Prevent It

WorkWell's Workplace Injury Prevention Blog

Five Ways Outdated Functional Job Descriptions Put You at Risk

Food DistWhether your workers have been employed for years, or you have some job openings to fill, you should periodically review and update all Functional Job Descriptions (FJDs). While the job’s professional requirements and skills may still be accurate, the physical demands of the role may have changed.

Over time, job responsibilities can evolve and workers’ activities may transition to accommodate heavier workloads, advanced equipment, etc. If these new physical requirements aren’t documented in the FJD, your workforce has a greater chance of musculoskeletal or soft tissue injury, and new hires may be overwhelmed by strenuous physical job requirements they can’t safely perform. This can increase your organization’s risk for workers’ compensation claims and EEOC grievances.

Updated FJDs Expedite Workforce Planning

Keeping FJDs updated and valid helps prepare organizations for long-term workforce wellbeing and future hires. Each job’s functions and movements, and their frequency, should be fully evaluated, precisely measured, classified as essential or nonessential, and fully documented in the FJD. These requirements can then serve as the foundation of your Post Offer Employment Testing (POET) program, helping ensure new hires can physically perform the tasks of the specific job they are hired for.

Updated FJDs can also give managers a clear perspective of current workforce requirements and future priorities, for optimized hiring results and higher productivity. This view is critical for effective employee training and development activities as well as hiring qualified people.

The Risks of Outdated FJDs

  1. A Mismatch between Employees and Physical Job Requirements – With outdated FJDs, you could easily hire workers whose physical abilities don’t match the job requirements. This can lead to higher turnover and greater recruiting costs for employers. An accurate FJD facilitates the recruiting process, helping unqualified applicants avoid applying for jobs they can’t adequately perform.
  2. Increased Injuries: Even seasoned employees can get injured if they’re unable to handle the job’s physical requirements, resulting in lost productivity. Updated, validated FJD’s can ensure only qualified workers perform the job’s essential physical tasks, protecting employers from escalating workforce injuries and compensation claims.
  3. Greater Risk for Litigation – Outdated and vague FJDs are a liability risk for your organization. When used to make employment decisions, physical demand information in a job description must be objectively measured and job-specific. If your FJDs are generic and include limited or inaccurate physical requirements, that increases the risk for legal disputes and government investigations. Accurate, validated FJDs comply with federal regulations and help minimize legal exposure.
  4. Poor Ergonomics can Diminish Productivity – Without a clear understanding of a specific job’s physical requirements, managers can miss workplace stressors that can lead to biomechanical breakdown and musculoskeletal injuries. By documenting the actual physical demands of a job, you can improve productivity and worker wellbeing by reducing potential ergonomic risk factors.
  5. Injured Workers Returning to Work Prematurely – Factual and detailed FJDs are integral to an employer’s return-to-work policy. Healthcare professionals depend on an objective summary of the job’s physical requirements to evaluate an injured employee’s ability to safely return to work after an extended illness or injury. Without that, employees may return to work prematurely, risking another injury and lengthy absence.

With our expertise in workforce wellness, WorkWell can help you design accurate and validated Functional Job Descriptions. Learn how updated FJDs helped one food distributor keep stores stocked.

New call-to-action

Learn more about Workwell's hiring services, Post Offer Employment Testing, and Functional Job Descriptions in the following posts: