Job rotation is a technique used by some employers to rotate their employees' assigned jobs throughout their employment. Employers practice this technique for a number of reasons. It was designed to promote flexibility of employees and to keep employees interested into staying with the company/organization which employs them. There is also research that shows how job rotations help relieve the stress of employees who work in a job that requires manual labor.
What are the objectives?
- Employee Learning
- Rotation making employees more versatile
- Gives employees a broader understanding of the business allowing them to be better prepared to be promoted to management.
- Employer Learning
- Using job rotation employers can learn their individual worker's strengths
- Employers receive a flexible and knowledgeable workforce that can be sourced throughout the company or agency.
- Employee Motivation
- Rotation reduces boredom
- More knowledge of the company as a whole may lead to more promotions.
Along with the company providing the opportunities and training for job rotation, the employees who participate in job rotation learn more than the one job specification deemed to them, benefiting them in the long run in case of an open position on moving up in the company or a position opening up in another firm. Along with employees benefiting, companies benefit as well. The business can hire fewer people since the majority of their staff will be able to be versatile in the job functions that the company may demand, saving the company more money and possibly giving the current employees a better salary.
Job rotation is beneficial to the company in terms of productivity and reducing the leave of absence workers take throughout the year. A study was conducted to see what motivates employees in their job performance. Job security was among the least motivators. Employees wanted a sense of responsibility and pride in their tasks performed. Job rotation was created for small crews to see if the company could produce a greater employee satisfaction, desire to become comfortable in their job functions, and decrease the desire to avoid their overtime duty.
Why is job rotation beneficial?
Some employees are paid more for they are presenting that they are worth a greater amount since they can perform more than one job function and thus makes a higher incentive for more employees to be able to perform better in the workplace. It is a common perception to see that employees who normally opt into the program of job rotation that these individuals tend to have "higher perceived skills" and are more likely to be promoted.
Sometimes job rotation is practiced for the individual worker's health benefit. This practice helps rotates the individual tasks and muscle movements. It reduces the stress of an average workday so that the workers do not feel the tension in their muscles as well as can keep up in their demanding workplace. There has been electromyographic studies on this technique from mining to assembly lines.
Job rotation in action
Semco is a Brazilian firm known for implementing job rotation in order to discourage key people from keeping trade secrets which might get lost should they leave, and because it forces the company to develop more than one expert in any particular field.
Toyo Kogyo Company
Toyo Kogyo Company is the Japanese firm that now produces Mazda automobiles. Toyo Kogyo has been practicing job rotation for over 20 years as a direct result of the oil embargo of the 1960s. Toyo looked to job rotation to fill gaps in experience due to the cutbacks needed during a downturn in the economy. This has resulted in company with a very efficient workforce that is more knowledgeable that their more specialized competitors.
Intel Corporation now uses job rotation as a means to fill temporary positions from within their own organization. In 11 months Intel filled about 1300 jobs lasting from weeks to years. These positions were available in various fields such as HR, Marketing, Finance and Product development. These assignments are meant to rein in restless workers as well as giving opportunities to employees to learn new technologies and strategies that they may not have been familiar with before. Many employees who experience this form of job rotation are given looks into fields that may be foreign letting them have a greater understanding of the company as a whole.
Virgin America has experimented with a one-year employee exchange program with Virgin Australia. The two companies traded flight attendants between each other to create excitement and energy among its employees. While trades are not as beneficial as job rotation among skill employees the short term benefits may help customer service and the general mood of the employees working for the airline.
Job rotation may also be used to alleviate the physical and mental stresses endured by employees when working at the same position, year after year. By allowing employees to rotate to other positions, the risk factors for some types of musculoskeletal disorders may be reduced. Job Rotation is also believed to have the ability to decrease the amount of boredom and monotony experienced by employees who work the same position for extended periods of time. Job rotation caters to the employee's preferences in a variety of tasks, letting them be more flexible in their positions while endowing workers with a wide range of skills. This also allows the worker job security by developing multiple skills instead of specializing in one aspect. In times of urgency or emergency employees in job rotation are prepared to deal with unusual operations other more specialized workers may not be able to.
