A SECONDMENT IS a temporary transfer of an individual from one part of the organization to another for a short period of time, usually for up to a 12-month period (CIPD, 2014). On occasion, secondments can also be arranged between different organizations. A defining feature of the secondment is that the employee's substantive post will be held for them until the end of the temporary contract, but it can be filled on a temporary basis until the secondment ends and the employee returns to their original position. Arrangements such as this can be beneficial for the employee, the original employer and the new employer.
A secondment can provide a short-term opportunity for an individual to gain experience in a different role. In the case study below, both employees had worked in the same role for a number of years, but there were limited opportunities for promotion within the LKS. This short secondment enabled them to use their skills in a different way and to gain experience in a different role. Secondments can also provide opportunities to develop skills in new areas such as project management, leadership or web development which would enhance their future career prospects. Finally, the secondment offers security, enabling the employee to try out a different role for a short period of time, with the same terms and conditions and the knowledge that they will return to their original role at a later date.
In the current climate, there are fewer opportunities to promote existing employees, and a secondment arrangement can accommodate this to some extent. If the post which the seconded staff member leaves remains vacant, you may save money in the short term. However, careful consideration should be taken to ensure that remaining staff are not placed under additional pressure to cover the vacant post. In the case study below, the original secondment was for three months, but was extended, placing extra pressure on the remaining staff who covered the vacancy. Consider whether the temporary vacancy could be filled by other team members, providing development opportunities for other staff. Alternatively, the short-term post could be filled from someone outside the existing team, thus encouraging new ideas, approaches and perspectives.