What Does Secondment Mean in a Job? Understanding the Benefits and Purpose of Secondment

We all know how tough it can be to land your dream job. But even after you’ve secured that coveted position, new challenges can arise that require you to broaden your skill set or gain new experience. One way to achieve this is through secondment – a common practice in many industries that involves temporarily moving employees to different departments or even different companies. If you’re considering secondment, or even if you’re not quite sure what it is, keep reading to learn more about how it can benefit your career.

Secondment essentially means being loaned out by your current employer to another organization for a set period of time. It’s essentially a win-win situation for all parties involved, as the employee gains valuable experience and new skills, the host organization gains extra resources, and the original employer benefits from a broadened skill set upon the employee’s return. Secondment can also take the form of short-term project work or temporary assignments, depending on the needs of both employers.

Of course, secondment is not without its challenges. Moving to a new company, department, or location can be a daunting prospect, requiring you to adapt to new people, ways of working, and organizational cultures. But for those who are willing to take the leap and embrace change, secondment can be a valuable opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. So if you’re considering a secondment or just want to learn more about it, keep reading to see how it works, what the benefits are, and what you can do to prepare for this exciting opportunity.

Different Types of Secondments

Secondment is a job arrangement where an employee temporarily moves to work for another company or department. This temporary assignment can be beneficial for both the employee and the employer, providing opportunities for knowledge exchange, skills development, and new experiences. There are different types of secondments, and each has its own unique characteristics. Here are some of the most common types:

  • Internal Secondment: This type of secondment involves an employee working in a different department or division within the same company. This can provide opportunities for cross-functional learning and career development.
  • External Secondment: In an external secondment, an employee works for a different company or organization, usually through a partnership or collaboration. This can provide opportunities for network expansion and exposure to new industries or markets.
  • International Secondment: This type of secondment involves an employee working in a different country. This provides opportunities for cultural immersion, language learning, and global business exposure.

The duration of a secondment can vary, ranging from a few weeks to several years. The terms of the secondment, such as compensation and benefits, are usually agreed upon by all parties involved before the assignment begins. Secondment agreements typically include a written contract outlining the terms and conditions of the arrangement.

The Benefits of Secondment for the Employee

Secondment is becoming a more popular option for employees to gain career development and broaden their experience and skills. Here are some of the benefits that secondment can offer:

  • Broadening horizons: Secondment gives an employee the chance to work outside of their usual team, department, or even country. This can provide new perspectives on the organization, industry, and working processes.
  • Boosting skills: Employees can learn and develop new skills in different roles and work environments. This can include communication, teamwork, problem-solving, leadership, and cultural awareness. These new skills can then be used when returning to the original position, or in future jobs.
  • Networking: Secondment can provide great networking opportunities with colleagues in other departments or even with clients. It can also open doors for future job opportunities and collaborations.

Secondment can also have benefits for the employee beyond the skills they acquire. Here are a few more:

Increased job satisfaction: The experience gained during secondment can help an employee feel more fulfilled in their job. They may also feel valued and recognized by the organization for being chosen for a secondment role.

Greater confidence: Working in unfamiliar surroundings can be stressful, but it can also help an employee become more confident in their abilities. This newfound confidence can translate into other areas of their life, increasing self-esteem and providing a better work-life balance.

Overall, secondment can have a positive impact on an employee’s career and personal development. It can provide new opportunities for growth and learning that may not have been available in their original role. If you have the chance to take a secondment, consider the benefits it could offer for your career path.

The Benefits of Secondment for the Company

Secondment is a process wherein an employee is temporarily assigned to work in another department or company, typically for a limited period of time. This arrangement provides various benefits for the company, such as:

  • Increased Flexibility: Companies can use secondment to temporarily transfer workers from one department to another to address short-term skill gaps, workload imbalances, or unexpected business demands.
  • Broadened Skillsets: Secondment exposes employees to different domains, perspectives, and working practices, allowing them to learn new skills, gain diverse experiences, and enhance their adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving abilities.
  • Enhanced Networking: Secondment offers an opportunity for employees to interact with different teams, departments, and stakeholders, building a broader network of professional contacts, promoting knowledge sharing, and improving collaboration between different parts of the organization.

Moreover, secondment can lead to better retention of employees. When a company helps employees expand their skills, experiences, and networks beyond their usual boundaries, it shows that the company values the employees’ growth and development, and is committed to nurturing their careers. This can increase employees’ engagement, loyalty, and job satisfaction, reducing the risk of turnover and associated costs.

Examples of Successful Secondment Programs

Several companies have implemented successful secondment programs that have brought tangible benefits for the organization and the employees. Here are some examples:

Company Secondment Program Results
Unilever The Unilever Future Leaders Program Developed top talent by rotating high-potential employees across different business functions, geographies, and brands.
Deloitte The Deloitte Global Volunteer Program Enabled employees to use their skills to make a positive impact on society by working on pro bono projects in different parts of the world.
Google The Google Engineering Residency Program Provided new engineering graduates with a two-year rotation program that exposed them to different areas of Google’s technical infrastructure.

These examples highlight how secondment can be used for various purposes, such as leadership development, social impact, and new graduate training, and how it can result in benefits such as talent retention, innovation, and social responsibility.

How to Negotiate a Secondment

Secondment can be a great way to enhance your career path by gaining valuable experience with a different organization, while still remaining with your current employer. Here are some tips on how to negotiate a secondment:

  • Understand your employer’s policies: Before negotiating a secondment, make sure you fully understand your current employer’s policies and procedures. This will help you better understand what’s permissible and help you prepare a persuasive argument for the secondment.
  • Gather information: Research the organization you want to be seconded to, and gather information about their culture, mission, and projects. Knowing this information will help you show how the secondment will benefit both parties, and show that you are genuinely interested in their organization.
  • Prepare your proposal: Approach your current employer with a well-prepared proposal outlining the benefits of the secondment for both parties. This should include a clear outline of the projects you will work on, the skills and experience you will gain, and how you will apply these skills upon your return. You may also want to include any costs associated with the secondment, such as transportation or housing, and how these will be covered.
  • Negotiate the details: Once both parties have agreed to the secondment, negotiate the details of the arrangement. This should include the length of the secondment, the responsibilities you will have during the secondment, and any financial compensation, if any, you will receive. Make sure all the details are included in a formal agreement that you and your employer sign.

Benefits of Negotiating a Secondment

The benefits of a secondment go beyond just acquiring new skills and experiences. It can also help you expand your network, build relationships with new colleagues, increase your visibility within the organization, and distinguish yourself as a valuable employee. Furthermore, it could lead to long-term career growth and new employment opportunities down the road.

Challenges of Negotiating a Secondment

While secondment can be a great opportunity for career growth, it also presents its own set of challenges. For instance, it can be difficult to balance the responsibilities of your current role while navigating a new work environment. Additionally, depending on your employer’s policies, you may need to navigate logistical issues such as transportation and accommodation. Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that not all secondments lead to permanent job offers, and the experience may not always live up to your expectations.


Pros Cons
-Gain new skills and experiences
-Expand your network and build relationships
-Increase visibility within the organization
-Distinguish yourself as a valuable employee
-Lead to long-term career growth and opportunities
-Balancing responsibilities of current role
-Logistical issues (transportation, accommodation)
-Not all secondments lead to permanent job offers
-Experience may not always live up to expectations

Overall, secondment can be a great way to enhance your career path and gain valuable experience. By following these tips and considering the pros and cons, you can effectively negotiate a secondment that works for you and your current employer.

Secondment versus Promotion: Which is Better?

When it comes to career growth and professional development, two common options that employees may consider are secondment and promotion. While both can provide exciting opportunities to learn new skills and expand one’s network, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of secondment versus promotion:

  • Secondment
    • Pros:
      • Opportunity to learn new skills: Secondment offers the chance to work in a different area of the company or even in a different organization. This can mean gaining exposure to new technologies, processes, and ways of thinking, which can enhance one’s skillset and make them a more versatile employee.
      • Broadened network: Working with new colleagues from different parts of the organization or different organizations altogether can help expand one’s professional network, opening up potential opportunities in the future.
      • Less pressure: While secondment may involve taking on new responsibilities, it typically doesn’t come with the same level of pressure and expectation that comes with a promotion. This can provide a “low risk” way to try out a new role or industry.
    • Cons:
      • Uncertainty: Because secondment often involves changing roles or organizations, there is a level of uncertainty about the future. For example, there may not be a guaranteed job waiting for an employee at the end of a secondment.
      • Discomfort: Being in a new environment and working with new people can be uncomfortable and sometimes stressful, especially if one is not used to change or has to deal with office politics.
  • Promotion
    • Pros:
      • Career advancement: Promotions are often seen as the next logical step on a career ladder, providing more responsibility, higher pay, and increased prestige.
      • Increased accountability: While promotions may come with increased pressure, they can also provide a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s work. Plus, with the added responsibility often comes more autonomy to make decisions and drive results.
      • Greater visibility: Being promoted can bring increased visibility and recognition for one’s contributions, which can lead to more opportunities later on.
    • Cons:
      • Risk: With a promotion comes greater expectations and pressure to perform. This can be especially difficult if one is not yet fully prepared or has to adjust to a new team or culture.
      • Less flexibility: Promotions often require a more structured role and a focus on specific goals. There may be less room to experiment with new approaches or to work on different projects outside of one’s core responsibilities.

    In summary, whether secondment or promotion is better depends on the individual’s career goals, preferences, and risk tolerance. Both offer unique opportunities for growth, learning, and development. It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option and to have a clear understanding of what it entails before making a decision.

