Maria Ylönen, HR consultant, is a veteran of job rotation. During her fifteen years at Orion, she has moved to a new position within the company three times. Through learning on the job, she has become familiar with the working methods and operations of various units and organisations.
Prior to her current role, she has worked as Sourcing Manager for Orion’s purchasing organisation, as a sales assistant in domestic sales and marketing, as a departmental assistant in quality assurance and as an assistant to the auditing team.
“During my many years at Orion, I have worked in a wide range of roles, often crossing organisational boundaries. I am very curious and passionate about developing myself,” says Ylönen.
Competence development starts from one’s own initiative
Ylönen says she has never changed jobs because the role was too boring or too challenging. She has always been driven simply by her enthusiasm to see and learn new things. Over the years, Ylönen has accumulated broad insight into Orion’s operations and gained a wealth of knowledge of different fields. She sees this as a richness and something for which she is grateful, both to the company and to her managers.
“I have always been open and have expressed my wishes and interest in trying out different duties. I have felt that my career has been well supported and that I have always received a thorough onboarding in my new roles.”
The aim at Orion is to make job rotation as easy as possible. Every vacancy is always announced for internal application first, and job rotation is seen as part of lifelong learning and personal competence development.
“Coaching and training are equally important and useful. However, job rotation allows for a deeper and more extensive approach to a new professional interest. I believe the best way to learn is to learn by doing,” says Ylönen.
Job rotation helps the sharing of ideas and know-how within a company
Ylönen holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which alone forms a good basis for a variety of roles. Yet she recognises that her career path has been exceptionally varied. Through job rotation, she has been able to build networks throughout Orion and bring new ideas and practices to its different units and organisations – and, in exchange, to add value to her permanent team through the takeaways from job rotation.
“Someone coming from outside may be able evaluate practices with fresh eyes and voice alternative opinions. I constantly consider whether things could be done better and whether I should speak up and share my ideas with others,” says Ylönen.
Self-awareness and taking initiative is important
Those embarking on job rotation must have a degree of courage: it is not easy to abandon familiar routines and expose yourself to learning new things.
“Job rotation also requires self-awareness. You need to be aware of your strengths as well as your limitations. You should be able to identify the talent you can offer to the new role and also the areas that you want develop in yourself.”
Ylönen admits that because she had no specific training in HR matters, taking on the role of HR consultant felt challenging. However, the qualities emphasised in the recruitment process were readiness and the ability to learn, interactive skills and good judgment of character. In her work, she carries out suitability assessments for job candidates. To carry out the assessments, she has obtained all the necessary licences.
“My manager could sense my motivation and was convinced that I would quickly get the hang of my new tasks. And if there is something I don’t know, I am not afraid to ask a colleague for advice,” Ylönen says.
Enthusiasm that benefits the employer
Ylönen emphasises that job rotation benefits the employer on many more levels than just the sharing of best practices. A motivated and inspired employee is a dynamic asset to the company, as they come up with ideas and create positive chemistry among team members.
“If an employer allows employees to try new things, the employees will in return stay more satisfied and able to develop, which is naturally in the employer’s best interest. The opportunity to develop yourself is one of the most important attractions in the workplace, and job rotation is one of the best ways to support it.”
Ylönen is not yet sure if she will be bitten by the HR bug and choose to build a more permanent career in HR – the start has been very promising. Fortunately, she does not have to decide yet. For the time being, she can focus on enjoying the new experience and all the new things that she has the opportunity to learn.
Ylönen's three tips for anyone considering job rotation:
- Self-awareness and openness with your employer about your personal goals are really important: know your strengths and areas for development, think where you want to see yourself in terms of skills in 3–5 years’ time. Remember that you can try out different roles without having to commit to them for the rest of your life.
- If you are interested in a job that is available, pick up the phone and make that call! Find out what the role involves and whether it is a good match for your skills and background. Show initiative and be proactive: nobody is going to come and fetch you from home to try something new and exciting.
- Keep an open mind and don’t hesitate to apply for a new role. Consider the added value your competence could bring to your new role, to the team and to the employer and don’t be shy to point this out in the interview.
Text: Anni Turpeinen