It is rare these days for employees to stay in the same position in a company for years.
According to studies, the willingness to change jobs is particularly high among young professionals.
Some employers are therefore trying to provide more variety - by offering programs for so-called job rotation.
For example, at the Lidl food group, employees there can switch to one of the company's foreign locations for one to two years.
For example, the employees can discover everyday working life in sunny Lisbon and learn Portuguese in an extra-occupational language course.
They usually work in a similar position in the target country as in their home country, so the rotation does not put any obstacles in the way of their career.
However, there are no tasks from the German location at that time,
A station at a foreign headquarters of your own company is just one possible form of internal job rotation.
As with Lidl, the term can refer to a specially created program in which employees move to another location or position.
This is also often found in traineeships, where trainees switch between departments.
In the same way, job rotation can take place in a project team whose members swap tasks every few days – to get a fresh perspective on things.
Thomas Bartscher, Professor of Personnel Management and Digitization at the Technical University of Deggendorf, says: "Job rotation means learning new things over and over again."
In the past, the motivation of employers to allow employees to rotate jobs was purely pragmatic.
The idea came about in the 1970s in the automotive industry.
"Studies have shown that employees become less productive if they keep doing the same thing," says Bartscher.
"Rotation was intended to break up this monotony." Instead of doing the same things on the assembly line all day long, production employees changed positions every few hours.
"The variety made them more efficient."
"Breaking down silos and fostering collaboration"
Today, this form of job rotation is no longer needed; these assembly line tasks are mostly performed by machines.
"Now it's primarily about qualifying employees as broadly as possible," says Bartscher.
If you spend some time in another department, you might learn something that you can later apply in your old position.
"At least it promotes the ability and willingness to deal with something new." That is also the goal of the rotation program at Lidl, as Marco Monego says.
He is Head of Human Resources at Lidl Germany and says: "Employees should return from the job rotation with new impulses for themselves, their own work and the team and bring in their new experiences again."
Job rotation can also promote internal exchange, as a program by the communications agency Edelman shows.
Employees exchange positions with colleagues from one of the company's foreign locations for four weeks and get to know the working methods of the branches.
"This pays off, especially for our international customers," says Stefanie Zeidler, Personnel Developer at Edelman.
"This is how we want to break down silos and encourage collaboration."
For a job rotation to be successful, the executives in particular must be behind it, says human resources expert Bartscher.
If the old boss keeps coming back with orders for the original team during the rotation, there is not much time to learn new things.
"A project like this only works well if managers really want and support the rotation." It's not that easy, because job rotation initially means a lot of work, especially for managers.
A team member drops out and they need to find a replacement.
"There's a lot to organize," says Bartscher.
At the same time, goal teams need to break in the rotators before they can accomplish anything.
In the beginning, “the productivity and performance of the participating departments declined”.
The new skills will only take effect in the long term.
An effort that is worthwhile, says Bartscher.
“The classic job descriptions continue to dissolve.
In the future, people will have to work in a more versatile way and be able to spontaneously engage in new things.” This is confirmed by a study by the management consultancy Deloitte from 2020. According to this, in 2035 two thirds of professional tasks will not be routine.
Instead, interactive and analytical skills will increasingly be in demand.
This is also the reason why Bartscher expects that there may no longer be institutionalized job rotation programs in the future.
“People have to be able to work flexibly and be trained right from the start,” he says.
"Their jobs will be so varied that separate programs will no longer be necessary."Keywords: