6 Keys to Successful Job Rotation

Useful Job Rotation Provides Benefits to the Employee and Employer

Job rotation can help you cross train employees.
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Job rotation is a method used for employee development. Job rotation gives the employee the opportunity to develop skills in a variety of changing jobs. In job rotation, employees will make lateral moves the majority of the time, but job rotation can also involve receiving a ​promotion.

Job rotation is a key tool that employers can use when they want to help their employees further develop their skills and careers. (Career development is a critical component in attracting and retaining both millennials and Gen Z employees.)

Keys to Successful Job Rotation

Job rotation can take place happenstance or it can be carefully planned and executed with specific end results in mind. The employee who is involved in a carefully planned job rotation will benefit and learn. He or she will systematically build skills that enable the employee to contribute more effectively to the goals of your organization.

These are the six keys to a carefully planned, systematic, effective job rotation.

Job Rotation must start with an end goal in mind.

The goal of job rotation determines the job changes. Thus, if a department in which every employee is cross-trained to do every job is the goal, careful structuring of the rotation must occur. If the development of individual employees, ​for eventual promotion, to advance the employees' career options, to avoid job boredom, or to create backup help for vacation times, is the goal, the job rotation plans will differ. Effective job rotation specifies the goal to start.

Job rotation must be carefully planned.

An optimum training plan helps the employee build upon the skills learned at each step of job rotation. So, the plan involves the employee participating in a series of jobs on a path that other employees have followed that resulted in a fully trained employee, or the accomplishment of the goal. The effectiveness of your job rotation plan must be regularly evaluated so that the best job rotation plan is in place.

Employees must be able to assess whether the job rotation is achieving their goals.

Consequently, the steps in job rotation should be measurable and build upon each other. Only measurable goals at each job rotation will assist the employee to see that their employer cares about their career and their personal and professional development. This is a significant factor in whether you retain your employees.

Both the employee and the organization need to benefit from job rotation.

Constantly teaching employees new job skills is time-consuming and saps organizational energy. If the employee sees nothing in it for them, after they put forth the effort necessary to learn new jobs, job rotation won't work or motivate employees. 

Additional compensation is often provided as employees learn new or more difficult jobs in job rotation. Or, employees who are cross-trained to do more jobs are paid more because of the employer's increased flexibility that results from their learning.

A mentor, internal trainer, or supervisor/trainer is provided at each step of the job rotation plan.

As an employee moves to each new job, he or she is assigned to another employee who has the responsibility to teach, answer questions, and mentor during the training. This enables an organization to reinforce the training each step of the way. It also enables employers to make certain employees are well trained. This is because employees who are able to teach others most effectively incorporate the knowledge and skills themselves.

Written documentation, an employee manual, or online resource enhances employee learning.

Written documentation about various aspects of each job is helpful in job rotation to reduce the employee learning curve. This documentation can be developed by employees doing the job and thus, reinforces their own knowledge and systematizes the approaches.

Advantages of Job Rotation for Employees

Job rotation provides a career path for employees when ​promotions are not available, or when the employee does not want a promotion or management responsibilities. Job rotation provides advantages for an employee. In job rotation, the employee:

  • gains knowledge and skills by learning different jobs that require new skills and provide different responsibilities.
  • overcomes potential boredom and job dissatisfaction by having a new and different job with changed responsibilities and tasks.
  • is given a new challenge, an opportunity for the employee to expand his or her knowledge, accomplishments, reach, impact, and potentially, influence different aspects of the organization.
  • may learn about different facets of the organization and how work is accomplished in different departments or job functions. (This will build his or her organizational knowledge and ability to get things done.)
  • is prepared for an eventual promotion, in a succession plan, by receiving the chance to expand his or her skill set and responsibilities, and gain broader knowledge about the organization.
  • gains visibility with a new group of coworkers and managers. Visibility for a good employee brings potential opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Job rotation is viewed as desirable by employees because of the impact a lateral move or promotion has on the employee's opportunity for personal and professional growth and motivation. Job rotation is seen as a continuing commitment from the employer that enables employees to develop and grow in their employment and pursue a desirable career path.