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Why Defining Responsibility in a Workplace Is a Must

Defining responsibility in a workplace is a core ingredient for success. When everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, the workforce is more confident and productive, and there’s less chance of tasks getting duplicated or missed. With labor constituting such a major cost for most companies, making sure operations are organized is vital for the bottom line, as well as attracting and retaining top talent.

Keep reading to learn more about the importance of clearly defining and documenting roles and responsibilities for your employees and business.

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Roles and responsibilities in a workplace

Roles and responsibilities are tasks carried out on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis to keep your business running smoothly. While hiring talented, qualified employees is important, the onus is on you as a leader to attract, train and retain them. By creating clearly defined job roles, you can carefully match job applicants’ skills, personalities and pitfalls to each position to build an unstoppable team.

What’s more, when all duties are assigned to an individual or group, it’s easy to troubleshoot issues, praise excellent work and hold the right people accountable for mistakes. Going the extra mile and training all employees in all job roles helps everyone operate as a cohesive team that’s focused on mutually accomplishing your vision, goals and mission.

It’s the duty of decision-makers to document roles and responsibilities for each position and make them known to employees. When it comes to job performance and satisfaction, certainty fosters confidence and efficiency. Confident employees are more engaged with their jobs, and engaged workers are more productive.

Why is defining responsibility important?

If you’ve been operating your business and working within the same sector for a long time, the duties you carry out on a daily basis probably feel intuitive. When we’re experts in our field, roles and responsibilities seem like second nature.

However, when you’re a new starter in a new job with a ton of rules, systems, procedures and people to get to know—everything can seem alien. Even if you’ve been in a similar role for years, the specifics of each workplace vary significantly. Well-defined roles and responsibilities give each employee the opportunity to perform at their best.

One of the most effective ways to get the most out of new starters as quickly as possible is clearly defining all duties. It makes the tricky first three to six months of working in a new role infinitely easier and takes pressure off managers and other workers.

Look at it this way: everyone has received flat-pack furniture or had to drive to a place they’ve never been before. Imagine how much longer it would take, and how unpleasant you would feel, if you had to do it without clear instructions. Expecting employees to perform at their best without defining their responsibilities wouldn’t be any different.

Below are the benefits of defining roles and responsibilities in the workplace.


Having a comprehensive understanding of the roles in your organization can help you create job descriptions for new roles. This is because a detailed job description outlining roles and responsibilities helps you hire the most suitable candidate for the job.

For example, if public speaking at weekly meetings is a required responsibility for finance managers in your company, include it as a requirement in the job ad and description. This way, you can help to ensure those who apply for the position understand and have a degree of public speaking experience.


Training is one of the main reasons why clearly defining responsibilities in a workplace is so useful. Water-tight job descriptions can form the basis for training materials and act as a guide to help new employees excel in their role. In addition, training managers can devise sessions based on the job description, which adds to brand consistency.

You probably already know that the more consistent and polished your brand is, the better it attracts and retains investors and customers. However, the same goes for hiring and keeping great employees. A high-quality, loyal team acts as frontline ambassadors to your customers. The more knowledgeable and enthusiastic they are, the better they perform and the better your company comes across to stakeholders.


Once you have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in place, onboarding and training becomes much easier. You’ll notice the difference as soon as you implement a structured policy for defining responsibilities of employees. Starting a new job is stressful and employees have to take in a lot of information quickly. A thorough job description can make all the difference to a new employee.

When a new worker knows exactly what to do because they have a thoughtfully written job description, they hit the ground running with a good impression of your company.


Setting clear job duties and roles for each of your employees might prevent one or more roles from overlapping in their responsibilities. Plus, well-defined duties reduce or eliminate the possibility of essential tasks getting missed.

Furthermore, training all employees on an overview of every job encourages employees to engage with your company. Engaged employees work harder and they’re more likely to go the extra mile to help if they can see a gap in daily operations that needs to be filled.


When an employee understands their role and responsibilities in an organization, it creates accountability. Not only is the employee personally more accountable for their duties because they know what’s expected of them, decision-makers can quickly and efficiently praise good work or locate the source of problems.