There are some negative attributes associated with job rotation. Firstly, some positions within a company may not be eligible for rotation. There may be positions within a company that may be specialized due to technology or may require highly skilled workers. These positions may not fit the profile for rotation opportunities because of the costs involved to train the workers. Another problem faced by companies is that some employ unionized workers that may be resistant to job rotation due to standard union practices.
Employers are able to evaluate employees not only for their output but also for their personality traits and team work skills. "Output measures may easily be translated into attributes such as leadership abilities, technical competence, relations with others and judgement." Job rotation benefits the private sector by allowing workers to become flexible in skills needed throughout the company not just in one section or division, this allows companies to benefit through lower costs of needing to train new employees to do the same job. There are different reasons a company may choose to use job rotation such as using job rotation as a learning mechanism. Research suggests that there are significant benefits that may out weigh the costs involved with training employees for diversified positions. This employment opportunity has an effect of boosting morale and self efficacy. The company may benefit from using job rotation by having the ability to staff key positions within a company that are needed at the moment instead of having to train a specialist to fill an urgent position. This practice may allow a company to run more efficiently, and as a result, become more productive and profitable.
Cost of Job Rotation
The cost of job rotation can be directly linked to the productive gains made through specialization.
Theory determining the benefit to specialization-
"We will refer to the inputs as "jobs" that must be performed in order to produce the output. Suppose the firm employees two (initially) identical workers, each of whom is capable of performing both jobs. Thus in a two-period model, each worker could produce the same amount in the first period. By assuming the workers are identical in their intrinsic skills, we focus on the effect of the organization of work related skills. According to a well-known principle spelled out by Adam Smith, a specialized worker improves his or her skill over time by repetitively performing the same task. The gain from specializations thus arises in the second period if workers remain in the same job for both periods. In that case, we assume that the with the second period that his or her counterpart had produced in the first period.[clarification needed] To capture this we let Y1 denote the total output in the first period, and Y2, and Y2, denote the output in the second period under rotation and specialization respectively. When workers rotate jobs in the second period, Y2,= Y1; when the specialize and remain in the same job, Y2>Y1. Specialization thus yields greater output over the two periods by the amount Y2-Y2. This differential represents the cost of job rotation in terms of forgone output."
A problem faced by companies is the possibility of having to pay incentives to workers for cooperation with the job rotation implementation which can lead towards inequality.The utilization of job rotation may have the effect of reducing a workforce due to the cross-training involved; a company may not be required to hire additional staff to cover positions and may cause a layoff of current employees no longer considered necessary.
Job rotation in the public sector can be used to create communication networks between agencies. This is a benefit for agencies this in times of interagency involvement, or times of emergency.
"Interagency assignments can promote networks among personnel from the host and home agencies. Job rotation programs can be designed with a formal component to encourage networking, or networks can be established informally through day-to-day interactions between the individual and his or her peers at the host agency."
"Depending on the assignment, an individual can build specific skills needed for interagency collaboration, such as how to plan, lead, and execute interagency efforts. Several experts contend that the best way to teach people to lead in a collaborative environment is to provide them with an opportunity to do so."
Drawbacks from Job Rotation in the public sector are often affected the most by lack of cooperation between the agencies involved. Each agency must come into the project fully or the project is likely to fail; making these projects often hard to create or manage. Uneven exchanged in workforce talent can occur when one agency sends skilled personnel to another agency only to receive lower skilled personnel in return. This not only affects the consistency of work coming out of the first agency, but also has the effect of making managers more apprehensible to the aspect of future programs. Employees in these situations oftentimes feel that their careers are put on hold the moment they participate in rotation. Employees feel their contributions at other agencies will not be valued as much by their home agency. Employees feel they will be looked over and miss future opportunities due to lack of recognition and difference in location.
"These programs are not easy to design and manage effectively, and can impose significant costs on the individuals and organizations involved. Cultural differences that exist among different agencies, funding streams, and authorities that flow toward a single agency rather than toward enterprise-level goals are additional factors that complicate agencies’ abilities to work together to design a win-win program."
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Some employees can be hard to hold onto. Why? Employees, particularly millennials, want more opportunities to learn, grow, and advance their careers. In fact, job development is so important that 87% of millennials want it.
Employees don’t always have to change companies to get the development they want. Implementing a job rotation strategy could help you retain talent.
