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How to spot the creep

Posted on 14/04/2022 by Tracey George MIRP

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​In this blog I share some top tips on how to spot and remove job creep, which may be a significant barrier to being able to attract the ideal candidate for your role.

So what is ‘Job Creep’? According to Wikipedia, 'Job Creep is a phenomenon in which employers continually require increasing amounts of work relative to the normal requirements of their operations.’

Or as defined by IGI Global ‘A slow expansion of job duties with regards to discretionary job-related behaviours becoming a part of in-role obligations.’

This phenomenon can occur for various reasons and through differing circumstances, but I will illustrate just a few below:

An employee, who has been in a role for a long time, has taken on additional tasks and responsibilities. They have widened the scope of the role through personal interest and helped out other departments and teams.

This could also happen through covering for departed staff, involvement with new projects, being delegated work by other departments or managers. Before you know it, the role as you knew it, is no more and has morphed into something quite different from the original role or job description.

So, if we know it happens, how can we be more aware of job creep when we are recruiting? If you opt to go to market with the ‘morphed role’ it is quite likely that your recruitment campaign will be unsuccessful. More worryingly, you will be limiting the pool of talent you will attract for the position due to unrealistic expectations based on the current post holder.

So, what steps can you take to eliminating the creep?

Applying basic role design principles will be a great place to start, you can find out more about this in our role design blog.

However, these basic points will get you thinking about possible next steps:

  • Consider how long someone has been in the post

  • Ask the current post holder to summarise their current duties, responsibilities, and the skills they apply or have developed whilst in the role – compare this with the original job description

  • Consider what skills and experience the current post holder had when they first started in the role

  • Consider whether they have taken on additional tasks due to cover, increased workload or demand for that function, project involvement or incorporated areas of personal interest into the role

  • Do a skills gap analysis of the wider team or function to identify any missing gaps that could be critical to include in the role

  • Speak to your recruiter or network about the current market and availability of candidates within that specialism as this will help shape the best approach

  • Consider whether aspects of the existing role could be assigned to other functions within the organisation

  • Consider whether the role could be split, job shared, part-time, more or less senior or a role that could accommodate hiring someone with potential to learn and develop rather than previous experience in all or most elements

At TPP we advise our clients to take the best possible approach to attract suitable candidates for their positions, as well as designing roles that will open up more diverse talent pools. If you would like to find out more about role design, job creep or any other aspect of recruitment, we have specialist consultants with current market knowledge who are ready to help and support you. You can reach us on 020 7198 6000 or info@tpp.co.uk.