HR trends

What Is Functional Job Analysis and How Does It Work?

Ivan Pištingli blog author

Ivan Pištingli

Nov 8th, 2021

Understanding job requirements ensures a better match between a company and a talent.

Employees are the most valuable resource in any company. Therefore, it is vital to assign the right person to every job position to maximize the benefit for the company while ensuring the continued growth of the talents. 

This can be difficult and requires constant work and improvement. However, there is something that can help in this endeavor, and it’s called functional job analysis.

What Is Functional Job Analysis?

The United States Department of Labor developed functional job analysis to standardize the data related to job roles. 

It is a qualitative assessment of data gathered to ascertain the talent's role in the company. This data is then used to document the job description, requirements, and valuable information on what to avoid for specific job positions. While this seems simple on paper, it becomes much more complicated as your company grows in size. With more talents and more different and specialized job positions, it becomes increasingly important to define each role and assign a suitable person to the job. 

To analyze the data to the most accurate level possible, functional job analysis accumulates data from the following factors: things, data, worker instructions, reasoning, people, maths, and language. We'll go through each of these factors later on in the article. 

Of course, due to the complexity of the data gathering process and the aspects that it covers, this kind of data is difficult to standardize. 

The Seven Categories of Functional Job Analysis

We’ve already mentioned that functional job analysis uses seven categories to describe what workers do in jobs: things, data, people, worker instructions, reasoning, math, and language.

  • Things are tools that talents use to perform the job in question. This covers many physical objects such as hammers, saws, axes, medical equipment, computers, and more. These tools need to be up-to-date, and the employees need to be well trained in using these tools. 

  • Data is information about items relevant to the job, such as job performance, tool efficiency, the effectiveness of procedures, and similar. The results of this analysis determine the necessity for change in the procedures and policies.

  • People category involves determining if the skills of a talent match the requirements of the position in question. This also includes how the talent interacts with the rest of the company, both the management and coworkers. 

  • Worker instructions determine how the processes within the company get done. It is essential to know if the instructions achieve the desired results. This also includes the impact of these instructions on the mental health and satisfaction of the workers themselves, as that is a vital part of achieving a healthy work environment. 

  • Reasoning refers to how workers are encouraged to think critically and suggest improvement in procedures and general thought processes. It is also essential to determine if the actual suggestions are valid and valuable. Since the workers are the ones using the procedures, they are the ones that can see how best to improve on them.

  • Math encompasses keeping financial records and auditing them. It also involves controlling the company accounts and finances. Crucially, this category needs to determine which workers can handle the mathematical side of such work but are also reliable enough to work with the company finances.

  • Language is all about communication and understanding, and whether the workers can easily understand what is required of them, both in writing and speaking. Language also covers if the workers can communicate their thoughts and ideas clearly.

There are other things to be considered, such as the physicality of any job position and the environment of the workplace. For example, the definition of a job position can change drastically depending on where the work is being done - working in a warm office or the freezing outdoors is not the same.


All of this must be covered by the functional job analyst, who is vital to any company. They will need to perform detailed testing and interviewing to ascertain the actual job descriptions and if the workers performing them fit the job. These analysts are an integral part of the entire company process and need to be highly skilled for this work.

The Purpose of Functional Analysis

The purpose of any job analysis is to ensure that the talents can provide value to their company. For that reason, the analyst will check many different factors that will determine the actual effectiveness of the talents and their effect on the organization as a whole. Its purpose is not to punish workers but to ensure that each person is in the most optimal position for the company and themselves. That way, the whole company can continue to grow and prosper.

What does Qualitative Assessment mean?

Functional job analysis is a qualitative assessment. That means it focuses on the individual employee and their skills and limitations. It is a detailed evaluation of virtually every aspect of a given job. This makes it highly detailed and specific but also time-consuming. It is not a template that can be created and then used for every job in the company. Instead, the analyst needs to look at every specific position, comparing the job requirements to the worker's existing skills and this is what makes it so valuable.

Is This the Right Tool for Your Company?

As technology continues to transform the workplace, new and advanced analytical techniques have arisen to help companies define the duties and responsibilities of every employee. However, with unique combinations of skills required for many jobs today, it can be challenging to define a role without comprehensive assessment. To ensure efficiency and productivity, companies need to include some solution to overcome these new challenges.

Using functional job analysis allows companies to create accurate job descriptions. In addition, it enables them to define minimum requirements and mandatory skills required for performing duties of any job position. All of this helps in choosing the right candidate for a position, deciding if a talent needs additional training, or knowing when a change is required.

However, due to the actual amount of data it requires, the process is time-consuming. Because of that, it is crucial to determine the cost to benefit ratio when deciding whether to use it. Not all job positions will be difficult to define; however, as technology advances, such techniques will become increasingly important.

In the end, learning about advanced techniques such as functional job analysis cannot be a bad investment. Whether you implement it fully, partially, or not at all, there might come a time when your company needs such tools. And having a good understanding of a job will lead to better strategic decisions, which ultimately is what every company is trying to achieve.


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