With a new generation taking over the U.S. workforce, new opportunities and challenges have developed which companies are being forced to deal with in today's current business climate. One of these challenges is keeping workers engaged in their daily work which decreases the risks of employees jumping ship for other employment opportunities.
Attracting and retaining high-quality talent is the name of the game in 2019, and a trend that will only continue moving forward. One study found a mere 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs. One workforce strategy looks to meet the challenge of employee engagement, job rotation programs. Let's talk more about exactly what job rotation programs are, their benefits, and also challenges with this employee engagement strategy.
What is a job rotation program?
The Society for Human Resource Management defines job rotation as, “a policy enabling staff members to develop knowledge, new skills and a broader understanding of organizational operations and programs to utilize staff more effectively.” A job rotation program moves staff among various positions to grow skills and expand overall knowledge about the different operations within the business. For example, an employee participating in a job rotation program would cycle through three different positions, with each rotation lasting around six to twelve months. This gives ample time for the employee to learn the new role and develop the knowledge/skills to perform the job effectively. The end result is a well-rounded employee who acts as a Swiss army knife, able to fill in for many different roles and become a true asset to the organization.
What are the benefits?
Job rotation programs are all about engaging and growing your workforce, but it can also be a great resource for increasing employee motivation. When employees work at a company that encourages developing new skills and provides new opportunities to grow, they are gifted back with employees who are motivated to work. This motivation also helps with retention, as employees who are motivated are less likely to switch jobs. An organizational culture filled with motivated employees is a positive environment that attracts top talent which turns into a win for both employees and the overall business.
"Jack of all trades"
When employees are cycled through different departments and/or positions, they become more well-rounded and possess a more diversified skill set. Having employees who can jump into multiple roles is a great asset for any organization. It not only benefits the employee but the entire organization when employees are well trained in different areas of the business. Well-rounded employees are an asset that can improve operational performance
This is a no-brainer when an employee is involved in a job rotation program the risk of boredom decreases dramatically. Employees are engaged and focused on learning new skills and developing new knowledge which decreases workplace boredom. Workplace boredom is an enemy of employee engagement and actually decreases operational performance as employees who are bored are not going to put forth maximum effort in their daily tasks. Job rotation helps alleviate this boredom by keeping employees engaged and challenged through learning new roles.
Decreases ergonomic-related injuries
For certain industries (e.g. manufacturing) routine and mundane job activities can increase the risk of ergonomic-related injuries in the workplace. A decade long OSHA study found an estimated $1 of every $3 spent on workers' compensation costs stemmed from ergonomic issues, with estimated annual costs totaling $54 billion. A job rotation program can help lower these costs for an organization, allowing the business to take these cost savings and invest back into the business.
A major benefit of a job rotation program is the benefit of built-in succession planning. When you have employees who can cover a number of different positions it lowers the risk of business disruptions if an employee leaves the company. Another employee who is knowledgeable and skilled in the newly vacated position can easily fill in and help the company continue on the journey of meeting its objectives.
What are the challenges?
A Robert Half Management Resources survey found 56% of CFOs surveyed said they had not put into practice a formal job rotation program. The main reasoning being the logistical challenges of moving employees around while trying not to disrupt critical workflows to ensure the company runs like a well-tuned clock.
Not a Fix All Solution
If employee engagement is a major issue at a company, a job rotation program may not solve all of their woes. For example, if employee engagement is rooted in another issue, such as organizational culture, then a job rotation program may not be the best strategy to improve overall engagement. The opposite actually might occur which could disengage employees and cause further organizational friction leadership must address in order for the business to run efficiently moving forward.
Increase in Errors
This is a major challenge and one that can pose a great risk to an organization. Anytime you have employees working new positions within the company, the risk for human errors increases. Depending on the industry this can lead to errors that lead to injuries or cause adverse impact to the financial well -being of the company. For example, a worker on an assembly line using new mechanical equipment has a higher risk of injury or a financial analyst working in a new department could create financial errors which negatively impact the company. Management must always weigh the risks of a job rotation program and put in place needed controls to ensure job rotation risks are mitigated properly.
Job rotation programs can be an excellent strategy to help with employee engagement within any organization. Companies that actively play a role in developing their staff will reap the rewards for years to come. A job rotation program provides an excellent platform to develop and grow the assets which are the lifeblood of any organization, its employees. Richard Branson said it best, "If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients."