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.

Related resource: Top 10 Most Affordable Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

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.