Employee retention has always been an important aspect of a business’ success and a true indicator of the health of their people function. In the current climate, a time where concepts such as The Great Resignation are floating around, the labour market is incredibly competitive presenting greater difficulties in retaining your key staff. Job rotations and secondments are a great way to combat these new difficulties but the benefits extend far beyond just employee retention.
What is a job rotation or secondment?
Job rotations are a program that can be implemented to move staff, temporarily or permanently, through different roles within an organisation. Job rotations, also commonly known as secondments, are typically a lateral move where employees are moved to a role equal to their previous role with the intention of them developing a wider range of skills and expertise. Job rotations can be sporadic in nature and length, or they can be implemented in line with a structured program.
What are the key benefits of job rotations and secondments?
Skill development – providing exposure to different roles, departments and teams will enable your existing staff to flex a skillset that they may not be able to in their primary role. This may include tangible skills such as learning a new process but can also include intangible skills achieved through working with a different group of people.
Increased innovation & holistic knowledge – providing employees with exposure to other areas of the business will broaden their holistic knowledge of a process or company operations. This can encourage employees to think outside their own primary responsibilities and look for solutions that have greater, broader business impact. Job rotations can also bring fresh perspectives to old processes and motivate individuals to make improvements and deal with new challenges.
Identification of hidden skills and development opportunities – job rotations may open up alternative pathways for employees that have not previously been considered. Employees and managers may identify particular hidden skills or aptitudes that they were previously not aware of which can help align individuals to their best career pathway and can help organisations make sure they have the right people in the right seats.
Greater flexibility – organisations who have staff with exposure to a diverse range of skills and experience are more likely to be able to adapt to unplanned internal and external changes. Job rotations can provide organisations with greater flexibility during business fluctuations (utilising team members across departments at peak times) and also can limit the disruption caused by employee turnover (by having institutional knowledge spread across the broader team).
Combating fatigue – job rotations can provide a change in environment for individuals who may be in roles that are mentally and physically demanding. A rotational strategy can help break the mental and physical fatigue cycle instead of more common alternatives being role turnover or illness/injury.
Retention & engagement – all of the above benefits combine to create a more engaged workforce who are committed to their long-term career pathway within an organisation. Employees who may be feeling stagnant within their role can be encouraged to participate in an internal job rotation instead of looking externally.
Job rotation programs can present a number of obstacles and can be met with business hesitancy. Here are some common obstacles and tips to overcome them.
Potential loss of specialised skills – job rotations are not going to be an option for all roles and may not be as favourable for highly specialised roles that require a significant amount of training or expertise. In saying this, there are instances where job rotations can have long-term benefits. Job rotations can be greatly beneficial for highly specialist roles that you may be wanting to progress into more senior managerial or leadership positions where in their existing position they may not be able to develop the required skills. With a long-term view, job rotations can be incredibly beneficial however it is important that you prioritise and select roles/teams where there is going to be genuine benefit.
Decreased productivity – naturally there will be a decrease in productivity by moving team members into new roles or areas of the business. This is why a well crafted job rotation program is important. As will be outlined shortly, your job rotation program should include extensive training, mentoring and induction processes to ensure that the transition between roles is seamless with minimum impacts on productivity.
People hesitancy – not all employees will be excited by diversifying their skillset and partaking in a job rotation program. Forcing individuals into the program can be counter-productive so the introduction of a program needs to be heavily consultative with the individual. Remember that some employees are engaged and motivated in roles with less variety and can continue to add just as much value to an organisation in their primary role.
Program Implementation & Tips
The key to the success of your job rotation program is your planning. Don’t aimlessly move individuals through the business, take the time to develop a well thought out program to ensure that you are combating any of the potential aforementioned obstacles.
- Review your business goals & link your plan to your overall business objectives. Ask yourself… Do you have growth plans? What are going to be key roles into the future that will impact your success? Can we build that skill set internally?
- Design your program. Based on your business requirements, identify what roles would best benefit from job rotations. Develop strong and comprehensive training and induction processes to aid in transitions. Adopting e-learning software can assist in streamlining your training needs. Consider the implementation of a policy, particularly in instances where you may be limiting the program to only portions of the workforce and/or asking team members to apply.
- Consult with employees. Avoid picking individuals without consultation. Try to genuinely understand their personal career aspirations and use these to craft job rotation opportunities.
- Review. Always collect feedback from the program participants to ensure that you are continuously improving your program for future employees.
- If you have any employees that are unsure whether they want to partake in the program or are unsure of the benefits, consider job shadowing or mentoring with other key personnel.
- Ensure that your plan is heavily aligned with your company goals and strategy. You can tactically build your job rotation program to closely align to your succession plan.
- Have a clear goal, process, and timeframe to reduce any ambiguity, disruption, or confusion.
- Try as best you can to align job rotations with business needs and personal career aspirations.
- Choose your timing based on your business cycle. You may be able to reduce disruption by rotating staff through departments during a slow period of operations.
Your job rotation program is heavily specific to your organisation and you should closely align this to your future business goals and objectives. Your job rotation program can form part of your workforce plan or succession plan. When implemented well, job rotations can be incredibly impactful to business success.
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About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.