Job rotations often fall in the ‘sounds good, but we don’t have time” category for most organizations. Most leaders believe that, in theory, the advantages outweigh the possible negative effects of workplace disruption. Yet, few organizations have an active job rotation strategy or plan. The feeling is that most teams are barely keeping their heads above water. They simply can’t lose any team members, nor can they take extra time to train a temporary outsider. This view is understandable, yet short-sighted. We prioritize what matters.
From job swapping to shadowing and rotations, here are some benefits that alternative job assignments can provide:
New perspective. The most obvious benefit of a job rotation is the new perspective that all parties acquire through the process. What seems easy from the outside is often more complex and nuanced from the inside. The things each party takes for granted may become more tangible and result in stronger respect across the board. New perspectives can also challenge old, established ways of working and result in advancing the organization forward.
New skills. A longer-term job rotation can mean everyone may acquire new skills they wouldn’t have acquired previously. The more well-rounded employee will become a greater asset to the organization, and likely more committed and engaged as well.
Better network. One of the biggest hurdles new employees face in a large organization is knowing who to contact for their specific needs. Theoretically, the longer the tenure of the employee, the better the network, but that doesn’t always happen. Frequently, individuals who participate in job rotations report back saying they were unaware of all the resources available in the organization.
Flexible staffing. When timed well, job rotations can be a great way to solve staffing challenges when employees are on extended leave. Why hire a temporary worker who may leave with all the knowledge they gained during their short contract when you can leverage an internal resource temporarily?
Career exploration. Job rotations are especially impactful for High Potentials and recent graduates who may be open to exploring a variety of career paths. Job rotations provide a valuable opportunity to test the waters in a new area without the risk of committing to a long-term role.
Increase engagement and retention. There’s a commonly held notion that “people don’t leave companies; they leave bad bosses.” And that may be true, but many people leave out of sheer boredom. For people with a high need for change, offering a job rotation may be a great way to keep them engaged while reducing the likelihood of turnover.