The importance of job descriptions ... and why your practice needs them

July 11, 2011

By Michelle Kratt

Did you know as required by Employer Compliance Law you must have current written job descriptions for all employees?

Job descriptions are one of the most important pieces of documentation an employer must have. Why? They prevent lawsuits and increase productivity. In addition, they clarify and enhance communication between employer and employee, and they are critical in supporting nearly every employment action, including hiring, compensation, promotion, discipline, and termination. Of the calls we get, 99.9% regarding employment issues wouldn't take place if there had been clear guidelines from the start.

Employers must comply with a growing list of employment laws and regulations. If an employee or government agency challenges an employment decision, the job description is one of the most important documents an employer will be required to provide. Job descriptions help prevent wrongful termination lawsuits and charges of discrimination, help set appropriate salary levels, help you to hire a skilled team, and keep you in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and many other state and federal laws.

A good job description functions as a foundation for developing interview questions, carrying out performance evaluations, and setting goals, salary increases, and growth paths. Having the right people in the right positions performing their responsibilities correctly is vital to a practice's success. New hires should be given a copy of their job description during the interview so they know what will be expected of them and if they are capable of performing the required duties, or if training will be necessary. Current employees should be given a copy of their job description as part of a team meeting or during a performance evaluation to ensure everyone is on the same page, and to discuss any modifications.

When you prepare a job description it is important to include the following items:
• Position/Title
• Employee status (exempt/non-exempt)
• Who the employee directly reports to
• Job summary
• Qualifications
• Education and experience
• Certificates, licenses, and registrations that are required
• Physical requirements
• Work environment
• Competencies

It is also extremely important to include the phrase “and other duties as assigned" in the job description. This phrase gives the job description a little flexibility so that the employee can work outside the box.

Michelle Kratt brings more than 20 years of dental office experience to her new role in administration and practice-management consulting with Amy Smith Consulting, LLC. Michelle’s history and experience in dentistry is impressive. She is a fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers (AADOM) and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries. She is also the founder and president of NEDAT Study Club for dental administrative team members, and was recently recognized by AADOM for her efforts in this capacity. She can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].