October 1, 2014
Here are some practical recommendations you should think about when considering a job rotation program at your organization.
- Proactively manage job rotation as a component of your training and career-development system. Job rotation may be especially valuable for organizations that require firm-specific skills because it provides an incentive to organizations to promote from within.
- Have a clear understanding of exactly which skills will be enhanced by placing an employee into the job-rotation process. Address skills that aren't enhanced by job rotation through specific training programs and management coaching.
- Use job rotation for employees in nonexempt jobs, as well as for those in professional and managerial jobs. Job rotation may be of great value for developing employees in all types of jobs.
- Use job rotation with later-career and plateaued employees, as well as with early-career employees. Some organizations may have the tendency to rotate employees too fast in early-career stages and too slow in later-career stages. Job rotation can be a good way to reduce the effects of the plateauing process by adding stimulation to employees' work.
- You can use job rotation as a means of career development without necessarily granting promotions-so it may be especially useful for downsized organizations because it provides opportunities to develop and motivate employees.
- Give special attention to the job rotation plans for female and minority employees. Recent federal equal employment opportunity legislation has recognized the importance of job rotation to promotional opportunities when examining the limited representation of minorities and females in executive jobs (called the "glass ceiling" effect). Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 has ordered a commission to study the barriers and opportunities to executive advancement, specifically including job-rotation programs.
- Link rotation with the career development planning process so that employees know the developmental needs addressed by each job assignment. Both job-related and development-related objectives should be defined jointly by the employee and the manager when the employee assumes a new position. The rate of rotation should be managed according to the time required to accomplish the goals of the job and the time required to achieve the developmental benefits of the job. The advantage of this approach is that both the employee and the manager will have a clear understanding of expectations and the required tenure on the job will be related to predetermined outcomes. Job rotation should be perceived as voluntary from the employee's point of view if it's going to have the intended developmental effects.
- Implement specific methods of maximizing benefits and minimizing costs of rotation. Examples include increasing the benefits of organizational integration and stimulating work by carefully selecting jobs, increasing career and awareness benefits by ensuring that they're reflected in the development plans, decreasing workload costs by managing the timing of rotations, decreasing learning-curve costs by having good operating procedures, and decreasing the dissatisfaction of co-workers by helping them understand the role of job rotation in their own development plans.
Personnel Journal, November 1996, Vol. 75, No. 11, p. 36.