Issue 91 – Leigh’s Corner – Article No.39

Joshua Easton

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Article No.39 


It is important that employees understand what they are required to do when they come to work and what is expected of them by the employer and their work

This can be achieved by having in place suitable job descriptions and Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

This may seem like a basic part of the employment relationship; however, many workplace disputes are caused by issues related to the lack of suitable job
descriptions which cause friction in the work environment daily, and these issues grow quite often into serious disputes.

In offices or work locations where roles are shared among a group of employees there may be differences in the qualifications and experience of employees
and depending upon the duration of employment, there may be differences in rates of pay even though the duties are similar.

Where shared duties are a part of the daily tasks such as answering telephones or client services, past practices and individual client relationships and
a lack of clear and definitive job descriptions and work flow documents can create friction between employees.

It is recommended that processes and procedures are documented in a workplace procedures manual so that if staff leave the organisation or are sick or
injured somebody in the organisation can perform their duties.

This is particularly important where the employee handles invoicing, and accounting practices however it really applies to all roles.

Simple tasks like telephone answering and dealing with client/customer complaints should be uniform and all new staff should be trained in these techniques
when inducted into the workforce.

All new employees should be provided with a letter of offer which sets out their classification, wage rates, award coverage (where applicable) and other
Fair Work requirements as well as a detailed job description.

It is counter-productive to start a new employee without providing them with an induction into the workplace and an explanation of what their role is in
the organisation and what duties they are required to perform.

There are extremes often adopted by employees in relation to job descriptions where they reject a request to perform a task when requested by their employer
or supervisor on the basis that “is not in my job description”.

However, a job description is a generic statement which defines the scope of work able to be performed by an employee dependent upon their qualifications,
experience and training.

Most Modern Awards contain generic job descriptions that may assist this process.

It is not meant to be exclusive or inflexible, nor is it possible to put every possible task an employee may be required to perform during their employment.

An employee can be requested to be flexible and to perform any duties that they are qualified, trained or able to perform or could perform after limited
instruction or training.

Now is a good time of the year to review employee job descriptions, contracts and agreements to ensure that they meet your current requirements and regulatory

It is also important to keep job descriptions and KPI’s updated where there has been organisational change or even if they just have not been reviewed
for a long period of time.

Failure to do so may be interpreted as failure to follow a lawful instruction and may lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal where an
employee fails to work as directed.

This is another reason why it is important to have employees understand their roles and responsibilities

and to have work procedures documented and accessible.

Many organisations rotate staff between roles where possible and swap some roles for holiday relief so that employees can learn and understand other roles
in the organisation and apply multi-skilling and flexibility in the workplace.

KPI’s are an integral part of the employment relationship and they need not be overly complex, but they can greatly assist employees to understand their
role in the organisation and the contribution that they can make.

It is incongruous that most senior management positions will have an employment contract and quite specific KPI’s often linked to a bonus or share scheme
but below Manager level few organisations compile KPI’s for other positions.

KPI’s can and should be part of the normal performance appraisal process and they allow both the employer and employee to understand what they are doing
and how well they are performing.

These indicators can be varied depending on the organisational requirements and should form part of ongoing dialogue between the employer and employee.

KPI’s also provide a framework for management to steer the organisation and/or specific tasks or operational requirements in the required direction with
the cooperation of the employees, while also assisting with performance management and productivity enhancement.

New equipment, technological change and operational circumstances are all part of the business landscape, so it is important to ensure that your employees
and their duties continue to meet the changes and maximise their contribution to the workplace.

Please note that this is general advice for information only and any application of legislation and/or Industrial Relations or contractual requirements may require professional advice to suit your individual circumstances.

If you have question for Leigh’s team send us an email ……. [email protected]