The Idea of Job Swap

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For some people, the term ‘job swap’ is a strange concept, but the process is not as uncommon as you would think and is gaining momentum at a rapid pace, particularly amongst larger companies.

However, in actual fact, it is also an opportunity that smaller scale businesses should consider as well. For instance, it’s usually the case that the proportional benefits to smaller businesses are much larger than that of bigger entities, particularly in terms of immediate impact from more experienced and energised employees.

The opportunity can sound a little disconcerting, particular for employers. However, the benefits for both the employer and the employee are multifaceted such as increased employee retention, rapid upskilling, as well as improvements to business structure and operations amongst a plethora of others which I’ll cover in this blog.  

Still not convinced? Well, let me see if I can change your mind about job swapping through the rest of this blog.

What is Job Swapping?

In essence, the idea is an opportunity to work in a similar position as your own, but with a new workplace, colleagues, and environment. In simplicity, you are swapping roles with another person in another business function or location for a specified period of time.

This gives your employees the unparalleled chance of getting a bigger picture of the company as well as a clearer understanding of how various departments or areas function.

Such arrangements can easily be settled between two managers or two department heads. This is most often the case for employees who come from the same departments or similar niches, where they are able to exchange workplaces, obtain and provide new ideas, insights and valuable experiences, from operations to processes and much more.

Coffee at work in front of a dual-screen computer monitor

There are also undoubtedly many other surprises that come with a job swap. Even the little things can be a refreshing change when pursuing the job exchange option. This can even include being introduced to an espresso machine that produces much tastier macchiato than what you have had at your old headquarters.

However, aside from the coffee tasting guinea pig option, if fully thought out and agreed cautiously between the two responsible parties, job swapping programs (or ‘job exchange’ programs) can save money, time and effort for everyone involved.

What are the main benefits of Job Swapping?

The benefits from a job swap are potentially a lot more than just the sampling of better coffee at a new workplace.

For instance, as a manager or employer, when you consider job swapping, this is a great chance to open your mind on how to run your office and operations differently, and often more effectively.

There are also undoubtedly many other surprises that come with a job swap. Even the little things can be a refreshing change when pursuing the job exchange option. This can even include being introduced to an espresso machine that produces much tastier macchiato than what you have had at your old headquarters.

Skill and Knowledge Transfer

a man teaches a classroom of adult students

Firstly, when a staff member is able to take part in a job swap, the most obvious benefit to the business is the acquisition of new knowledge and skills that the employee is able to exchange at the corresponding department or location.

Sure, you can sign your staff up for extra work development courses and upskilling opportunities, but that is often not replicative of the day to day of any job. 

For example, if a marketing executive from your company takes advantage of a job swapping opportunity, they will get insight into how other parts of your business manage key tasks in the value creation process and have the chance to identify potential improvements.

This can lead to the discovery of efficiency gains, time saving opportunities and more effective marketing methods which are transferable.

Wider Employee Experiences

A collection of people at an office workshop looking at a screen monitor

It goes without saying that job swapping is a fantastic way for your employees to build wider experience more quickly than they necessarily would otherwise.

Often employees feel the need to move permanently to other businesses to help pursue their own career ambitions, as well as to bolster their CV’s and Resumes. 

By giving your employees the opportunity to widen their horizons with job swap opportunities, you both invest in their value which they can have on your company with their wider acquired learnings, whilst minimising their urge to move companies.

Let’s face it, if you can retain great staff and provide them with great opportunities for growth then it’s a complete win-win scenario.

Improve Employee Retention

two women happily discuss a project at a table in an office

With the high costs of recruitment, time lost in training up new staff and investments employers make in their employees, it’s never been more paramount that employers are consciously acting to help retain talented members of staff.

Job swapping supports employee retention by providing wider flexibility and opportunities for your members of staff. They can expand their own capabilities, learn new skills, test new departments, and sample new locations amongst a number of other advantages.

This investment in your staff’s ambition further supports a progressive and forward-thinking culture, which is notably important for today’s workforce more than ever.

Networking

a table of people discussing a topic at a networking event

Another opportunity comes in the form of network building.

Whether you love it or hate it, networking is still a hugely important business strategy – helping businesses to bolster their ecosystem of potential partners, customers, and wider stakeholders, or simply just spotting internal opportunities is vital for business success.

Job swapping establishes a fantastic platform to exchange information and build deeper connections with other regional locations or business areas, where wider network leveraging can potentially add value to each part of your business. 

In the long-term, this connection may lead to more business for you, enhanced support for your operations, or even simply introduce you to a wider client base. 

Job swapping is another great way to kick this off faster and build even deeper networking connections.

Upskilling your workforce faster

a stressed office worker stares at his macbook pro computer screen

Another fantastic benefit of role swapping is the practical upskilling of your employees.

In simplicity, the more your employees can leverage the job swap to learn new skills, discover new ways of thinking, and alternative approaches to challenges, the more practical the upskilling of your employees will be.

Though, this doesn’t come with a certificate or a diploma, the practical impact on your employees day-to-day work can be dramatically improved.

Role Progression

a close up of two office workers shaking hands

From the employees perspective, the ability to try out new roles and job specifications gives them a taste of the wider job market whilst retaining their position.

It’s a bit like having the ability to gamble with the risk completely mitigated. 

And, though this isn’t traditionally seen as role progression, it does increase the value of each employee who takes part in the programme. 

To quote the famous Uncle Ben (sort of) from Spider-Man, ‘with more knowledge, comes more responsibility’.

As the employer, you can then also start to see the extra value of your employees, which could open the door for further internal progression discussions – another win-win.

