Much like another HR-related document (the employee handbook), job descriptions come in all shapes and sizes, lengths and languages, depending on a number of factors including industry, company size, and location. Many longer, more detailed job descriptions may include a section detailing overall expectations that apply to all employees, regardless of position. This statement will likely include expectations such as employee conduct and behavior, adherence to policies and procedures, and cooperation with members of management. In essence, a summary of some of the most pertinent and applicable policies from the employee handbook that apply to the job descriptions.

The employee handbook is a document that all employers should not only have, but should review regularly to ensure not only compliance with federal, state, and local law, but that the policies outlined in the handbook accurately reflect the culture of the organization and are worded appropriately. The job description should mirror this, both to make certain expectations are consistently communicated and responsibilities are clearly outlined.

Both the job description and the handbook can serve as an effective resource for managers when dealing with employees on a day-to-day basis. For example, the job description can provide a new employee with the essential functions of their job, but when that employee struggles with their performance a few months down the road, a supervisor can reference both those functions detailed in the job description coupled with guidelines for appropriate conduct in the handbook to ensure the employee is put on an appropriate performance improvement plan.

When written properly and the contents communicated regularly, job descriptions and handbooks tie hand-in-hand and are both documents vital in effective employee management. Both documents relay to employees what is expected of them, explain certain rights and responsibilities, and serve as an effective tool for supervisors in managing their employees.