U.K.: Poor Job Descriptions = Poor Hiring, Survey Finds

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By Rick Vollmar

June 22—A poor job description has an adverse effect on hiring and can contribute significantly to staff turnover, research from global management consultancy Hay Group shows.

According to Hay's research, 51 percent of British HR managers believe that the use of poor job descriptions in the hiring process can give applicants false expectations of the work they will be doing and result in disappointment and dissatisfaction if they are hired, resulting in rapid staff turnover. Some 68 percent of hiring HR managers believe that poor job descriptions result in a weak candidate pool, while 59 percent believe they result in time wasted considering “irrelevant candidates” who don't possess the skills or experience necessary for the position.

“The lack of clarity is demotivating for individuals and affects engagement and loyalty to the organization,” said Hay Group consultant Adam Burden in the press statement announcing release of the survey. “This has a knock-on effect on teams, which are more likely to perform when each member has an accurate picture of their role.”

According to Hay, one-third of British employers have staff turnover rates above 21 percent, which research shows can cost companies with 100 to 249 employees over 138,000 pounds ($219,000) in annual hiring costs.

Getting It Right

“Get job descriptions wrong and there’s a risk you’ll recruit the wrong people,” Burden said. “Get them right, however, and you can attract the best candidates, who know what to expect from the role and how to make an impact.”

While 86 percent of British HR managers believe that good job descriptions result in better candidates, 46 percent believe the job descriptions drafted in their organizations are poor, and 79 percent attribute that to a disinclination on the part of managers to spend the time necessary to produce good ones or to managers' lack of training in writing job descriptions.

“Every company in the UK can improve employee retention and team effectiveness by getting job descriptions right,” Burden said. “But managers often don’t know where to start. Give them the tools they need . . . and empower line managers to create the right job descriptions, while HR maintains oversight.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

The HayGroup press release is available at http://www.haygroup.com/uk/Press/Details.aspx?ID=46240.

For more information on British HR law and regulation, see the U.K. primer.

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