Have you considered using job rotation for your business but don’t fully understand it or know where to start? Have you already tried implementing it but didn’t see the results you wanted?

After reading this article, you will understand what job rotation is, how it can affect a company and employees, and learn several best practices for implementing it successfully.


What is job rotation?

Job rotation is a practice of regularly transitioning all employees between different jobs to ensure they gain exposure to various departments of the company while learning and improving their skill sets.

Job rotation can also be used to break up monotonous work.

Job rotation encourages employee flexibility, lower turnover rates, and help alleviate stress for employees who work in manual labor roles. A rotating job work environment can also boost new ideas and perspectives on the company’s work and may increase job satisfaction.

For example:

  • A nurse may shift between maternity and geriatric ward positions, giving the nurse exposure to various issues and experience in caring for a wide range of patients.
  • A marketing employee could be moved to sales for a short period of time to understand customers’ needs better and learn sales processes in the company.
  • A manufacturing employee may be transferred between positions to relieve the physical stress required by certain positions.

The advantages and benefits of job rotation

Many companies are opting into job rotation programs to better serve the company and employees.

1. Increased employee experience

Rotating between positions will help employees gain knowledge in several different areas in the company. This knowledge can help employees connect ideas about the company across different roles.

As stated in the example above, a marketing employee could gain experience in the sales department to perform better in their current position.

2. Increased employee motivation and satisfaction

Research about The Influence of Job Rotation Practices on Employee Motivation revealed that job rotation has a significant relationship with employee motivation. Employees who can rotate roles and develop their skills, talents, and competencies are more motivated at their jobs, leading to improved job performance and overall higher motivation.

Research has found a significant relationship between employee motivation and performance. There are many types of motivation, and job rotation creates a sense of drive that helps employees achieve their goals and therefore helps the company perform better.

By increasing employee motivation, employee job satisfaction will also increase. Employees dissatisfied with their jobs are demotivated, disgruntled, and irritable, which reduces productivity. Allowing workers to rotate jobs will help them understand their strengths and limitations. Employees can also rotate between roles that maximize their performance capability, increasing their feeling of value and relevance within the company.

3. Lower Resignation Rates

Recent research shows an overall positive response to job rotation in relevance to job security.

Of the employees questioned, 92% felt job variety increases employee value to the organization, and 85.7% feel that job rotation resulted in positive attitudes towards work and enhanced career development.

Furthermore, 74.1% of the employees indicated that job variety increases their chances of promotion, 68.9% believed that job rotation offers greater rewards, and 62.4% indicated that the new skills obtained from job rotation improve job safety.

Job rotation can prevent burnout, boredom, monotonous positions, and low engagement, which can help to reduce the chances of employees leaving the company.

4. More flexible workforce

If employees are trained in multiple positions, the workforce available will be more flexible.

If an employee does leave, job rotation provides opportunities for employees to learn many different roles, and it’s likely that someone will be available to fill a position quickly.

5. Enhanced employee engagement

Gallup’s 2021 State of the Global Workplace study shows that just 15% of workers are engaged. This suggests that the bulk of the world’s workforce either has a negative attitude about their employment or is merely doing the bare minimum to get through the day.

Employees can get disconnected from their work overtime, so job rotation can help engage staff and reduce boredom.

By varying tasks and job roles, job rotation programs can help break up an employee’s monotonous routine and prevent burnout.

6. Better job placement

Companies should strive to place employees in the most optimal position possible for the best output.

By rotating employees into different positions, managers can gain better insight into their skills, what job they perform the best in, and how they can benefit the company.

7. Planning for succession

Job rotation allows companies to create a pool of experienced people who can quickly replace an employee who retires or departs the company.

Succession planning is an essential factor for businesses to continue running efficiently in the event that an emergency replacement is needed.

Disadvantages of job rotation

Job rotation is not a perfect solution, and there are times when job rotation practices have disadvantages.

Businesses should be aware of the few disadvantages to mitigate risks to the program.

1. Monetary and time cost

Constantly shuffling employees around to different positions will mean that employees need to be trained more often than usual.

The time spent training an employee with each new job position will likely impact productivity and therefore impact company profits.