What is job rotation?
Job rotation is a strategy where employees rotate between jobs at the same business. Employees take on new tasks at a different job for a period of time before rotating back to their original position.
With a job rotation system, employees gain experience and skills by taking on new responsibilities. Job rotations are meant to promote flexibility, employee engagement, and retention.
If you want your job rotation program to be successful, you need to do the following:
- Set goals: What do you hope to accomplish?
- Create the job rotation program design: Which employees will rotate to which positions?
- Analyze the program: How are employees (and your business) benefitting from this?
A job rotation program doesn’t mean employees are promoted, although promotions do happen. Employees typically move laterally from job to job.
Job rotation advantages and disadvantages
There are many reasons for job rotation programs in your small business. Before implementing one, weigh the advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of job rotation
Many employers choose to create a job rotation policy as a benefit to employees. But, employees aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program.
Consider these benefits of job rotation programs for both employees and employers.
1. Eliminates boredom
Only 32% of employees are actually engaged at their jobs. That means 68% of employees are doing the bare minimum, plugging away at their computers or robotically talking to customers. Disengaged employees can be lured away by promises of a better, more challenging job.
Giving employees new responsibilities won’t solve all your problems. But, it could help employees become engaged and prevent boredom. For the most part, employees becoming disengaged at their jobs is a gradual thing. By mixing up responsibilities, you could help break up the monotony of an employee’s day to day.
2. Encourages development
Having a job rotation strategy helps employees develop their skills. By learning more skills, employees will feel more valuable to your business.
Employees who work at a company that encourages their development might not feel the need to change jobs. Instead of leaving your business for a new job that helps an employee develop, they can rotate jobs.
3. Gives employees a break from strenuous job duties
Many industries that require heavy-duty labor use job rotation strategies. Overworked employees who are constantly doing manual labor benefit from getting a break. By rotating their jobs, you help offset the risk of fatigue.
For example, you could have a warehouse employee who lifts heavy packages for deliveries rotate to a job that handles the paperwork for shipping.
4. Helps you identify where employees work best
A job rotation strategy can point out an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. You might find that an employee can better handle a different job at your business. For the most effective business, you need to have all your employees in the right positions.
5. Gives you a backup plan if an employee leaves
Although employee turnover can be expensive, it doesn’t have to be devastating. By having a job rotation plan, you have multiple employees who know how to do each job.
If an employee leaves, you won’t need to scramble to hire the first person you see. Instead, you have other employees capable of covering the separated employee’s tasks. If you do need to hire a replacement, you can take your time to find the right fit.
Disadvantages of job rotation
Before implementing a job rotation program, consider the following disadvantages.
1. Can be costly and time consuming
When you move an employee into a new position, there is a learning curve. Employees might need training in order to do their new job. The cost of training employees can be thousands of dollars and take hours.
According to the Association for Talent Development, the average cost to train employees is $1,252, and the average time to train is 33.5 hours. Though you might not spend that much with a lateral shift, it is still something you need to consider.
2. Could end up with disgruntled employees
Some employees might not want to rotate jobs. An employee who is comfortable and successful in their current position may worry another employee would mess up their process.
You might have some employees who excel at their job but aren’t willing to learn new things. And, you could see employees who are stressed out at the prospect of changing their jobs.
3. It won’t fix all your problems
Job rotation programs aren’t guaranteed to increase employee engagement, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If your employees are disengaged at your business, it could be because of other factors.
Rotating an employee’s job won’t fix issues like lack of positive reinforcement and disconnect with company culture. Don’t use a job rotation program for the sole purpose of making employees happy before getting to the root of their problems first.
4. Might not be feasible for some industries
For some industries and positions, job rotation is not realistic. This is especially true in highly skilled positions where employees need years of training to do their jobs.
If you want to implement a job rotation program at your business, make sure that it is possible. Don’t waste effort on something that won’t work.
5. Your business could suffer
One of the most devastating disadvantages of job rotation is that your business could take a hit. Because employees are learning new skills, there could be some errors. Customers could become frustrated by confused employees who make mistakes. If operations don’t run smoothly, your bottom line could suffer.
You need to consider how job rotation could help your business. You don’t want slow operations, confused employees, and angry customers in the process.
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