Poor job descriptions drive staff turnover

John O'Hanlon
- Leadership - Apr 21, 2015

The latest research from global management consultancy Hay Group reveals that a poor job description is one of the principal drivers of staff turnover in companies of all sizes across the UK, USA and Australia.   

The research shows that not being a good fit for the role and the job description misleading an employee’s expectations are the most important reasons employees leave organisations behind salary and career development.

·         58 percent of HR managers globally say poor job descriptions causing employees to leave

·         69 percent say incorrect job descriptions result in wasted time with irrelevant candidates with the wrong skills

·         The impact on business is significant, with staff turnover costing an average of $260,000 a year

HR managers in the retail, engineering and education sectors identified a strong relationship between poor job descriptions and greater staff turnover. In the engineering sector, an average of 72 percent of respondents from the UK, US and Australia said a poor job description can lead to mismatched job expectations, causing employees to become unhappy and leave. Similarly, 68 percent of HR managers in education and 66 percent in retail said badly written job descriptions contribute to higher staff turnover.

On average, more than one third of organisations experience staff turnover rates above 21 percent each year. This comes at a significant cost with the research showing that staff turnover costs large businesses (of 500+ employees) in the UK nearly $900 million a year, while in the US it costs $4.5 billion.

Iain Fitzpatrick, VP at Hay Group, comments: “Get job descriptions wrong and you’ll recruit the wrong people, demotivating the team and increasing staff turnover, leading to underperformance. Get them right and you can attract the best candidates, who know what to expect from the role and how to make an impact. A great team starts with great job descriptions.”

Nearly 90 percent of the 750 HR managers surveyed said that good job descriptions lead to better quality candidate pools. However, 72 percent agreed that getting high quality job descriptions from managers is a time consuming process.

Iain Fitzpatrick concludes: “Every company has the ability to improve employee retention by getting its job descriptions right. But job descriptions aren’t in most managers’ job descriptions. This leads to them producing versions that are mismatched from the rest of the business or avoiding doing them altogether, overloading HR managers’ already hectic schedules.

“Giving managers the tools they need, such as Hay Group’s Job Description web app, ensures that HR can empower line managers to create the right job descriptions, whilst keeping control. This not only speeds up the process but means managers, and the business, are using tried and tested information gained from Hay Group’s competency modelling and job evaluations work with over 12,000 companies worldwide.”

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