Job rotation involves moving employees around to different roles or functions within the organization, as opposed to having each employee focus on one distinct job for an extended period. This strategy typically works best in organizations with limited technical skill requirements from one job to the next, and with significant collaboration as part of the culture. Benefits include cross-training, thorough work coverage and employee morale, but lack of depth in skill development and the potential for injury are drawbacks.
Job Rotation Advantages
A primary benefit of job rotation is cross-training of employees. Workers learn the tasks required of each job they take on. When individuals know the expectations and functions of all the jobs around them in the workplace, it makes it easier for them to grasp the importance and challenges of coworkers.
Additional advantages include:
- Thorough work coverage - When employees are cross-trained in multiple roles, the company is more equipped to handle absences. On any given day, managers can identify important responsibilities that need coverage and place employees familiar with those responsibilities in the right positions. A job that is more customer-facing, for instance, may get prioritized over a back-office role that has greater flexibility in task completion.
- Higher employee morale - One of the most compelling human resources motivates for job rotation is better employee morale, according to HR consulting firm Cornerstone OnDemand. Employees often get bored or burnt out when performing the same duties day after day. Job rotation breaks up the monotony. Employees may feel a greater sense of pride and value to the organization when they understand multiple roles. Cross-training also can improve job security and ultimately help a worker find the most ideal job to stick with for a longer period.
- Reduced physical strain - In production or labor jobs, an additional benefit of job rotation is avoidance of excessive or repetitive use of the same muscle groups.
Job Rotation Disadvantages
Primary drawbacks of job rotation include:
- Lack of skill development - Rotating jobs too quickly or too often may prevent employees from developing strong skills in any one area. Being a jack of all trades, but a master of none, limits a worker's ability to increase productivity or performance in each given job function. When skills aren't developed, the employee also may miss out on opportunities for upward mobility within the company or department.
- Safety risks - Despite the notion of rotating use of muscle groups, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does have concerns about injury risks with job rotation. If rotations aren't strategically planned, employees may end up overusing muscles despite the change in tasks. Also, constantly switching use of equipment, tools and supplies can lead to accidents based on a lack of familiarity with safety procedures and proper usage.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.