The term “transfer” suggests a lateral movement for an employee from one department or position to another within the same company. Salary, status, skills and responsibility are generally on a level footing between the old position and the new.
Transfers play an important part of company strategy as they minimise office politics and encourage transparency in different roles. It is widely known that employees are more motivated and committed to their jobs when they are interested in the tasks assigned to them. Therefore, transfers can be used to build a more satisfied workforce and increase productivity and the retention of staff.
A few purposes of transfers from an employer’s perspective include:
- Increasing the capability and versatility of important positions
- Growing the effectiveness of the company
- Correcting indifferences between employees
- Dealing with fluctuations in workloads
- Rectifying an initial mistake in employee placement
- Solving employee malpractice in a certain position
Whilst transfers are mostly positive, I have to point out that there can be some drawbacks with transfers within large organisations. If the employee receiving the transfer has to move to a different location, there may be both emotional and financial disturbances from the change, such as family members not wanting to move or the cost of transferring household items and furniture. The worst outcome could be that the employee may resign if they do not want to leave their current location and feel they have no other option.
Types of Transfers
There are a number of different types of transfers which depend on the reason for the shift. These include:
Production Transfers – these transfers take place if there is a surplus of employees in a certain department. Staff members who may be useful in a different area are transferred to even out staffing needs.
Replacement Transfers – generally speaking, a new employee will come in to give the existing member of staff some relief if there is a heavy workload or too many responsibilities which are being compromised due to lack of availability.
Rotation – quite often used in the likes of retail, this transfer gives employees different responsibilities throughout their shift or week at work. It helps reduce boredom and increases productivity if new goals are put in place for each rotation.
Corrective Transfers – employees can sometimes spend time in a position before the employer realises their talents may be more useful in a different department or role. This type of transfer occurs to place the staff member in a more suitable position.
As discussed in the previous articles, policies are important to put in place in every area of the company, and it’s no different when dealing with employee transfers. The policy should include all types of transfers (like those stated above) and be included in the overall staff handbook.
The policy needs to include the following points:
- Company rights when deciding to transfer an employee
- The terms and conditions under which employees can ask for a transfer to another role or department
- Procedures involved when transferring
- The rules around transferring back to a former role if the new position isn’t working out
- Employee remuneration and responsibilities in the new role
Terms and conditions should stipulate who the employee has to address an application for transfer to, as well as the necessary documents needed to support the application, such as reference letters. It should also be stated which other elements will be taken into consideration by management when considering a transfer request, including performance and attendance records as well as skills and knowledge relating to the potential new position.
Conditions of when an employee can take advantage of a transfer should also be incorporated to ensure guidelines are known to all. Often, transfers can only be requested if the member of staff has been with the company for a certain length of time or if there have been changes to an employee’s terms, for example longer working hours or decrease in salary or if the company is undergoing a merger or change in structure and the employee sees it as there chance to put their talents to good use in another role.
Transferring an Employee
As mentioned above, some employees may be delighted to transfer to another department or role, whereas some may not receive the news with greatest pleasure. Therefore it is important for employers and managers to follow a process when discussing transfers.
Whether the employee or the employer is requesting the transfer, there should be a meeting to discuss the potential transfer in detail. The employee should be made aware of changes in salary and other remuneration as well as the new job title and responsibilities. If the employer needs to see letters of recommendation the staff member should be informed at this time. There should also be time allocated to answering any questions the employee has. Minutes should be taken for all information discussed in the meeting should any future issues arise.
After the meeting, a letter should be sent to the transferee discussing all arrangements discussed at the meeting and agreed between the employee, human resources and management. A date by which the employee has to respond should be included in the letter so the steps of transfer can start to take place.
A reasonable amount of time should be allocated between the employee transfer announcement and the actual transfer. This accommodates for training if it is necessary, as well as enough time for team members to consider roles and their responsibilities going forward.
Finally, employers should assist with an employee transfer as much as possible. If the employee is completely relocating due to company requirements, offering to pay for goods to be transferred or simply introducing them to staff members in a new office helps towards easing the transition.
The contents of this article are necessarily expressed in broad terms and limited to general information rather than detailed analyses or legal advice. Specialist professional advice should always be obtained to address legal and other issues arising in specific contexts.