South-Western - Management  
Energize and Enhance Employee Value with Job Rotation
Topic Motivation
Key Words Cross-training, job rotation, high-potential employees, employee morale
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News Story

Job rotation can serve many purposes, including to encourage innovation, to help retain key employee, and to reenergize the workforce.

Most companies don’t share talent or ideas between business units. Many line managers fear productivity disruption or the loss of a good employee to another area. To gain the support of these managers, it is important to stress the benefits that rotation can bring, including skill-building, cross-pollination of ideas, greater understanding of the business, and enhanced productivity. These benefits can far outweigh any costs or inconvenience.

Cross-training can help keep people feeling fresh and motivated. They also gain knowledge that can help them become more flexible in an increasingly competitive corporate environment.

With recent talent shortages in many areas, job rotation may be a better option than sending employees out to get a formal education. Job rotation can even work at different career levels:

  • New hires: most commonly used; gives new hires the chance to get a taste of different areas of specialization or services to which they can later commit on a full-time basis.
  • Mid-career management development and succession planning: frequently used as part of the promotion and development process.
  • Retirement planning and knowledge retention.
There are also many different types of programs including:
  • Project rotation
  • Partial/one-day-a-week rotation
  • Cross-functional rotation
  • Cross-region rotation
  • Internship prior to a rotation
  • “Fill-in,” temporary, or team assignments
  • Interdepartmental mentoring or coaching assignments
There are two types of job rotation arrangements, formal programs that are centrally administered, and formats offered to managers as optional tools for their workgroups. In both cases, support from top management is key to the program’s success.

Good programs should not only match an employee’s need for experience but also meet the employer’s business needs.


List at least five reasons why a company should consider using a job rotation program.


What are some of the potential pitfalls of which a company that wants to implement a job rotation program should be aware? What are two things that a program coordinator can do to position a job rotation program for success?


One way that job-rotation programs can benefit companies is that fresh eyes can point out how jobs can be designed better and more efficiently. Review Hackman and Oldham’s job characteristics model in your book. How can the elements of this model be used to improve job performance?

Source “Energize and Enhance Employee Value with Job Rotation,” HR Focus, Jan. 2008 v85 i11 p6.
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