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May 11, 2023

Why job rotation programs are key to engagement and retention

Learn more about the benefits of job rotations and why they’re important for motivating employees, supporting career development, and supporting your internal mobility strategy.

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Our 2023 Pulse of Talent report revealed that employees feel stuck in their careers. In fact, 90% of respondents claimed they felt stuck in their job within the past year. Without opportunities to grow and explore, employees can start to feel disengaged, increasing the risk of turnover.

Job rotations are an excellent way to promote growth and development within your organization so your employees don’t have to seek outside opportunities. A good job rotation program can help increase both engagement and retention.

Here are some of the benefits of job rotation for your organization to consider and how to get started.

What is a job rotation?

A job rotation is a hands-on program where, for a certain period of time, employees rotate to a new team and immerse themselves in its functions and day-to-day tasks. Working on the job allows them to explore new career paths, gain valuable skills and experiences, and achieve their career goals with increased confidence.

Benefit 1: Support career development

Career development is increasingly important to employees. According to Deloitte, access to career development plans and opportunities (42.4%) ranked higher than salary (29.9%) as a factor when selecting an employer. But a career development plan is only as good as the nurture it receives from the employer.

In Ceridian’s 2023 Pulse of Talent, almost half of respondents (49%) indicated that they could better achieve their career aspirations if their employers provided career development plans. A job rotation program can be a key component of these plans to develop an employee’s career.

Without relevant experience, it can be hard to grow. Although learning plans and training materials are beneficial, hands-on learning is often more valuable. A study on the impact of job rotations featured in the Journal of Corporate Ownership and Control also shows that job rotations help employees acquire the skills required for a higher position. In fact, 74.1% of respondents agreed that taking part in a job rotation enhanced their chances of a promotion.

With a rotational program, organizations can develop and train employees who are interested in internal roles to help them get the exact transferrable skills and on-the-job experience they need to advance, transforming them into qualified candidates. It also opens doors to career exploration, which is a valuable step in discovering career interests. 

Benefit 2: Re-engage your workforce

The longer an employee stays in a role that doesn’t suit them, the more unmotivated they become. Without growth and flexibility, people can start to feel as though their job isn’t in line with their career aspirations, leading to turnover or burnout.

Employees want flexibility in their careers, and if they aren’t seeing internal opportunities to grow, you risk losing top talent to someone else. Rotating an employee exposes them to challenging and invigorating learning opportunities, diversifying their skillset and improving their capabilities. It’s also a fresh change from monotonous tasks. Job rotation programs can guide people to discover a career path that reignites their spark. Research also shows that job rotations are linked to higher motivation and greater productivity. In the same Journal of Corporate Ownership and Control study, 96% of respondents revealed that their productivity increased because of gaining new skills from their job rotation.

Benefit 3: Support internal mobility

Some degree of turnover is inevitable, but when it occurs you can minimize the risk of disruption with a pool of talented employees – developed through a rigorous job rotation program – who are ready to take on a new role.

Our 2023 Pulse of Talent report revealed that over 75% of respondents were interested in internal mobility to either a new role in a new team (43%) or a new career path (35%). But moving internally might not be as easy as it sounds. Often employees don't have enough experience to apply to internal jobs or employers lean towards external candidates because they fit the job description. And, according to our 2022 Executive Survey, 74% of organizations prefer to hire externally for leadership roles, increasing the risk of losing employees to someone else.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, many respondents from our Pulse of Talent would consider staying with their current employer if they were given internal opportunities to change career paths (51%) or work on a new project or team (46%). And a job rotation can develop and support employees who are interested in moving internally.

Benefit 4: Upskill for the future

Upskilling your workforce with job rotations has many benefits. A job rotation combines the right mix of training and exposure, preparing future leaders to fill key roles with transferable skills and invaluable knowledge. An employee who takes part in the program will become well-versed in different parts of the organization, and what's better than hiring an employee who already knows the ins and outs?

When roles become available, rather than spending time and money on external recruitment, it's easier to hire an internal candidate who has already been trained for the requirements of the role. Not only that, but job rotations make it easier for employers to support career goals, fostering engagement and loyalty.

With technology, succession planning tools can help you support job rotation programs and invest in your people to plan for future vacancies, support employees, and improve retention.

A solid job rotation program can improve retention and re-engage your workforce. People want career flexibility, and job rotations can empower those interested in exploring new roles and teams. With internal mobility, a key factor in retention, consider how job rotations can help you provide opportunities for career progression to develop talent from within.

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