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Job Exchange Programs- A Different Spin On Employee Development

Originally posted: September 6, 2009 on TrishMcFarlane.com

It’s September and for most kids that means the start of a new school year full of change.  A new teacher, meeting new friends, playing with new kids at recess, a new school bus driver.  Kids have such excitement and motivation to start the new adventure.  Wouldn’t it be great to have this feeling at work?  How can we bring that same excitement and enthusiasm or “fresh start” to work?  What can HR do to encourage this behavior? 

Depending on the type of company you work for, there may not be much opportunity to change things up.  For example, in manufacturing environments, you may have a union contract to adhere to or it may be challenging to move people to a new production line or new shift.  In a professional environment, the client may need or want a specific work team to remain in place for consistency of service quality.  However, to the extent possible, one way HR can encourage smaller-scale “fresh starts”  is by working with managers and leadership to create a job exchange program.

What is a job exchange program? 

A job exchange program works much like a foreign student exchange program.  An employee basically switches to another group, department, city, or any other division in the company.  There, the employee is “hosted” by the receiving office and gains exposure to the culture, employees, and clients of that office.  It can be a situation where two employees truly “exchange” positions for a set period of time- anywhere from a few weeks, to months, or longer.  It can also be a situation where an office or group needs help during a particularly busy time and they enlist assistance from other parts of the company.  Although the latter happens in companies now, I do not know of many organizations that capitalize on capturing the results of their employees working in a different location or group.

What can the HR team do to help capture the results ?

  • Publicize job exchange as a formal learning and development opportunity on the company website for potential candidates.
  • Does the company have an internal blog?  Interview the employees who have participated in the job exchange and  promote their experience to the rest of the company.
  • Use video interviews as a way to capture the experiences of the participants.  The videos can be used on the company website, in presentations, as recruiting tools, and more.
  • Host webinars or lunch-n-learn sessions where participants in the job exchange share their experiences “live” with colleagues.

There are many more creative ways to promote this beneficial program in your company. If you work in a company that currently has a job exchange program, I’d love to hear about it.  If your company doesn’t have this type of program and you think it would or would not work, I’d love to hear that too.

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