Half of HR managers think this creates false expectations and poor employee fit

Research has revealed a correlation between staff turnover and poorly defined job descriptions in the UK.

A study by global management consultancy Hay Group found that 51 per cent of HR managers believe that poor job descriptions can mislead employee expectations and ultimately drive them to leave.

And worryingly, 68 per cent said badly considered job descriptions contributed to weak candidate pools, which exacerbates the problem of poor candidate fit.

Three-fifths of respondents said the issue resulted in HR and hiring managers wasting time with candidates who have the wrong skills.

And unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents (86 per cent) said good job descriptions lead to better quality candidates. However, 42 per cent believe that the quality of job descriptions drafted in their organisations are poor and more than three quarters (79 per cent) agreed that getting good job descriptions from managers is time consuming.

On average, a third of UK organisations experience staff turnover rates above 21 per cent each year, Hay Group said. This comes at a significant cost to many as the research revealed that staff turnover is costing companies with 100 to 249 employees more than £138,000 per year.

Adam Burden, consultant at Hay Group, said: “The lack of clarity is demotivating for individuals, and affects engagement and loyalty to the organisation. This has a knock on effect for teams, which are much more likely to perform when each member has an accurate picture of their role.”

HR managers in the retail, engineering and legal sectors, in particular, identified a strong relationship between poor job descriptions and greater staff turnover. In the retail sector, 67 per cent of respondents said a poor job description leads to mismatched job expectations, causing employees to become unhappy and leave. And three-fifths of HR managers in the engineering sector believed badly written job descriptions result in poor consistency and quality across the business. Meanwhile, 83 per cent of HR managers in the legal sector said poor job descriptions affected existing employees as the wrong talent is brought into the organisation.

Burden added: “Get job descriptions wrong and there’s a risk you’ll recruit the wrong people. Get them right, however, and you can attract the best candidates, who know what to expect from the role and how to make an impact.”

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