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What Is a Job Rotation? A Guide for Managers

A job rotation is a system within a business where staff cycle through different roles in their company according to a fixed schedule. Job rotation benefits include improved schedule flexibility and more part-time employment opportunities. It may also keep staff excited about their jobs and help them build more diverse skill sets.

When implementing work rotation, it’s important to keep your organization’s tasks and scheduling needs in mind to maximize the benefits of the job rotation program.

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Right from the start: Effective job rotations

When properly implemented, a job rotation program can be highly beneficial to your company. Avoid some of the potential drawbacks of job rotation by approaching your work rotation efforts with a thoughtful plan. Successful job rotations share these traits:

  • A defined goal:Before you start using job rotation, you should have a reason with a definitive target to work toward. Does your company have small tasks that don’t add up to a full schedule and can be sourced to an existing employee in a job rotation program? Would the company benefit from expanding the staff’s understanding of its overall policies and procedures? An effective job rotation program addresses issues the company currently faces and ways in which procedures could be improved.
  • A planned structure: After setting a goal, creating a detailed plan for achieving it is key. You should have plans for the length of each rotation, which employees will be moving and where, and what the expectations are of each person in their new role.
  • Measurable results: Having targets that you can measure directly instead of aiming for abstract concepts without outlining methods of determining success makes assessing the results of your job rotation program significantly easier.
  • Mutually beneficial arrangements: The best job rotation programs offer benefits for staff as well as the company. In addition to strengthening morale, staff growth helps improve your company’s performance. Increase your companies employee value proposition when seeking new talent by offering employees perks such as flexible schedules and growth opportunities.
  • Clear communication: Maintaining open lines of communication throughout the rotation ensures that your employees understand expectations and gives them a path to share their opinions about how the project is going.
  • Thorough documentation: Keeping accurate records is a good business practice in general and is of particular importance during job rotation programs.
  • Adjustment in response to results: Ideally, your initial plan will unfold flawlessly; however, there will likely be room for improvement. By assessing performance regularly, you can make real-time adjustments or note possible changes for future job rotation plans to improve results.

Important considerations for job rotation programs

When introducing job rotations to your office, knowing what to expect can help you get the best possible results from your staff. These three important considerations can help you set reasonable expectations and set your company up for success:

  • Expect varying results:Because you’re moving employees out of the roles they are accustomed to and into new ones, you should focus on implementing a thorough training protocol that suits employees of all skill levels. As employees settle into new roles, they need time to adjust to their new responsibilities. While the training process can be time-consuming, this drawback is temporary and is compensated by the many benefits of work rotation programs.
  • Provide training for new tasks: When moving employees into new roles, providing them with any resources they need to get acclimated to their new duties and expectations can help them perform effectively. When employees are given new tasks, it’s important to carefully define their responsibilities and train them on their new job.
  • Prepare for some hesitancy: To get the best results from a job rotation plan, it’s important to make the staff comfortable with the change in operations. When staff members express reservations about their new roles, listen to their concerns and address them directly to help prepare them for the rotation. Provide your employees with a listening ear with an effective HR team to find solutions to any issues that may arise from the job rotation program.

Benefits of job rotations

The reason that job rotation is gaining popularity in businesses is that it provides many positive elements when properly implemented. The top benefits of job rotation include:

  • Improve job satisfaction: Research by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that when a well-designed job rotation program is in effect, staff are less stressed and overall happier in their positions.
  • Employee interest: Distraction and loss of focus can result in production loss, and job rotation is a way to avoid this. Moving between assignments keeps work interesting and employees on task.
  • Skill development: Working in a variety of jobs allows staff to learn new tasks and develop the new skills required to perform in the new roles. According to recent research, new job seekers are interested in positions that allow them to build their careers over a wide range of experiences, and 87% of participants agree that they will require new job skills over their lifetimes regardless of their current career.
  • Challenges produce growth: Pushing an employee outside of their comfort zone opens the possibility for increased growth as a result of the extra effort required.
  • Informed promotion decisions: Seeing employees working in a variety of roles provides more opportunity to assess their performance and skills and identify strong candidates for internal advancement.
  • Improve employee sourcing practices: Instead of using recruitment techniques to increase your workforce, you can use job rotation to source talent internally when you don’t necessarily need an extra employee. When a task arises that needs to be added to the company schedule, finding the best employee for the job might simply mean reaching out to your existing team.
  • Easier coverage: Because staff in a rotation learn to do many jobs, finding coverage for sick or vacationing staff is easier. It also eliminates the need to outsource employees when staff is short due to emergencies. Using job rotation allows a company to employ full-time and part-time employees, depending on the organization’s specific needs at any time. An example would be allowing employees to be on call to cover for sick coworkers.
  • Mentorship opportunities: Job rotation asks more from management within departments as they train and guide rotated staff, which also opens the opportunity for closer relationships between staff and their managers.

FAQs about job rotation

Here are answers to the most common questions about job rotation.

Job rotation definition: what are job rotations?

Job rotations are a system where employees are rotated between positions within a company, taking on different roles from their formal position. Rotation can be done on a small scale with a single employee to build that employee’s skills or as a larger initiative to foster overall growth within a company.

How do job rotations work?

In a job rotation system, staff members are given a structured plan for moving from their usual roles into different positions within the company, depending on the its needs. Usually, a set length of time is determined at the start of the rotation, and positions are chosen specifically to help further the employee’s development or identify a better use of their talents.

What are the benefits of job rotation and the drawbacks?

The No. 1 benefit of job rotation is that the company gets access to a wider range of talent within its existing workforce, often eliminating the need to hire new recruits. Employees benefit from a more flexible schedule and increased job satisfaction. One of the drawbacks to job rotation is that employees may become disgruntled if they’re rotated out of a position they enjoy into one they do not. It’s important to communicate clearly with employees before implementing a job rotation program to ensure they’re comfortable with the changes.

How long do job rotation programs last?

Depending on a company’s needs, a work rotation can be an intermittent, temporary or permanent feature of a schedule. It isn’t uncommon for a company to begin a rotation program with the intention of using it for only a short time but decide to keep it permanently or vice versa.

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