With the increasing market competition, business organisations need more and more experienced employees capable of delivering better business outcomes. Experience can be measured by the exposure to different areas of the work, but not by the number of years during which an employee has been working. Hence, exposing employees to different aspects of the business is an important step in developing people. Job rotation plays a major role in this respect.
Job rotation is a job design technique in which employees are moved between two or more jobs in a planned manner. It involves an employee changing positions within the same organisation and eventually returning to the original position. The rotation can be done in different ways such as task rotation and position rotation. However, the aim is to expose employees to different kinds of experience and a wider variety of skills in order to enhance job satisfaction. Because there are plenty of advantages for both employees and employers, a job rotation policy ought to be implemented as an HR strategy.
Job rotation helps individuals to obtain experience in different phases of the business and, thus, broaden their perspective. Job rotation is a developmental technique that has been widely used but, surprisingly, engaged poor attention in human resource development.
The employer as well as employee can benefit from job rotation. It means employer learning theory and employee learning theory. Not only customers but also employees have to be identified in doing business. Senior managers are able to get an idea of skills and knowledge their employees possess, so that they can make a decision how far an employee is suitable for a position. Assigning tasks without careful consideration of skills can open a can of worms.
On the other hand, employees also have a chance to try out and find out the area at which their interests and capabilities lie. Human beings are by nature willing to do something different or new; at the same time, they can get different experiences. Once people are engaged in different kinds of work, their inner strength can be pulled out. Furthermore, this not only increases the creativity but also reduces the monotony of the job. When an employee is familiar with every vertical of the company, succession planning can be easily made.
This helps managers to explore the hidden talents. Each and every person may not be good at everything but at different things. Once people are provided with tasks at which they are good, employees are self-motivated and pleased to do the job. It needless to say that people enjoy doing what they like to do. All these things result in productivity and efficiency at the work place. What is more important to note here is that the extent to which people require training can be different from person to person. Hence, managers are able to plan out training programmes by identifying employees.
There are many disadvantages related to job rotation. It is true that job rotation enables employees to know and work beyond their domain and also gain from other team members’ expertise and knowledge. However, a question has to be raised as to whether every employee is willing and able to work with people in other departments. Hence, senior managers have to spend time on motivating them. This becomes a time-consuming process.
Even though people changed their mind to agree with job rotation, they require a considerable period of time to adjust into a different working environment. Although individuals working beyond usual expertise can contribute, their output is certainly lower than what an expert can deliver. Short-term productivity losses and some quality issues can occur. This has a bad impact on the organisational performance.
Job rotation might lead to stress and anxiety among employees. Employees may be reluctant to come out of their comfort zone and hardly contribute in other departments. On the other hand, forced job rotation could not be so useful. It must be a volunteer job rotation. Because people that are forced to say “yes” to the rotation could not only create problems but also negatively impact on others’ performance. Moreover, the final outcome can be employee turnover.
The way forward
After cost-benefit analysis, senior managers ought to design a job rotation programme, which will be further supported by other senior managers in respective departments in which job rotation is going to be implemented. On the other hand, job rotation is not suitable for all the companies. As product or service which companies deliver, employee behaviour, organisational culture and technology used can vary from organisation to organisation; this has become a formula which cannot be applied for all the organisations. Hence, it is up to the seniors to conclude how far this is suitable for the company.
(Amila Muthukutti holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Colombo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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