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4 Thumb Rules to Implement A Successful Job Rotation Strategy

Some employees can be hard to hold onto; particularly millennials. They always seem to want more from the job – more opportunities to grow and advance their career graph. Similar could be the case with tenured employees.

Putting together a job rotation strategy could help in more than one way. Employees don’t always have to change companies to get the career development they want. Not only job rotation helps you retain talent, but can also help promote a more flexible and motivated workforce.

Let’s look at some instances where job rotation can be a great strategy to deploy.

Building an informed workforce:

In some businesses, the key idea is to keep employees up to date with the company operations. Being informed empowers the employee to think outside their roles. It fosters a collaborative work environment too.

Gearing up for the future:

In larger companies, managers are rotated across departments to help them get familiar with various sections of the business. It enables them to apply this knowledge to their current role and when someone quits from a senior position, for example, more than one candidate can fill the slot as they will be familiar with the duties of the particular job role.

Cross-functional training:

Small and midsize organisations, by necessity, often temporarily rotate employees between jobs. Having fewer employees means there’s not much back-up if someone in a key role is absent. And important work cannot be left undone if someone is away, absent or quits. Cross-training employees to fit more than one role, builds skills flexibility so the organisation’s business isn’t disrupted.

As an assessment tool:

Job rotation can also be used at a junior/trainee level to help the company understand whether the employee can perform in an ideal manner. Based on this he or she can be assigned a particular posting.

There could be several other instances where you could adopt job rotation. However, if you do it wrong, the results could be disastrous. Your business could take a hit. Because employees are learning new skills, there could be errors. If operations don’t run smoothly, your bottom line could suffer. You need to first consider how ad why job rotation could help your business. You don’t want to be in a situation where the job rotation strategy leads to slowed down operations, confused employees, and angry customers in the process.

So if you want to put together a successful job rotation programme in your company, here are four best practices that you must keep in mind:

1. Focus on the internal positioning of job rotation:

Job rotation strategies fail because they do have a goal or pre-defined objective that they are set out to achieve. When the objective is not clear, the employee is unable to view job rotation in a positive light.

Does your company need a leadership plan? Is your company on a tight budget? Are you looking to expand and diversify the business? Whatever your reasons to turn towards job rotation, always make sure you have an objective and this objective is communicated to the employees.

When job rotation is driven by a purpose, you will find it easy to position it right and address any insecurity that may arise. It helps you ensure that employees buy into the idea. It enables you to position job rotation as an important aspect of their career enhancement plan. After all, not all employees will be comfortable with the idea of having to acquire new skills and be judged for it.

Orienting the team is also very important. Employees need to understand what their roles are during the job rotation; they need to know what they’re responsible for and when and how to do it. It is necessary to give employees time to learn a task and let it sink in.

Thumb rule one is to ensure that you have clarity on what you want to achieve at the end of the job rotation programme and make sure it is time bound.

2. Make it a part of your employee engagement strategy:

Developing a diverse workforce with high potential employees is a vital part of any company’s retention plans. Management that is committed to the organisation’s growth is now considering talent rotation programmes to identify promising candidates for promotion and give them the experience they need in advance.

We all know that employee engagement is not only about fun and games in the workplace. It is a far larger portfolio that includes developing strategies to decrease attrition, increase retention and improve productivity.

While job rotation cannot be the only strategy in an employee engagement programme, it is an important part of career enhancement and is highly under-used. If structured well, it could become a sought-after learning and development initiative within the company. It can effectively leverage cross-cultural competence which is a key factor for retention. Job rotation can be a very effective tool to enable employees to continually evolve as effective leaders who can grow their careers and add value to the business.

Thumb rule two is to ensure that you adopt job rotation as a talent development strategy and make sure it ties in with your talent pipeline.

3. Aim to build business expertise instead of role specialists:

The requirement for today’s ever-changing work environment is to have employees who can function in multiple roles. Therefore, an effective HR strategy for a company is to build cross-functional teams or have people that are skilled to perform more than one task in the company successfully. Job rotation will help all-round grooming of the employee and optimise the resources.

When an employee is exposed to multiple roles he or she will be in a better position to adapt to company decisions and make informed choices on how to add value. This will help the company attain its goals faster in a hassle-free manner. This will also lead to improved productivity and foster a more collaborative work environment. For example, when an HR lead has a good understanding of the business, he/she is able to contribute far more just textbook knowledge and delivery an ROI on almost every aspect of Human Resources.

A downside is that productivity could drop temporarily as workers learn new jobs, make mistakes and possibly fail some assignments. Perhaps workload will increase for those who don’t rotate. A very real possibility is that managers may be reluctant to include their most productive employees.

Thumb rule three is to make sure that the strategy is carefully charted out to build business expertise among the employees who are in the lead roles to enhance business performance rather than individual performance.

4. Plan to measure the effectiveness of the job rotation programme:

Finally, how do you measure the desired outcome? When the goal and purpose of the job rotation exercise are made clear to employees, it is also important to evaluate the exercise. Even before you implement the programme define criteria to evaluate the results.

Some criteria could be assessing what skills has the rotated employee learned? How has the rotated employee used best practices from previous positions? How has the team learned from the employee? You’ll likely want to collect regular feedback from the rotated employee, their manager and colleagues.

I would recommend there should be a pre-programme benchmark, check-in milestones along the way can allow you to ensure that progress is being made against the goals and employees are seeing the benefits of participation; and then a post-programme evaluation. Gauge at the value-added skill that the employee has gained after spending time doing a different role.

Thumb rule 4 is to plan to measure effectiveness and have clarity on how you will know that the objective is achieved.

Job rotation is not a panacea for retaining talent but is a very solid one. On its own, it may seem like a limited measure, but it is a very effective programme to follow as part of employee engagement and career advancement. It is definitely useful to pitch it as an attractive proposition for employees to develop skills, help them make lateral transitions, and advance their careers.

Although implementing a job rotation program may be complex, such programmes offer tremendous benefits for employees and organisations alike. It can be stressful for some people, while some employees may take to it like a fish to water. Therefore, the key is to make sure that employees benefit from this. Lastly, it has to be effectively implemented in the company on a consistent basis. And importantly, employees need time to perform before being judged.

Wondering how to introduce job rotation in your organisation? Yellow Spark can help, write to us and schedule a spark meet – contact@yellowspark.in

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.

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4 Thumb Rules to Implement A Successful Job Rotation Strategy
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Published on:  June 3, 2019