CoAdvantage – There’s an uncomfortable tension at the heart of many employees’ jobs: studies show that repetition fuels productivity but erodes morale and retention, while variety leads to loyalty but can incur a productivity cost.
In other words, employee productivity increases as employees repeat the same work over and over, becoming highly specialized at their task(s). However, this repetition can become boring and increases employees’ risk of seeking new and different experiences elsewhere. Employers can counter that issue by offering more variety in the work that employees perform. This can also have the added benefit of cross-training employees in a wider array of skills, closing skill gaps, and making the workforce more versatile.
This is where the idea of job rotation comes in. At heart, job rotation is simply a formalized program of having employees rotate job roles on a regular basis. This can be done on a small scale, where employees only spend a fraction of their time in other roles; or it can be expansive, literally expecting employees to be able to perform multiple jobs for extended periods of time.
What are the benefits of rotating jobs?
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has found that job rotation can reduce stress and increase happiness among staff. It makes employees more interested in their work by keeping the brain active with new learning and skills development. That can help organizations to mitigate risks associated with loss of skills and skill shortages in the marketplace.
One big advantage is that job rotation also ensures the retention of institutional knowledge. If you have any tasks that are performed or overseen by only a single employee – think payroll at a small business – and that employee decides to leave, they can take all their knowledge of the function with them. By having other employees rotate into that role, the company can essentially perform a living “backup” of the relevant knowledge. Even if the payroll person suddenly disappears, the company can rest assured payroll will still go out on time.
Disadvantages of rotating jobs?
Employers can lose the increased productivity that results from specialization in a single area. Further, not all employees will be well-suited to changing roles regularly; and if they don’t enjoy a role or don’t want to move, it can damage the company’s relationship with that employee and undermine the benefits that come from job rotation.
Have a goal. Before you begin a job rotation program, understand why you’re doing it. Use that understanding to structure the program to best meet your goals.
Identify roles suitable for rotating. Not every job is well-suited for rotating employees. Some require such specialized and in-depth knowledge that it would be very difficult to have others rotate in-and-out. It’s not an either/or, however. You can still have people shadow jobs to at least understand them.
Identify and track metrics of success. Link these metrics directly back to your goals. If the program is designed to improve employee retention, does it work? If it’s designed as part of a leadership development program, does it result in more successful leaders? Track metrics that help you answer those questions and shed insight on future changes that can improve the programs.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.