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Job analysis

Sometimes employers create job analyses for jobs. A job analysis is an in-depth description of a particular job. It breaks down the job’s specific tasks as well as the expectations of and demands on the employee who does it. This can include detailed information about the job’s tasks, working conditions and requirements including aptitudes, attitudes, skills, temperaments, as well as physical, psychological and cognitive demands. Job analyses are often created to help recruiting, training, as well as return to work and human resources planning. In the case of returning to work following disability or illness such as cancer, a job analysis is a useful tool to provide information about a job in order to assess whether someone is ready to return to work or what parts of the job need to be changed to enable someone to work again.

For more information, see:

The National Occupation Classification system – Descriptions that can be used in a job analysis

The Revised Handbook for Analyzing Jobs (PDF) – Originally published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Training and Administration, 1991

Obtain a job analysis from the employer

Many large organizations have on file a detailed analysis for each job. Obtaining  an employer-created job analysis can also be helpful for the healthcare provider because it becomes evident what the employer views as the essential duties of the job and what the employer expects before the employee is allowed to return to work. If possible, ask the survivors or those working with the survivor on their return to work such as a return to work coordinatordisability managervocational rehabilitation consultant or occupational health and safety personnel to obtain one from the employer for your reference.

You can use the employer’s job analysis to determine:

  • what job demands the employer expects your patient to fulfill
  • whether the patient’s current work abilities will enable them to fulfill the job demands
  • what further rehabilitation may be needed before they are ready to return
  • if rehabilitation will not likely improve work abilities, what accommodations are needed

Complete a Cancer and Work Job Analysis

(Adapted from the Job Analysis Tool in the BC Cancer Agency’s handbook Cancer and Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients.)1

If you cannot obtain a job analysis from the employer, consider asking your patient to create their own or collaborate with the patient to create a job analysis. The Cancer and Work Job Analysis tool will take you through each step, and allows you to work through the online form with your patient. Please remember that does not save the information you enter in online forms but does allow to print or save them on your own computer. Creating and reviewing job analyses with cancer survivors is a great way to open dialogue about any challenges they may anticipate in returning to or remaining at work. Job analyses may also help you identify opportunities to refer survivors to rehabilitation and further treatment.

Sample of a completed Cancer and Work Job Analysis

Click on the following link to view a completed job analysis summary using as an example a food service worker: View sample completed job analysis worksheet (PDF, BC Cancer Agency, page 67).

Estimate a typical workday

Ask your patient what they do every 15 minutes in a job. Note that sometimes the same job title can mean different things in different contexts. For example, a sales job could have different tasks depending on the workplace. In one workplace, selling could mean only talking on the phone and, in another, it could mean travelling all over the province to speak to customers in person.

Review the patient’s job description for essential and non-essential tasks

An important part of deciding whether a patient is ready to return to work is identifying the essential duties of the job to which they are returning. In other words, which tasks do they have to do themselves? These are tasks that cannot be given to others. Knowing the job’s essential duties will help you as a healthcare provider decide if the patient is ready to return to work. It will also help the employer decide if the patient can come back sooner, with some of their duties modified or given to others. To decide which duties are essential and which are non-essential, think about:

  • Could the task be given to another employee/employer?
  • How much time do the patient need to spend doing the task?
  • How does the task affect getting the job done?
  • Do the tasks exist to get the job done?
  • How does finishing this task affect the performance of other employees?
  • Is your job highly specialized?
  • If the patient is unable to do the tasks, what will happen?
  • Which tasks does the employer think are essential?

A systematic way to assess essential and non-essential jobs is to complete the task analysis worksheet.

Complete a task analysis worksheet

(Adapted from the Job Analysis Tool in the BC Cancer Agency’s handbook Cancer and Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients.)1

Understanding the tasks required in the patient’s job and then comparing these duties to the patient’s work functioning is part of assessing their ability to return to work and recommending any needed accommodations. We provide a helpful tool, the Cancer and Work Task Analysis Worksheet, which the healthcare provider and patient can work through together. This tool can be used to analyze tasks for a job to which the patient is returning or a different job offered by the employee as an accommodation.