functional job analysis

Functional job analysis (FJA) is a method used by human resources and industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologists to assess occupational roles within an organization. This method is characterized by a detailed examination of an individual’s abilities and overall qualification compared to the demands and expectations of their specific position within a larger structure. This type of job analysis is used in both private and public sectors to ensure that applicants or current employees are able to fill their occupational roles and responsibilities in a safe, productive manner.

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The Purpose of Functional Analysis

Employees are typically the most valuable and important resource in any company. Successful business leaders know that placing the right people in jobs that are suited to them is critical to long-term success. Ultimately, the purpose of any kind of job analysis is to ensure that employers invest in workers that can provide overall value to their organization. This includes a thorough investigation of an individual’s ability to perform their job as well as the ways their performance could impact the work of other team members.

Emphasis on Qualitative Assessment

Functional job analysis is considered to be a qualitative form of assessment, which means it focuses on the unique combination of abilities and limitations of the individual employee. This makes it an effective way for employers to evaluate how each position in their organization impacts their overall operations. Conducting assessments from this perspective allows companies and organizations to scrutinize virtually every aspect of a job and how an individual’s unique set of physical, mental, and social abilities impact their performance in that capacity.

The Scales of Workplace Role Definition

There are many ways to conduct a functional occupational analysis, but all of them measure workplace roles through established scales. These scales are typically divided into seven categories: data, people, things, instruction, reasoning, math, and language. Some of these scales, like reasoning and language skills, evaluate the personal intellectual demands placed on a worker. Others, like data and instruction, focus more on the resources that the employer supplies to employees to help them do their job. Physical fitness, technical skills, and other specific qualifications may also be measured depending on the demands of the position. All of these scales define and influence an individual’s ability to fill a specific role within their organization.

Practical Applications for FJA

Companies and organizations often employ FJA methodology in order to create accurate job descriptions and when evaluating applicants. It allows them to define mandatory skills or abilities, like minimum strength for physically demanding work, compared to preferred or optional qualities. Functional analysis can also be used when injured employees are returning to work to coordinate the transition with the worker’s healthcare providers, according to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Advanced analytical techniques have become increasingly important to employers as technology continues to transform traditional workplace roles. Many modern occupations require a combination of many skills, abilities, and qualities that are difficult to define without comprehensive assessment. This makes functional job analysis an essential process for hiring managers, human resources professionals and business leaders who want to optimize overall performance throughout their organization.

How FJA Workshops are Conducted

The concept of FJA is one that requires cooperation between the management of a company and its workers. A typical workshop will include at least six people and may feature some employees who are highly verbal and communicative and other employees who are quieter and likely to let others take the lead during the workshop. Occasionally, FJA meetings are held with just two people that include the FJA representative or expert and one employee. Management team members aren’t usually included in the workshops or individual meetings, but they are consulted during the overall process.

Some of the common questions that may appear on questionnaires used during FJA workshops include those asking about income, requisite knowledge for the job, and required skills for the job. Other questions may request further specifics about the job’s required tasks, as well as the accepted performance standards used by management to grade the output of an employee. In addition to FJA workshops, there is also an extensive number of industry-accepted questionnaires available to employers.

Different Classification Systems for FJA

Created in 1972, the Position Analysis Questionnaire is a standardized list of questions used during FJA. There are 195 different elements that cover common human work behaviors. The Position Analysis Questionnaire is designed to be used for many different jobs. Another classification system is the Common Metric Questionnaire (CMQ), which is much newer than the Position Analysis Questionnaire. There are five overall sections in the CMQ that include background, work setting, physical activities, person-to-person contact, and decision making.

Developed in the early 1990s, the Fleishman Job Analysis Survey is an additional job analysis method that asks questions about the sensory, cognitive, psychomotor, and physical requirements of a job. The Fleishman Job Analysis Survey is mostly used as a way to rate the functioning requirements of jobs through the use of rating scales. The functional job analysis process may also use the Occupational Analysis Inventory (OAI) tool, which asks 617 questions about the work elements of a particular job. Like other questionnaires, the OAI covers several categories like information received, work goals, and mental activities.

Some employers use the Work Profiling System (WPS), which was designed to aid the human resources departments of modern companies. Traditional responsibilities of HR departments include functions like employee selection, employee development, and job descriptions. Companies who use the WPS may use one of three types of questionnaires for managerial occupations, service employment, or technical jobs. The questionnaire includes questions that measure facets like verbal skills, personality, team role, and hearing skills.

Job Descriptions Resulting from FJA

The primary result of a job analysis session is a new job description, which is designed to simplify the functions within the HR department, as well as help employees understand their responsibilities and what is required of them to secure a good performance evaluation. Job descriptions from FJA will always contain action words and the normal or daily duties that are required of an employee in a particular role. Duty statements should encompass no more than about three sentences and offer options to employees for performing a duty in multiple ways according to the employee’s preference.

There are ten different factors that should be discussed during the writing of every job description; however, every description won’t include all ten factors. For example, one factor is the hazards that may be present in the job. The description might need to offer details on whether an employee will be near moving or mechanical parts during the job or whether he or she will be working with explosives or be exposed to toxic chemicals. Not every job has hazards that will need to be defined in the job description, but it’s a facet of functional job analysis that should be considered, nevertheless.

Other factors that must be discussed during the creation of a job description include a list of equipment used, the environmental conditions of the job space, the mental requirements, and the communication required with other employees and non-company personnel. The physical demand of the job is also an important facet of the job description and requires considerations of the strength required during the performance of regular job functions and the movement required during the job. Other considerations include the auditory and visual demands of the job, as well as whether there are any requirements for taste and smell.

Each job factor examined during FJA may be defined in different ways, as well as be expressed at different levels. For example, in defining the movement requirements of the job, the description will need to explain whether there is any climbing, stooping, crouching, or reaching requirements of the job. Also under consideration will be the physical strength demands of the job, which may be defined as sedentary, light, medium, heavy, and very heavy. For the environmental conditions of the job, the description may include details on whether the employee will be exposed to any cold, hot, humid, or other extreme atmospheric conditions.

Employment for Those Trained in FJA

In most companies, functional job analysis is completed by the human resources department of the business and may be the responsibility of a job analyst or consultant hired by the organization. Some of the jobs that might be offered to individuals who are trained in FJA or who have experience in human resources include jobs like HR coordinator, human resources generalist, and human resources analyst. FJA experts may also work as managers in human resource departments, as assistant directors, or as consultants who are hired on a temporary or contract basis.

Some of the highest-paying jobs relating to FJA may be offered for contract or temporary positions. The route to becoming an HR trained in FJA will usually begin with time spent in college in an associate or bachelor’s degree program. Employment at the management level in HR may require a graduate degree, and jobs featuring FJA will often require additional training in a specialty program or in a college degree program that has an FJA concentration or minor.

Employees within HR departments that work with FJA may work as human resources specialists and earn approximately $61,920 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individuals who advance in their careers to human resources managers may receive much higher pay with median incomes reaching approximately $116,720 per year, according to further data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS expects faster than average growth of jobs within the nation’s human resources departments, which means learning about FJA may benefit an HR employee who wants to advance his or her career.

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