One of the greatest challenges to successful management is the optimization of work assignments. Maximising employee productivity and work flow can be a daunting task for any manager, but there are strategies to aid in the work assignment process for both those in industrial and factory settings and knowledge-based office positions.
In either setting, there is an increased risk of employee burnout, errors, and injuries when employees are asked to complete the same repetitive tasks for the duration of their shifts. Despite this knowledge, many companies continue to ask workers to complete similar or identical tasks throughout the course of the workday. To break out of this model, management must first seek to identify the individual combinations of knowledge, skills, and abilities that each worker presents, and utilize these unique combinations to create a job rotation that will be successful for each worker.
In an industrial factory setting, repetitive physical tasks often lead to boredom. Once an employees’ mind begins to wander, they are significantly more likely to make a mistake that could lead to production loss or injury, or to begin experiencing physical symptoms caused by repetitive motions. In some cases, employees may find themselves experiencing burnout, leaving management scrambling to account for turnover rates.
Job rotation is a management method that involves training employees to complete tasks in various departments of the organisation, or to complete tasks using varying methods. By training employees on multiple workstations and rotating job assignments regularly, you will find that finding an employee qualified to cover for a sick coworker is no longer a daunting task, and that overlooked errors are easier to spot. Changing work station assignments regularly can ensure that training received across multiple departments remains current and that productivity does not begin to suffer after prolonged periods of repetitious tasks.
Just as factories can benefit from cross-training exercises and job rotations, having multiple employees trained in the basic functions of the office can be a blessing in disguise. Providing employees whose predominate tasks involve computer usage with an opportunity to complete a physical task, even as simple as walking down stairs to collect a mail delivery, can go a long ways towards refreshing the employee and increasing productivity. Adding in job rotation increases employees’ job satisfaction and leaves them feeling appreciated and valued by their company. As any good manager knows, this level of employee dedication to an organisation decreases burnout and job turnover, saving the organisation the cost of recruiting and training new workers.
In either industrial or office settings, investing in employee training across multiple departments provides valuable opportunities for employees to provide feedback regarding day to day operations. Jill in accounting may be surprisingly astute at devising an accountability method for data entry in the sales department, while Dave the salesman is able to point out redundancies in the sales forms accounting requires.
Regardless of the types of tasks being completed, job rotation is most successful when management seeks to match each employee with tasks that call upon their unique skills, while ensuring the rotating tasks are not so similar as to still seem repetitive. By analyzing the available positions in your company and investing the time required for thorough cross-training, you will soon find that your work force can easily shift to accommodate sick days, turnover, or departmental deadlines with ease.
Head of Training and Development
Originally published: 28 July, 2014
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