Job rotation prevents boredom for an employee while increasing the worker's depth of organizational knowledge. Having multiple employees cross-trained in several areas allows the employer to continue smooth operations even in the face of unforeseen issues such as emergency medical leaves, dramatically increased workload and unanticipated resignations. To be effective, job-rotation programs must be implemented correctly in order to avoid potential pitfalls like an uneven and unfair distribution of work or disruption to previously high-performing teams.
Identify the operational divisions or the particular work groups that could benefit from a job-rotation program, such as an area where retirements are expected. Determine the specific knowledge and tasks that must be shared during the rotation.
Specify the employees who'll be allowed to participate in the program and any requirements for participating. For example, the employee must have been free of discipline for the past 12 months. Identify if employees will be allowed to select from company-wide rotation assignments or from those within a certain work group or division or if management will assign the rotations. Decide whether employees will be allowed to rotate through jobs at a higher level than their current classification.
Clarify if the program is an optional, voluntary program, such as something that employees must apply for, or if it'll be mandatory and imposed by the organization on a particular work group.
Write a formal job-rotation policy to clarify all the parameters of the program in a single reference document. Inform employees in clear, concise language about the expectations of the rotation program and the requirements that must be met. Obtain a signature from each employee before the commencement of the program, indicating they have read and understood the policy and will adhere to its guidelines.
Survey employees before the implementation of the rotation program, during the assignment and after each rotation has been completed. Ask employees which aspects of the program were particularly helpful and what changes could be made to improve the experience. Implement the suggestions in the next rotation, and repeat the survey to see if the changes resulted in overall improvement to the program.
Leave employees in the rotation long enough that they can learn the full responsibility of duties, but once the initial training has been completed, don't keep an employee out of the assignment for so long that he forgets how to perform the tasks.
Be careful when rotating a group of employees through a particularly stressful job, because instead of reducing the stress of a single coworker, this might have the unintended consequence of increasing the stress levels of the entire work group.
- Alaska Department of Administration: Knowledge Transfer in State of Alaska Agencies
- Washington State Department of Labor and Industries; Job Rotation System; Dan MacLeod and Eric Kennedy; 1993
- South Carolina E-Recruitment System: Health Services Administrative Policy and Procedure Manual
- bNET; Job Rotation, Total Rewards, Measuring Value; August 2008