Many companies use job rotation as a way to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. But how effective is it as a countermeasure for ergonomic issues? Over the years, there has been extensive research on job rotation. Here are three primary findings from both the research and from our recent survey on companies that use job rotation.
Job rotation has shown mixed results when looking at the reduction of MSDs in the workplace. Some studies show a reduction in MSDs, while others do not. From the information we reviewed, we cannot directly conclude that job rotation is an effective way to reduce MSDs. However, companies that we surveyed in our own study found a more significant reduction in MSDs the longer job rotation was used. There are a few things to consider: the survey results were self-reported, the data could not be directly linked to job rotation, and there were likely other improvements to the work environment being implemented concurrently. In terms of reducing MSDs, we feel companies should consider job rotation to be a short-term solution, while other risk-reduction controls are explored.
Even though job rotation showed mixed results with regard to the reduction of MSDs, there can be other benefits, such as boosting employee morale. When employees are empowered and trained to do other tasks day-to-day, their attitude toward work can improve. Both research results and the survey findings show that job rotation can provide significant psychological benefits for employees. In fact, some studies show that job rotation increases employee satisfaction and the amount of pride they take in their own work.
Finally, we looked at the impact that job rotation has on productivity and quality. Both existing research and our survey results conclude that it is difficult to quantify the impact that job rotation has on productivity and quality. It is not often directly measured. There are some theories that job rotation will improve product quality because the changes in the physical work environment will keep the employee more engaged and less likely to commit errors at work. It should be noted that there may actually be some productivity and quality decreases at the beginning of job rotation programs due to the learning curve employees experience while learning new tasks.
Overall, job rotation can be beneficial to organizations, though it should not replace the job improvement process. Removing and/or reducing risk in the workplace is the number one MSD countermeasure.
To learn more about our study on job rotation, please download the white paper, “The Effectiveness of Job Rotation on Work Performance.” It includes information such as considerations when designing a job rotation program and what companies should be working on concurrently when implementing job rotation.