    Secondment dos and don’ts for employees

    Secondment can be an exciting opportunity for employees to gain new skills, broaden their experience, and expand their network. However, it can also be a challenging and sometimes overwhelming experience if you are not fully prepared. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you make the most out of your secondment:

    • Do: Take the time to learn about the host organization and its culture. This will help you adapt quickly and build strong relationships with your colleagues.
    • Do: Communicate effectively with your supervisor and colleagues. Keep them informed of your progress, challenges, and feedback. Be open to constructive criticism and take feedback as an opportunity to improve.
    • Do: Set clear goals and expectations with your supervisor. This will help you stay focused and aligned with the objectives of the secondment.
    • Don’t: Overcommit or take on projects that are beyond your capacity. This can create unnecessary stress and ultimately compromise the quality of your work.
    • Don’t: Isolate yourself from your colleagues or the host organization’s culture. Take the initiative to participate in social activities and build relationships with your colleagues.
    • Don’t: Lose sight of your career development objectives. Secondment can be a great opportunity to gain exposure and skills, but it should not distract you from your long-term career plan.

    Finally, here is a table summarizing the dos and don’ts for your secondment:

    Do Don’t
    Take the time to learn about the host organization Overcommit or take on projects beyond your capacity
    Communicate effectively with your supervisor and colleagues Isolate yourself from the organization’s culture
    Set clear goals and expectations Lose sight of your career development objectives

    By following these dos and don’ts, you can make the most out of your secondment and turn it into a rewarding and valuable experience.

    Secondment dos and don’ts for employers

    Secondment is a popular way for businesses to share resources and expertise. It can benefit both the employer and the employee by providing a new experience for the employee and an opportunity for the employer to gain new skills and insights. However, a secondment can also present challenges for both parties. Here are some dos and don’ts for employers to consider when implementing a secondment:

    • Do make sure the employee is willing and able to be seconded. It is important to have a conversation with the employee about their goals and expectations for the secondment.
    • Do have a clear plan and purpose for the secondment. Make sure the employee understands what their role will be and what they are expected to accomplish.
    • Do provide support and guidance to the employee during the secondment. Check in regularly and provide feedback and resources as needed.
    • Don’t overlook the needs of the employee’s home team. Make sure they are adequately staffed and prepared for the employee’s absence.
    • Don’t neglect the legal and administrative details of the secondment. Make sure you have a written agreement that specifies the terms of the secondment.
    • Don’t forget about the employee’s career development. The secondment should provide opportunities for the employee to learn and grow in their career.
    • Do evaluate the success of the secondment. Reflect on what worked well and what could be improved for future secondments.

    The benefits of secondment for employers

    Secondments offer several potential benefits for employers, including:

    • Access to new skills and expertise that can improve business operations.
    • A means of retaining and developing talent within the organization.
    • Improved collaboration and knowledge sharing within the organization.
    • A way to fill temporary vacancies or staffing shortages without recruiting externally.

    Challenges of secondment for employers

    While secondments offer many potential benefits, they can also present challenges for employers, including:

    • The need for clear communication and expectations to ensure the success of the secondment
    • The potential disruption to the employee’s home team and the need to manage this effectively.
    • The legal and administrative work involved in setting up a secondment.
    • The potential cost of providing support and resources to the seconded employee.

    The legal aspects of secondment

    Secondment arrangements involve legal and administrative considerations, and it is important for employers to be aware of these when setting up a secondment. Some legal aspects to consider include:

    Legal aspect Description
    Employment contract The employee’s employment contract should be reviewed and updated to reflect the secondment.
    Tax and social security The employee’s tax and social security situation may change during the secondment, and this should be considered and managed accordingly.
    Immigration If the employee is seconded to a different country, there may be immigration requirements to consider.
    Intellectual property Intellectual property rights should be considered and addressed in the secondment agreement to avoid any disputes.

    By being aware of these legal considerations, employers can ensure that their secondment arrangement is legally sound and avoids any potential issues down the line.

    What does secondment mean in a job?

    1. What is a secondment?
    A secondment is when an employee is temporarily assigned to work in another department or organization. The employee is still employed by their original company, but they work for a different team for a set period of time.

    2. Why do companies offer secondments?
    Organizations offer secondments to provide new experiences, develop skills and knowledge, or to fill a gap in a team. It’s also an opportunity for employees to network with others and find different career paths.

    3. Who can go on a secondment?
    Any employee who has the necessary skills and experience can apply for a secondment. The employee may need approval from their manager, but it is ultimately up to the organization to decide who is selected.

    4. How long does a secondment last?
    The length of secondments varies depending on the organization and position. They can last from a few weeks to several years.

    5. Does an employee get paid during a secondment?
    Yes, the employee is still employed by their original company and will receive their regular pay. The company may also cover any travel or living expenses related to the secondment.

    6. Can an employee decline a secondment offer?
    Yes, an employee can decline a secondment offer. However, it may affect their career progression and opportunities within the organization.

    7. What happens after a secondment ends?
    After a secondment, the employee will return to their original team or department. They may also bring back new skills and experiences that can benefit their original team.

    Closing Thoughts

    We hope this article has provided you with a clear understanding of what does secondment mean in a job. Secondments are an excellent opportunity for employees to gain new experiences, skills, and knowledge that can help them develop professionally. As always, we appreciate your time and thank you for reading. Do visit again for more informative articles!