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How to Define Job Duties and Responsibilities

Maintaining a professional environment is integral to the continued success of a business, whether it is a large corporation or small business. Properly documenting the duties and responsibilities of a position is a requirement to uphold the professional relationship that exists between an employer and their employees.

When creating new positions or developing a job listing, it is vital to have a clear list of the roles and responsibilities. An accurate and thorough list of job duties can have several other benefits in the long run, besides creating a professional work environment.

By creating a clearly defined and well-documented list of roles and responsibilities for your employees, you can ensure that they are working efficiently and that you are encouraging a professional workspace.

What Are Job Duties and Responsibilities?

The duties and responsibilities of a job are the tasks an employee in that position should complete regularly. When you define the duties and responsibilities of a job, you are effectively defining its role in the business.

When creating a job posting, create a list of the key responsibilities of the position. As an example, here is a list of some duties that data entry employees might have:

  • Accurately input large numbers into a spreadsheet
  • Answer phones and respond to emails
  • Perform clerical tasks such as copying files
  • Maintain logs on outgoing orders

Duties and responsibilities will vary depending on what role a job should fulfill. They will reflect what function the position should have in the business.

How Should You Define Job Duties and Responsibilities?

One way to start defining the duties and responsibilities of a position is to ask questions.

Asking questions will help you break down what you want from a position andhelp you gain a greater understanding of what a job does.

  • You can begin asking these questions by considering your expectations for the position.
    What do I want to have accomplished through filling this position?
  • What business needs does this position fulfill?
  • How should the role of this position interact with those of other employees?

It may also be a good idea to ask the people who will work with those in the position what they believe is needed to fill the role. Doing this can help you learn what gaps in duties and responsibilities presently exist. This information can let you tailor the position to fit the needs of your team.

Going over the current roles of your team can help you discover where there are overlaps in responsibilities. This knowledge can help you effectively manage each position. Letting you get a better grasp on what duties a specific role should be responsible for in the larger scheme of your business.

Once you understand what a position should be, you can start defining the duties and responsibilities.

How to Create a List of Job Duties and Responsibilities

It is understandable to want as much bang for your buck from your employees as possible, but it is also important to keep expectations realistic. A list of the responsibilities of a position should reflect what those in the role will be doing.

The list does not have to be an accurate representation of a typical day, but it should have the ability to inform others of what the position’s function is and what duties are under its purview. This is especially helpful when creating a job listing — attracting the best candidates to apply.

It is also helpful for employees to have their most important duties described within a list of responsibilities. When it comes to priority, on what aspects of the job should an employee focus? How should the duties of this position be performed? The specifics may change over time, but employees need to know where to spend most of their time or efforts to work efficiently.

Clearly defining the most vital roles of a job lets managers and supervisors accurately estimate what work an employee can accomplish in any given situation. Realistic expectations can prevent employees from becoming overburdened, which will decrease their productivity in the long run.

How to Describe the Roles and Responsibilities of a Job

Once you have created a list of roles and responsibilities for a position, you should begin making an accurate description of the job to go along with it. Having the roles of a job more thoroughly described is helpful for new hires or when introducing new responsibilities.

A good role description keeps employees informed of their actual place within a business. A description of duties should be easily understandable and should avoid inaccurate jargon.

To describe the responsibilities of a job, consider what a typical day for an employee in the position would be. Describe what qualities an employee should have to perform their job effectively.

Example of a Description of Job Duties and Responsibilities

Here is an example of what a job description for a store associate position might look like:

Job Description: Store associates are responsible for providing excellent customer service and maintaining a friendly atmosphere for customers. They hold high standards of service when interacting with customers. They swiftly and accurately handle transactions on the company’s transaction software. Store associates are responsible for maintaining the number of products on shelves. They should be able to work independently and without direction.


  • Handle customer transactions with a cash register
  • Ensure quality customer service is provided to customers
  • Help maintain adequate stock on the store floor
  • Follow additional directions from supervisors
  • Maintain knowledge of services and products
  • Maintain store cleanliness

Combining a description of a job’s role with a list of its duties and responsibilities creates a good start for a job posting. Adding a section on required qualifications and more specific information would make it a complete listing.

Why Should Job Duties and Responsibilities Be Defined?

A good definition of ensures you will meet the needs of the company and team.

Attract Better Candidates

An accurate and representative list of duties and responsibilities will attract competent candidates to apply to your listing. It shows that you understand the role in question and know what you are doing.

Providing an accurate list shows potential candidates that your business is a good place to work and that they will be able to do the job for which they are applying.

Quality candidates will ignore job postings where the list of duties is unclear. They will skip looking at jobs with a list of duties that do not correlate with the functions of the position.

If a job’s description of duties is unclear or inaccurate, it may attract candidates unsuited to the needs of your business. Inaccuracies waste time for both the business and the applicant, creating frustration stemming from a lack of proper communication. Posting an inaccurate job listing may even harm the reputation of your business.

Create a Good Working Environment

Building a good working environment is an easy way of boosting employee efficiency. By defining a role and its responsibilities, you set clear expectations for you and your employees. This helps encourage communication, an essential element in creating a good working environment.

Having the role of a position defined and documented can boost teamwork amongst coworkers. When each team member understands their roles, they will be better able to determine who is responsible for what tasks.

Documentation of responsibilities creates accountability and fosters cooperation, letting everyone perform their tasks with minimal issues.

Reduce Redundancy and Fill Gaps

Creating lists of duties and responsibilities reveals where overlap across positions is present. By recognizing where unnecessary redundancy exists, you can take steps to reduce it. Reducing redundancy will promote better workflow amongst team members, allowing them to focus on their other tasks.

Like redundancy, defining a job’s responsibilities can show where essential tasks are not being completed or are unassigned to a specific position. By filling those gaps, you can increase overall employee productivity.

Gaps in duties that are not assigned are generally filled by team members who already have a full set of responsibilities. Taking on the added work caused by gaps can lower the productivity of an employee and slow down the work of the entire team. Leaving gaps unfilled prevents employees from focusing on their roles.

Save Time

When employees know what they should be doing, they waste less time doing unimportant tasks. Minimizing wasted time is particularly important when a new employee gets hired, letting them adjust to their position faster, and saving the business money.

Having their responsibilities listed and their role clearly defined, new employees can integrate into existing teams much faster. New employees will start their job knowing how their position interacts with others and what duties they should focus on learning first.


Clearly defined roles and responsibilities make businesses run better. Thorough and accurate documentation is essential to building a professional atmosphere in the workplace and can boost employee productivity. When employees know what expectations their employers have for them, they can work more effectively. Having an accurate list of duties helps foster communication between employers and employees.