Creating and Defining Clear Job Expectations for Employees

By PrismHR

A lack of clear job expectations is one of the biggest causes of employee turnover and poor performance in today’s workplace.

How many times have you hired a new employee and then 3 months into employment you hear …”It’s not in my job description to (enter task)”.  Next thing you know, you are spending company budget dollars that could be used to grow the business to source and recruit a new employee for the same job opening that you just hired and trained for.

Unfortunately, the old “performs other duties as assigned” just doesn’t resonate with today’s workforce as it has in the past. As HR and hiring managers, the amount of time that you invest in writing and clearly defining your job expectations will more than pay for itself by lowering turnover and increasing employee satisfaction. So, how can we more clearly define employee expectations?

Here at PrismHR, we help our clients write performance expectations/profiles for employees by following Lou Adler’s SMARTe guide for creating performance profiles.

Lou Adler’s SMARTe Guide for Defining Clearer Job Expectations [Template]

Adler recommends that every job has 6-8 performance objectives that define job success. These are not skills or qualifications based, but rather a definition of what an employee must accomplish, in this position, to be considered a successful employee.

The employee job expectations template below is from Adler’s book and is a fantastic outline for any hiring manager that wants to source and recruit better employees. Top-level talent looks for jobs differently in today’s job market; that has already been proven. Well written performance profiles in your job descriptions will make that job more appealing to those candidates than a regular job advertisement posting would.

Below are the six factors that you should consider when defining and writing your employee expectations.

Your job expectations for your employees should be SMARTe:


Always include what needs to be accomplished on the job so that others understand it. Do not create vague or general duties. ”Performs other duties as assigned” – will not work.


You should always attempt to create a performance objective that is measurable and not based on subjective data elements.


Using action verbs will more accurately describe to the employee what is expected of them for each task.


Always create performance objectives that are not only measurable, but also tied to results.


Wherever possible, employee expectations and performance objectives should include a beginning and ending date or at least a statement of how long the task should take to complete.


Describes the company culture, expectations and resources as clearly as possible.

Writing clear, concise job expectations is not an easy task. It takes time, thought and the ability to precisely define the duties of a job that you don’t regularly perform. 

While it might be difficult at first, the utilization of the above job expectations template will help you be consistent with the format of how all employee expectations are written at your company. In turn, the success you have in sourcing, recruiting, hiring and retaining top-level talent using these new profiles will soon begin to increase and dollars spent on turnover will decrease.

** Adler, Lou (2007). Hiring With Your Head. Using Performance-Based Hiring to Build Great Teams. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Next Steps For Your Business

If you are a small or midsize business looking to improve your employees’ job performance and clarify job expectations from day one, our HR software for small business can help.

It provides a very easy way to manage employee performance to help you get the most our of your workers. It can also help you simplify payroll, reduce the hassle of getting low cost insurance and other benefits, and reduce paperwork and time spent managing HR.

We can also help reduce the headaches of managing HR by connecting you with our network of HR outsourcing partners so you can focus on what matters most – growing your business. If you’re unfamiliar with the PEO model of outsourcing HR, check out our guide to what is a PEO?

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