Job rotation programs turn heads (Web sight)

Increasing turnover costs, fear of losing expertise to competitors and the spotty successes of expensive knowledge management systems have many senior executives uttering a common cry: “Don’t let my good people go.” Job rotation is re-emerging as a key component of leadership development programs which are designed to keep high-quality employees by broadening career paths and providing new opportunities to learn and develop. As such, HR professionals can use job rotation as a tool for ensuring top talent will remain with the firm.

The following sources help determine if, when and how to piece together a job rotation approach as part of a program designed to develop the firm’s leaders.

Who’s using job rotations

If you’re wondering about wide-spread work trends in Canada, including job rotation, and you don’t want to negotiate through often unfriendly government sites, consider this site. Quickly review the adoption of job rotation by industry, geography and size of firm. (See page 9 for a look at job rotation by firm size.)

Outside of Canada

Of course job rotation isn’t unique to Canada. Get a sense of the adoption of these programs in the U.K. by scanning this somewhat wordy, but well organized and researched paper. In this case, the objective of the rotation scheme is to provide work experience for the unemployed who move into positions left vacant by employees absent from work for training and development.

Development considerations, structure

Trying to make a case for job rotation can be difficult at the best of times. This paper can help make such programs very tangible by answering the following key questions:

•What are the pros and cons of job rotation?

•What difficulties in implementation can be expected?

•What are the goals of the job rotation program?

•What are the steps involved in developing the program?

The article is made even more useful with the addition of a job rotation checklist and baseline rotation questionnaire.

A theoretical foundation

If you want to place job rotation into a broader perspective of job redesign, a starting place may be the landmark work by Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham (Work Redesign, 1979). But, if you’re looking for a framework rooted in economic theory, review the paper “Job Rotation: Costs, Benefits and Stylized Facts.” Not exactly a page-turner, but a good theoretical and quantitative starting point.

Final thoughts, applied insights

The Entrepreneur Web site frequently has some useful insights — particularly for younger companies. To get an expert’s opinion, go to this site then type “job rotation” in the search box and click on the first article, “Is Job Rotation a Motivator or a Punishment?” This piece makes one good point: design your job rotation program so that it doesn’t become an unintentional reward for poor productivity.

Leadership from NASA

And on leadership in the broader context, here’s a site worth investigating. NASA’s comprehensive reference list of articles, books and Internet resources on this topic covers everything from the use of motivational management to e-learning for developing leadership skills. For the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s take on necessary executive core qualifications, visit http://www.opm.
gov/ses/ecq.html. One interesting article, which can be accessed under “Internet Resources,” provides food for thought (once you get past the typos) on “authentic” leadership.

A. Brown is president of Write On The Money — business writing and communications that drive your audiences to take the actions that you want. For more information, visit

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