Job Analysis: Why Do It, and How Should It Be Done?

Article excerpt

There is an established legal need for job analysis. In an article entitled Selection's Uniform Guidelines Help, Hindrance, or Irrelevancy? Christopher Daniel points out, "Courts continue to decide selection cases, often deferring to The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures" (1989, p.68). The Uniform Guidelines published in the Federal Register has a great deal to say about the legal need for job analysis. As stated in the Guidelines, job analysis is a critical element to the three types of validation: content, criterion-related, and construct. If an employer wishes to demonstrate to the courts that the selection process used for an employment decision was valid, the employer will need to start from the basis of a current job analysis.

Not only are there legal reasons for job analysis but there are also important management considerations as well. Long before the August 1978 publication of the Guidelines and the legal significance attached to job analysis, there was considerable published data and information on the subject. The ASPA Handbook of Personnel and Industrial Relations (1974 PP. 4-43, 4-81) cites a variety of methods for conducting job analysis. Functional Job Analysis, Task Inventories, Job Information Matrix System (JIMS), Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) are some of the approaches discussed. The U.S. Department of Labor published the Handbook for Analyzing Jobs (1972) which served as the "bible" for job analysis. Health Education and Welfare published the National Task Bank (1975), a significant contribution of eight volumes to list the tasks in social welfare. Dr. Eleanor Gilpatrick director of the Health Services Mobility Study (1971), analyzed the work of the health system for the purpose of developing critical training programs. The United States Air Force Occupational Research Project (1973), headed by Raymond E. Christal, conducted job surveys of occupations in the Air Force.

The desire by business and government to manage work and the human resources of an organization requires the study, analysis, and organization of work activities which make up jobs. The need to manage work activities established a need for job analysis before the Uniform Guidelines called attention to its legal significance.

An important question to consider is: will compliance with the Guidelines not only result in a "legal" personnel system but an improved process for obtaining, retaining and managing an organization's work and its human resources? This question raises for consideration the issue of the quality of job analysis practices prior to the Guidelines. How well do the job analysis techniques developed prior to the guidelines comply with the standards set by the guidelines? Many of the job analysis procedures developed prior to the Uniform Guidelines are very complicated. They included elements such as traits, aptitudes, and interests which put the job analysis process in the criteria-related or construct categories of the Guidelines. Because job analysis procedures developed before the Guidelines used these complicated concepts, they require very difficult and costly validation procedures.

Job Analysis Principles

It is important to take note that the Uniform Guidelines (1978) state, "Any job analysis should focus on the work behavior(s) and the tasks associated with them. If work behavior(s) are not observable, the job analysis should identify and analyze those aspects of the behavior(s) that can be observed and the observed work products" (1978, p.38302). The above reference comes from the technical standards for content validity of the Guidelines. This description is very important for establishing what is meant by job analysis. According to the Guidelines, job analysis is a record of observable behaviors or observable work products. Job analysis is not a record of thought processes, attitudes, traits, constructs or initiatives. This definition is a significant departure from much of the job analysis procedures which preceded the Guidelines. …