1. K-State home
  2. »Human Resources
  3. » Time and Compensation
  4. »Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness
  5. »Position Descriptions

Human Resources

Position Descriptions

A position description, or PD, defines a job and describes the duties and responsibilities of a role. Accurate position descriptions are crucial to properly classify and determine pay for positions. Keeping position descriptions current helps K-State remain compliant with employment laws and regulations, including maintaining pay equity, and ensures that job requirements, qualifications, and expectations are consistent and fair, reducing the risk to the university. Detailed position descriptions provide clear expectations about job roles and responsibilities to employees and supervisors.

Purposes of Position Descriptions

  • Classification: Accurate position descriptions and organizational charts are necessary to properly classify positions within our compensation structure and determine appropriate placement. Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness, or COE, determines a position's classification after reviewing job duties and responsibilities of a given position. Jobs are evaluated and compared to others—both internally (at K-State) and externally (in the job market)—in order to ensure equity across classifications.
  • Legal Compliance:  
    • The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, prohibits discrimination in employment against qualified individuals with a disability. It requires employers to base employment decisions on the ability of the person to perform the job, not on the person's disability or limitations.
    • The Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, defines minimum wage, overtime status, and work categories, and provides child labor protection. Since the information provided on position descriptions is used to determine the FLSA status of jobs (exempt or nonexempt), PDs must accurately describe the work being performed.
    • The Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSHA, establishes safety and health standards to protect employees in the workplace. Accurate detail is important if the conditions are hazardous or unusual (e.g. noise, high voltage, chemical, etc.).
  • Record of Duties to be Performed (for Evaluation Purposes): A complete and accurate position description assists a supervisor in establishing performance objectives and conducting employee performance reviews. Clearly defined performance objectives allow for constructive discussions between the employee and supervisor.
  • Recruitment: Position descriptions are used to identify both minimum and preferred education and experience for a position. They include necessary knowledge, skills and abilities required to successfully perform a position. The position description also includes any special licensing, certifications, or other necessary requirements.

Developing a Position Description

The Position Description Form (PER-1) is a tool available for use when developing a new position description or collecting information to update a current position description. 

When developing a position description, consider using these three questions as a starting point for each category of duties:

1. What is done? (Describe the duty the position is responsible for accomplishing.)
2. How is it done? (What tools, methods, standards are used to complete the duty?)
3. What level of responsibility does this position have? (Does the position operate independently? Is it a leadership position?)

Determine which duties are essential, the primary purpose for the position, the level of independent judgment needed in the role, and any preferred qualifications (the minimum qualifications are determined by market and set by Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness).

Identify essential job functions (functions that the individual who holds or desires the position must be able to perform unaided or with the assistance of a reasonable accommodation). To determine if a function is an essential function, ask 1) if the task is critical to job success, and 2) if the task occurs infrequently, is it critical to successful job performance?

The PER-1 is a collection tool but is not required to be submitted to HR. PageUp is the system of record for position descriptions. Submitting a position description in PageUp is necessary in order for Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness to review and approve the PD.

How to Create/Update PDs in PageUp

Position Description Updates

Position descriptions should be updated in PageUp any time there is a change to a position's responsibilities or details, or when the need arises to recruit for a position. For filled positions, use the Employee Included-Update/Reclassification approval process. This will allow the employee to confirm they understand the changes to their position. Separate procedures should be followed when requesting a reclassification.

How to Create/Update PDs in PageUp

Position Review Process

Compensation & Organizational Effectiveness reviews position descriptions and makes classification and compensation determinations. The following process is used when reviewing PDs.

  1. Review job duties and responsibilities assigned to the position.
  2. Assess "best fit" for the position in the university's compensation structure based on job duties and responsibilities assigned to the position and comparison to similar roles at K-State.
  3. Determine the FLSA status.

Business Titles

Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness reviews business titles (also referred to as working titles) to ensure they reasonably reflect the job duties, responsibilities and level of the position.

Business titles may be used to:

  • Provide a more specific description of the function or work performed.
  • Better facilitate business communications.
  • Align with professional/industry practice.

Business titles should not:

  • Use elements of another official K-State job title.
  • Misrepresent the level of authority or responsibility of the position.

Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness reserves the right to deny a business title that does not follow these guidelines.

Accessing PDs in PageUp

Employees can access their own position description in PageUp and should work with their supervisors to discuss any changes. HR liaisons have access to the position descriptions within their department. For assistance locating PDs within PageUp, please contact hrcomp@ksu.edu.


Please reach out to the Compensation and Organizational Effectiveness team with any questions about position descriptions at hrcomp@ksu.edu. The team can assist with PD development, classification questions, and PageUp user issues. 

To learn more about compensation terms, please visit the compensation glossary.