Further Benefits of Job Swapping

a group of office workers discuss a challenge together

Job swaps can also be beneficial for employees that simply want an opportunity to develop their knowledge further or tap into skills that are not currently sourced in their current place of work or role.

Experiencing a different work culture and environment while remaining in the same field of expertise will also add some value to your employee’s ongoing work – allowing them to develop further with a wider array of perspectives and approaches.

How does Job Swapping work?

Generally speaking, job swapping can occur in two ways which usually requires an involved professional entity to establish the job swap and set up the process for how it will work.

First, it can involve the swapping of employees between companies situated in one country. This is usually the simplest form of job swapping to set up due to the lessened impact of international relocation requirements, which can vary greatly on the territory.

Second, such an exchange can happen at an international level. For example, a company from Iceland can arrange to swap employees with a company in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark or elsewhere.

a group of female office workers discuss an issue in a meeting room at a white table

There are already some internal job-swapping platforms available that can efficiently facilitate the process for companies in-house – particularly those that have multiple locations.

For example, sending a sales representative to another branch to become familiar with that region’s market allows for cross training and development, whilst also breaking down departmental silos. 

Also, having that same person transfer to the marketing team, because of their interest in that career path, can help to retain an all-star employee rather than potentially losing them to another company that has a similar opening.

Interested parties can open company profiles at such platforms, fill in their requirements and find a suitable match for them.

Job swapping is currently also trending in Iceland where several agencies can facilitate the process, which is helping to support business growth in Iceland.

A job swapping arrangement can be one way to spice up the life of an employee who might need a little push, or to be re-engaged with what they do. Negotiating this will help an employee become more productive and feel more valued in the company.

an exhausted female employee looking confused infront of her laptop

How Job Swaps can support temporary projects

When recruiting personnel for temporary projects, companies are usually not arranging a contract with the person for a year, five years, ten years or more. 

However, when a company hires a new staff member, it means they are also ready to invest in the person. 

The time and resources spent on recruiting and training an employee are high and the time between can frequently cause a missed project, deadline, and even the business itself to slow down while getting staffing up to normal levels.

a stressed male officer worker stares at his laptop computer screen

In some cases, the circumstances may allow job swapping to work as an alternative to traditional hiring. That is particularly true if it concerns a project where a temporary workforce is needed.

Needless to say, hiring for temporary work can be frustrating because of the time it takes to recruit when the time itself is of the essence for these types of assignments. 

However, in recruitment it can be difficult to identify cost-effective resources for short-term projects, with most of the workforce in search of longer-term employment opportunities.

a close up of a man signing an employment contract

A solution is to agree an employee swap when a specific project needs to be handled with the utmost competence and attention – especially when the work is incredibly time sensitive. 

Once the project is complete, the employee will return to their original position. This is another huge win-win as it can also help companies to move their existing idle staff, particularly during off-season periods.

It also offers your existing workforce a new platform to learn new skills which they could, in turn, come back and apply to their original workplace.

two female employees stare at a laptop computer screen in an office

Contrastingly, on occasions where your projects require specific expertise which you currently don’t possess in-house, it’s often more beneficial to bring in a contractor to complete the work.

An incoming employee, who may have advanced expertise in a particular field where your department is weak, can also bring knowledge to be shared with others.

Job swapping is like an exchange program for those who are already employed. This means human relations are an integral element to help create, structure and set up these opportunities that are most beneficial to the business.

Negotiating a job swap might sound somewhat odd to some people, but it’s actually a completely normal and essential practice to do. Communicating the goals and benefits to your employees, as well as putting in place a fully planned list of defined aims and objectives is crucial to the success of these schemes. 

You should treat each job swap as a new role, as it will be in the eyes of your employees. As with any new hire, the base requirements of a role description, set employer expectations, and job responsibilities are just as important for the success of each job swap.

This can particularly work well for those who feel that they have been stagnant in a role or are just looking for a change. A job swap can notably simulate a new working life, from which a person can collect authentic work experiences whilst remaining with an employer.

How can Job Swapping positively affect your business? 

As outlined above, job swapping truly is multi-faceted in its ability to re-engage stagnant and lower productive employees, isolate wider business opportunities, as well as stimulate and retain a proactive workforce amongst many other benefits.

The employer and employee relationship is built on a combination of trust, appreciation, and opportunity. Without a sufficient amount of each element, a working relationship can struggle to progress and mature.

Under the right conditions, a job swap is the perfect way to get the best out of your workforce from an employee satisfaction perspective, as well as from an economic view from employers.

two female employees discussing project results in a boardroom with a red brick wall behind them

Whether you’re a large business considering investing in setting up a job swapping opportunity or a smaller business trying to leverage the mixture of talent you have available, the benefits of offering a role swapping solution massively outweigh any apprehensions you may have.

Now, I’m not suggesting you head back into the office and plan a full squad rotation at your next Monday meeting. Instead, it’s worth considering the opportunities available in terms of what makes sense for your business, what challenges you are currently facing, and how job swapping could support your ambitions.

After all, a stimulated workforce, an invested workforce, and a fulfilled workforce is regularly proven to lead to higher productivity, higher staff retention, and better business performance.

Conclusion

I hope this blog helped to provide you with a greater depth of insight into the job swapping opportunity, and has given you the courage to try this out in your own business soon. Should you need any advice or support on structuring the perfect program for your business, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with our team.

Whether you’re considering setting up a job swapping scheme at your business, are looking to test the waters for the first time, or have applied this practice regularly in the past, we’d love to hear how you get on and the positive results you’ve enjoyed alongside your employees.

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Swapp Agency is an innovative recruitment firm in Reykjavik that focuses on helping people find jobs and companies to fill their openings in Iceland.

Swapp offers a range of services to their clients in operational supports.

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