What Is Job Rotation?

For the question “what is job rotation?” there are really several answers, depending on the type of work an individual is involved in initially. Some describe this concept as a management approach with the goal of broadening the skills and experience of production workers. In this case, managers and business owners want to ensure that someone is available to take on other tasks when vacation and illness cause a spot to be open.

In some businesses, the object is to educate employees, giving them information about other operations in the company. Not only does this peak the interest of many on the payroll, but it can also allow employees to ask questions and suggest improvements in areas they wouldn’t normally see.

At another level of a larger company, managers and supervisors are sometimes moved, in a series of planned job rotations. Business owners and operating officers might use a rotation plan so that management personnel are familiar with various sections of the business. Then, when the time comes to fill a vacant position due to retirement, for example, there may be more than one candidate familiar with the duties of that slot.

In certain industries and with work that involves physical labor, job rotation may be used to avoid over-stressing some workers. The constant, repetitive use of the same muscles can be one of the hazards of the workplace. Wise use of rotation may help workers stay healthy, and maintain a good work atmosphere as well. Safety is often a key consideration in this situation.

Other business consultants and management gurus add another factor: flexibility in choosing staff to perform various tasks. But they caution that job rotation should not be used without some planning, especially if the concept is new within the organization. Inserting a rotation plan in any complex company requires cooperation from production workers, supervisors, department managers and officers.

Consultants and experienced business managers offer one especially interesting thought on the subject. They caution the inexperienced owner or manager to use a rotation system to prevent and prepare, not as a response to problems that begin to appear in the work process. This is a must, these observers say, when job rotation is used to reduce physical wear and mental stress.

While business owners and managers should have a tentative set of guidelines for any job rotation plan, it may be wise to hold a meeting or meetings for the purpose of getting input from workers and supervisors. This inclusion of employees is not only recommended as a rotation-plan step, but will be good for the general atmosphere of the company, according to most advisers. With a bit of research most companies can come up with a brief questionnaire that will help in gathering input. Owners and managers should then pay close attention to the details and include the ideas in a rotation plan. With the correct system in place, employees in certain departments may be able to direct a rotation plan themselves, with little or no input from “higher up.”

Simply put, job rotation means that production workers or office staff take on duties in two or more areas, even within the same day. The unstable atmosphere some managers fear may be avoided by careful planning and implementation of a rotation program.

Written by Lucas Beaumont

Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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