Also, because workers are frequently going into new positions, job rotation may generate frequent work interruptions while the employee is learning the new position.

2. Dissatisfied employees

Moving positions can be uncomfortable for some employees, especially if they have been in their position for a while or if they feel that someone taking over their current role will disrupt the job processes.

Moving an employee out of a position they enjoy may also lead to dissatisfaction, lack of motivation, or even leaving the company altogether.

3. Inadequate opportunities for advancement

Moving between positions does not mean getting a promotion. Instead, employees will move between roles at the same level.

Employees may see this as an obstacle in their career path if they want to advance to higher levels in a company.

Job rotation examples

Several companies are taking advantage of the benefits that job rotation practices offer.

Abbot – Medical Device Company

Abbott employees have the opportunity to rotate jobs in six focus areas:

  • clinical
  • finance
  • information technology
  • operations

Those chosen for Abbot’s program commit to a two- to three-year assignment in which they rotate between various tasks, disciplines, and office locations around the nation.

This gives new graduates the ability to experience several roles in a short period of time, allowing them to investigate their own interests and preferences.

Siemens – Automation and Manufacturing Company

Siemens Nederland implemented a job rotation program in 2005 for all divisions and functional levels of positions for every age group.

A stipulation in the employees’ contracts limits their time in one job. Workers must periodically assess their preferences and needs.

According to Siemens HR director, job rotation is important at all stages of a career, but it is particularly important for older people to avoid being pre-selected for less difficult tasks until retirement.

Emerson – Manufacturing Company

Emerson’s Engineers in Leadership Program offers a two-year rotating program with two postings, one local and one international, to train employees in different areas of the company.

Those chosen for the program receive the training, guidance, and connections to help them further develop their careers.

Job Rotation for Nurses

Nurses can engage in job rotation by switching departments and performing different functions while caring for a variety of patients.

According to a 2020 study, job rotation has been shown to inspire nurses to perform better, further develop their knowledge and skills, and improve clinic patient care by sharing knowledge with nurses in multiple departments.

Nurses state that job rotation helps them gain new skills, broaden their perspective, and alleviate job stress.

Job rotation best practices

As discussed earlier, job rotation can present challenges. However, with careful planning, job rotation can be implemented successfully and benefit both employers and employees.

Here are some critical aspects to consider when implementing job rotation practices:

1. Have a clear goal and time frame

The goal of job rotation should be defined from the start.

Inefficient job rotation causes role confusion and disrupts work. It can also cause employee frustration when they are moved around with seemingly no purpose.

2. Prepare and train employees before rotation

Ensure individuals are adequately prepared before rotating them. Lack of knowledge and abilities will reduce motivation and increase the time required to reach optimum productivity.

Companies can make the transition between roles easier by providing eLearning materials related to the role before the rotation.

Another option is to assign a mentor during the process, which is somebody an employee can rely on to answer questions and provide education about the role.

3. Create a plan and document processes

Create a plan for each role that would be involved in job rotation.

Specify focus areas, skills, and knowledge employees should focus on.

Providing written documentation of each position can also provide employees with a resource for training.

Planning ahead and documenting processes also helps to minimize risks of inefficiency prepare employees for uncommon scenarios that are involved in each role.

4. Plan job rotation during a low season

If your business depends on seasonal work, it is best to plan job rotation in a period of low activity.

By doing so, your employees won’t be overwhelmed with the tasks and activities, and therefore, the business won’t suffer from productivity losses and unexpected issues.

5. Align job rotation with employees’ career paths

Try to implement job rotation with an employee’s career objectives in mind.

By planning out a series of jobs the employee can rotate to, the job rotation program can keep employees in line with their desired career path and prepare them for future changes or promotions.

6. Create measurable objectives and goals

There should be specific objectives for each job within the rotation program. This ensures that managers can measure employee success as well as let employees experience the benefits for themselves.

In addition, this helps the employees understand their role and encourages them to become more independent while learning each new position.

7. Collect feedback from all parties involved

Constructive feedback is an essential part of any development program.

Encourage people to give feedback about all the aspects of job rotation. This will help you improve the rotation process, as well as find gaps in your business processes.

Also, managers should monitor employees success in the role and provide feedback regularly, so they can use it for their development and career advancement.