When an organisation establishes a job rotation system, an employee gets varying job assignments. If an accountant performs work for a hospital and then he switches to the police department, this is one type of job rotation. If the accountant works on an auditing assignment and his next assignment involves tax preparation, this is also job rotation. Job rotation helps a worker develop his skill set, but it can be complicated for an employer to manage.
A significant benefit of job rotation is its productivity. Rotation can raise the worker's morale because she gets to try new jobs, so boredom and burnout are less of a problem. The worker is less likely to call in sick, show up late or quit her job. The worker also can learn skills on one job that she can apply to another job, which helps her perform her work more efficiently. This is why cross training is another term for job rotation.
One disadvantage of job rotation is that problems occur if tasks take place at different work sites. If a government agency runs two hospitals and it rotates a nurse to work a shift at a hospital that is 20 miles farther from her house, the inconvenience and extra costs of the longer commute reduce the psychological benefits of the job rotation.
A job rotation program could raise a worker's concern about his job security. An experienced worker might not want to train another worker to operate machine tools as part of a job rotation program, because he is concerned that the other worker will take his job. The machine operator could also be worried about rotating to another job that he enjoys less, such as a clerk job, for a few months, and then finding out that the company has hired another machine operator so he can no longer return to his old job.
Job rotation can reduce the rate of workplace injuries. If a worker performs the same task for years, such as typing information into a computer or making the same hand movements on an assembly line, she risks a repetitive motion injury. An employer can rotate a worker to different tasks throughout the day to reduce the physical strain on the worker, but the employer needs to make sure that the other jobs exercise different muscles.
Work schedules are another disadvantage of job rotation. If a hotel desk clerk normally works during the daytime and the manager rotates him to night audit, this affects his sleep schedule. When Belton Emergency Services implemented job rotation for firefighters, some firefighters did not want to switch to office jobs that involved a standard 40-hour work schedule.
Job rotation can be dangerous in certain professions. If an emergency technician or a firefighter switches jobs with a medical records clerk, the clerk might not know how to operate equipment in the ambulance as well as the experienced firefighter. Even if a production worker is used to working in a factory, rotating her to another machine can increase her risk of injury because she is less familiar with using the other machine.