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How do I implement a job rotation program in my company? 

Job  rotation is the systematic movement of employees from one job to another within an organization to achieve various human resources objectives. Formal job rotation programs offer customized assignments to promising employees to give them a view of the entire business and to round out their experience. Rotation programs can vary in size and formality, depending on the organization. The length of time in each job varies as well. While larger companies are more likely to invest in a formalized job rotation program, businesses of all sizes might want to consider implementing a job rotation program.

There are many reasons for implementing a job rotation system, including the potential for increased product quality, giving employees the opportunity to explore alternative career paths, creating a pool of staff who can fill in for temporary openings and perhaps most importantly, preventing stagnation and job boredom.

Sustaining employee interest in a single job is not easy, which is perhaps why retention poses such a big challenge for businesses – particularly those with repetitive or cyclical work. Employees outgrow their jobs quickly and it may not be possible for employers to provide enough diversity within a career path to maintain employee interest in the job.

This is where job rotation steps in to provide job enrichment from an employee's perspective. Employees who participate in job rotation programs develop a wide range of skills, are more adaptable to changes in jobs and career, and are generally more engaged and satisfied with their jobs when compared to workers who specialize in a single skill set or domain.

But there is a downside to job rotation programs that cannot be ignored. Job rotation may increase the workload and decrease productivity for the rotating employee and for other employees who must take up the slack. This may result in a disruption of work flow and a focus by line managers on short-term solutions to correct these problems. In addition, line managers may be reluctant to allow high-performing employees to participate in job rotation programs. Finally, there are costs associated with the learning curve on new jobs, including time spent learning, training costs and errors that employees often make while learning a new job.

Preparation is a key to the success of any job rotation program. The successful implementation of a job rotation program requires an understanding of why the program is being put into effect in the first place. Clearly identify what the desired objective is. Next it is important to identify the costs and benefits of implementation, as well as obtain agreement and a commitment to support the program from all parts of the organization, including senior management, human resources and line managers.

Effective Management

Tips for effectively managing a job rotation program include:

  • Formulate clear policies regarding who will be eligible for the program, whether employees will be restricted to certain jobs or will be open to all job classifications.
  • Determine how employees will be selected. Will the program be mandatory or will employees will be allowed to "opt-out?" Will opting out have an impact on their performance appraisal? For employees who do express a desire to opt out, it may be important to emphasize how rotation program impacts career development, so the employee clearly understands the benefits gained through a job rotation program.
  • Involve the employee and managers in planning specific job rotations so that there is a clear understanding of mutual expectations.
  • Have a clear understanding of exactly which skills will be enhanced by placing an employee into the job-rotation process. 
  • Use job rotation for employees in nonexempt jobs, as well as for those in professional and managerial jobs. 

By carefully analyzing feasibility, anticipating implementation issues, communicating with and ensuring the support of senior and line managers, and setting up realistic schedules for each position, both large and small organizations can derive value from a job rotation program.


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