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Have you ever worked someplace where all of a sudden there was an announcement that the company was realigning and certain roles and positions would change? More than likely, that was the result of a job analysis. Depending on the company size, it can be a huge undertaking. Job analyses are not easy or simple, but are they necessary?

What is Job Analysis?

A job analysis is a process of breaking down and defining the work or activities performed by a machine, individual, or team in order to complete a task, and they are extremely important. The results give the organization (usually HR) the information needed to develop strategies to become more efficient.

For instance, if you want to know how to construct a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you will need to know how many people are involved and what materials and skills are needed. Once you have the necessities, you can then examine each step for quality and experiment with integrating new technology, materials, or individuals into or out of the process.

What are the benefits?

A good job analysis will not only provide you with the amount of time and the number of people, machines, and the materials involved but also the total production costs, including materials and labor. Also, by performing a job analysis you can determine if someone or something is not doing enough or is doing too much. You may actually discover a better way of doing it altogether—that’s why it’s a key component to creating organizational goals and metrics.

I must admit I watch the show “Undercover Boss” from time to time, and it never ceases to amaze me how terrible the bosses’ disguises are. But, always, without fail, once the boss goes undercover they discover that someone is not performing the job the way it was intended. The root cause for this varies.

Sometimes employees stop using a new system, or they have to cover for another employee, or they weren’t properly trained, or sometimes they just decide not to follow procedures. Then there are times when the employee has a great idea that could be implemented company-wide and save lots of money once the boss finds out about it. None of this would be possible without a job analysis.

What are the methods?

There are several job analysis methods. However, the most popular are the observation method, the interview method, and the questionnaire method. The Undercover Boss show uses the observation method perfectly because you get to see the employees working in their normal environment without fear of upper management.

I also recommend the questionnaire and interview methods—simply because you will be surprised at what people say they do versus what they actually do. As a career coach, I use the interview job analysis method all the time to ask clients about their day-to-day duties. Most employees are performing duties that are outside of their job descriptions.

Finally, there are many resources available regarding job analyses, but it’s important to understand why you’re performing a job analysis.

  1. Are you documenting job duties?
  2. Are you considering a reorganization?
  3. Are you looking for areas of improvement? Or are you simply curious about how company goals are accomplished?

It’s important to perform the job analysis with an open mind because the process will reveal whether or not you should update your job descriptions, positions, internal talent, recruiting process, training, and even compensation.

Click here to discover our Slideshare Presentation and learn more about the requirements and best practices in performing a job analysis, understanding labor laws and their impact on recruitment!


  • Samantha C. says:

    I appreciate “Undercover Boss,” but I never thought of the actions in the show as some of the steps from a job analysis process. It proves to be a good method of validating job specifications and even employees.

  • Evelyn M. says:

    We were in the middle of reorganizing our company and we wanted to know how our employees were doing. We interviewed them about their activities and were surprised to find out how many of them were doing things outside their job description, proving why job analysis is so important. 

  • Chris says:

    It’s amazing how much you can learn when you ask. Kudos to you all for having those conversations.

  • Chris says:

    Samantha C,

    I am such an HR geek, I seem to find the HR play in almost anything – but with Undercover Boss, they observe some pretty incredible behavior from employees. Sometimes is really good stuff too.

  • Harper H says:

    It might take a lot of time and work to perform a job analysis, but it will benefit the recruitment process, internal evaluation, and help in developing a valid strategy for HR in all matters of their department. 

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