You've just been struck by a single brilliant idea to resolve three challenges dogging your companys plant floor. The solution: introduce job rotation. The challenges: unmotivated workers, your desire for a more flexible workforce and chronic ergonomic injuries.
Well, think again. While introducing job rotation may assist in resolving the aforementioned concerns, rarely is it the singular solution.
Job rotation alone is a limited measure that usually obtains limited results, says Gerry Ledford, president of Ledford Consulting Network, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Imagine, for example, the manufacturer that implements job rotation to reduce employees boredom with performing a single rote task over and over again. A poorly thought out job-rotation effort doesn't necessarily fix the problem and here's why: A typical problem is that "companies [then] ask employees to do a variety of poorly designed, unmotivating tasks rather than just one," Ledford says.
He should know. Ledford has more than 30 years of experience in human resource consulting and research, including a lengthy stint at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business.
While he doesn't promote job rotation as an easy solution to throw at workforce issues, Ledford says that, done well, it can provide companies with a number of benefits. It is the done well aspect that can get overlooked.
Ideally, job rotation should be part of a larger effort at redesigning work, Ledford suggests. That means it should be used in combination with other job redesign tools, including the creation of work teams where applicable, a leaner management structure, increased information sharing about the business and, most critically, increased employee decision-making responsibility, he says.
In combination, these tools usually drive increased employee productivity and satisfaction, less turnover and absenteeism, and higher quality, he says.