Take a second to imagine a workplace where there are no clearly defined roles. Passing blame when it comes to mistakes or taking credit for ideas and improvements becomes easy, and it’s hard to nurture a confident, productive team.

Teamwork and collaboration

By separating team members’ roles and responsibilities, you can promote a work environment where employees can count on one another to complete a project. This can help employees develop a sense of community with their coworkers and unify your company.

All business owners and managers know that a team of people who are loyal to each other and the company deliver the best results. Defining responsibility within your organization from the top down forms the foundation of a collaborative and productive team.


Employees having a clear understanding of their place within your company and confidence in their duties contributes to less confusion, fewer errors and enhanced job satisfaction. In addition, workers are more likely to help each other out and cover tasks during holidays and times when staffing levels are lower. These factors combined can help elevate your company’s productivity and efficiency.

6 sSteps to define responsibilities for employees

If you don’t have a clear policy and documentation for roles and responsibilities in place currently, creating them is simple. What’s more, the process will help you get a clear idea of the bigger picture within your organization in view of making it more profitable.

Use the following steps as a guide to help you define responsibilities in the workplace for heightened productivity and teamwork.

1. Review the current situation

To help assess your employees’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities within the company, give them one or more ways to provide feedback for you to review.

For example, you might hold a meeting with each individual department to determine if one or more departments need better-defined roles. You may also send out a survey for your employees to complete, asking them to outline the responsibilities they perform.

You can then use the feedback to help in the process of compiling new job descriptions. Interviews and surveys also give you the opportunity to touch base with employees and gain insight into how engaged and motivated staff is.

2. Analyze historical job descriptions

You can also review the job descriptions you used to attract the employees to the roles they’re in now. You may realize that one or more roles and responsibilities you included in that listing no longer apply to that position. You could also realize that the job description only provides a vague description of the position’s responsibilities within the company.

3. List all duties in the workplace

Make a list of your company’s current responsibilities to compare to the current job descriptions. To do this, go through the entire customer journey from their first impression to the final follow up. Then, identify every task and duty that needs to take place in order for your clients to have the perfect experience, and sort them into roles according to individual and departmental roles.

4. List employees strengths and weaknesses

Meet with department heads to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each member of their department. From this, you may discover redundant roles or multiple roles sharing a duty meant for one person. This may allow you to create new roles within the department to maximize your employees’ potential and your company’s overall productivity.

5. Meet with employees

Before you decide to make changes to an employee’s role and responsibilities, be sure to meet with them to see how they feel. You can also use this as an opportunity to outline their new, distinct job responsibilities and how they will relate to the rest of the department and company as a whole.

6. Create new job descriptions

You might have to revise the new roles and responsibilities within your company to accommodate your customer’s needs and to optimize operations. Use the new job descriptions as a guideline for new employees and train them on every duty contained therein. Be careful to re-train current employees on the new job descriptions to make sure legacy employees are in alignment with new hires.

If you’re concerned about your bottom line, fine-tuning job roles and responsibilities for employees is an excellent way to approach hiring or downsizing. Understaffed businesses can’t deliver on customer expectations and overstaffed companies struggle with productivity and efficiency.

Use the tips above to help you strike the perfect balance, with a tight-knit workforce of engaged employees with clearly defined job roles.

Defining responsibility in the workplace FAQ

What’s the definition of responsibility?

Responsibilities in the workplace are duties that an individual or department carries out on a regular basis. When an employee or manager is responsible for a task, you can hold them accountable in case the task isn’t carried out or praise them for a job well done. All employees are responsible for their own health and safety, plus taking reasonable care for others who might be affected by their acts.

How do employees show responsibility?

As an employer or manager, it’s good practice to regularly take stock of the attitude and performance of employees. When assessing whether an employee is taking responsibility for their actions, consider the following questions. Do they seek out additional tasks when their duties are complete? Are they proactive to an appropriate degree? Are they passionate about the company and go the extra mile to become experts in their role? Do they help customers and colleagues?

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