Role clarity in your small or medium business

How to help your employees be clear on what they are expected to do in their role.



How this helps your business

Being clear on what is expected makes workers feel relaxed and in control, and ultimately drives positive mental health. It also means co-workers know the right person to go to when they need something done.

Having up-to-date job or position descriptions for your workers helps them understand exactly what they are expected to do. Job descriptions that aren't clear can cause frustration.

Key stats and facts

1 of 6  

Role clarity is 1 of the 6 key drivers in employee engagement, the relationships between a workplace and its employees.

Data Insights; Employee engagement in the Victorian public Sector, Victorian Public Sector Commission, 2016

Mental illness is now the leading cause of sick leave and long-term inability to work in the developed world.

beyondblue & PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2014

Step 1: Write job descriptions

All employees should have up-to-date job descriptions.

By involving your employees in updating their job descriptions, this gives them the chance to talk about their roles, including their challenges and areas for improvement.

A position description should include:

  • information about the purpose of their job
  • the skills and experience they need
  • who they report to and who reports to them
  • the main duties expected of them

Business Victoria has two job description templates you can use, depending on the amount of detail you want to include. You can modify or review the template that best suits your workplace.

If you hire apprentices, you can use Fair Work's 'Hiring employees' resources at the bottom of the page.

Step 2: Recruiting and induct new employees

Matching the right person to the job and team, and being clear on what their role and responsibilities are creates an environment that is mentally healthy for all.

Read these tips from Business Victoria which can help you to recruit and induct the right way. Consider an on-boarding system for your workplace's induction program. Checkout the Business Gov resource which provides helpful steps for recruiting and inducting new employees. 

Step 3: Improve your processes

Improving your hiring and induction process, streamlines the on-boarding process and contributes to setting the expectations for the workplace. Look at the following list and implement these items into to your hiring and induction processes. Making this a priority now, means you will be ready when you need to hire for a new position.

  • Clearly document position description
  • Information about the workplace - why you do what you do
  • Employee introductions - who is responsible for what
  • Occupational health and safety induction – including policy and procedures. Include information on evacuation procedures
  • Set clear behavioural expectations - make it clear that your workplace does not tolerate bullying, harassment, aggression or violence
  • Workplace goal setting process
  • Consider implementing a buddy or mentor system to support your new employees

Step 4: Review and keep improving

Make time with your employees to sit down, review their roles, clarify expectations and gain feedback around performance on a regular basis.

Having a shared understanding about roles is a good starting point to discuss objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This is also a good chance to discuss your employees' physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as identify areas for growth, especially if new processes have been introduced and additional skills or training are required.

Refer to Fair works performance review discussion plan template to help you prepare for discussions with your employees on performance. They also have some great tools including setting up a performance system checklist and performance agreement template.

Step 5: Talk with your staff

Collecting and analysing employee turnover and retention data can help your workplace make decisions for improving role clarity as well as other ways to keep your people longer.

Below are some ideas on how you and your workplace can gain information on role clarity in your workplace:

  • exit interviews
  • stay interviews – regular discussions to identify why your employees want to work for you
  • feedback through workplace specific social media or other engagement channels
  • performance appraisals
  • word of mouth / anecdotal information
  • employee focus groups
  • recruitment process – find out why people are attracted to the role and why they may have left their last role

More resources

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.