culture Related Routines may include dealing with a noisy work environment and talking to fellow employees about everything relating to donuts.
The job analysis tells a potential employee about these routines so they can gain a deeper understanding of the job.
Specific physical and mental requirements identified by the job analysis or mentioned by the employer are listed in different categories including: lifting, standing, movement, walking, crawling, vision, hearing, speaking and judgement.
A donut maker may have specific requirements including:
Lifting: Be able to lift bags of flour and empty into donut machine. Be able to life 3 kilograms of donut batter
Walking: Be able to walk short distances between don’t machines
Hearing: Be able to converse with fellow employees
Speaking: Be able to converse with fellow employees
Judgement: Be able to determine when the donuts are cooked. Understanding when more donuts are required.
Critically Important Job Components and the Established Learning Curve
Support staff and the employer may also list some critically important components of the job which must be performed well. In the case of the donut maker, some critical job components may include:
1. Mixing the batter in the correct proportions
2. Placing batter into the donut machine safely
3. Taking the donuts out of the machine at the correct time
The established learning curve simply refers to how long it typically takes someone to learn the job.
Job Analysis Descriptions
A job analysis will describe work environment, work culture and employer requirements in a simple fashion.
For our donut maker, the work environment description may be something like “The employee will be working in a somewhat noisy environment where other employees will be talking to customers. The environment is air conditioned and there is seating available which can be used while donuts are being made. There is a small break room where employees can relax”
The culture may be described as: “Employees are friendly to each other and chat throughout the day. All employees must present themselves well and keep their work areas clean. Employees are asked to keep their voices quiet to not disturb donut eating patrons”.
Additional employer requirements may be split into segments including:
• Unwritten Rules Unique to the Setting
• Employers Concern for Quality
• Employers Need for Productivity
• Flexibility/Rigidity of Observed
For our donut maker, these sections of the job analysis may be something like:
Unwritten Rules Unique to the Setting: The employee must maintain the highest levels of hygiene, particularly after going to the bathroom.
Employers Concern for Quality: Employee is expected to produce donuts that are cooked well.
Employers Need for Productivity: The employee is expected to make between 50 and 100 donuts per day and be ready to make more donuts quickly, as they are needed,
Flexibility/Rigidity of Observed: Small breaks are fine when there are plenty of fresh donuts ready for sale