A poor job description is a significant contributor to staff turnover in organisations of all sizes across the UK, according to new research from global management consultancy, Hay Group.

The research shows that 51 percent of HR managers believe poor job descriptions can mislead employee expectations, resulting in them being a poor fit and ultimately driving them to leave. Moreover, 68% say poor job descriptions contribute to weak candidate pools and 59 percent believe they result in wasted time with irrelevant candidates who have the wrong skills.

Adam Burden, consultant, 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.”

On average, one third of UK organisations experience staff turnover rates above 21 percent each year. This comes at a significant cost to many: the research revealed that staff turnover is costing companies with 100 – 249 employees over £138,000 per year.

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 percent of respondents said a poor job description leads to mismatched job expectations, causing employees to become unhappy and leave.

60 percent of HR managers in the engineering sector believed badly written job descriptions result in poor consistency and quality across the business. Meanwhile, 83 percent 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.”

86 percent of UK HR managers surveyed said good job descriptions lead to better quality candidates. However, 42 percent believe that the quality of job descriptions drafted in their organisations are poor and over three quarters (79%) agreed that getting good job descriptions from managers is time consuming.

Adam concluded:

“Every company in the UK can improve employee retention and team effectiveness by getting job descriptions right. But managers often don’t know where to start. Give them the tools they need, such as Hay Group’s Job Description web application, and empower line managers to create the right job descriptions, while HR maintains oversight. This not only speeds up the process but means managers, and the business, are using tried and tested information from Hay Group’s 70 years’ expertise on competencies and job evaluation.”