Tips to Perform an Employee Transfer

What is an Employee Transfer?

There are different definitions of employee transfers depending on who you ask. One definition states that an employee transfer is either a lateral or horizontal movement where responsibilities, status, and salary stay fixed. Under this definition, an employee can be transferred from one plant, position, shift, department, section, or job within the same place or to another.

An alternative definition of employee transfer is the shift of an employee from one position to another. These employee transfers are lateral and do not typically consist of major changes in responsibilities, skills, or salary.

A temporary or permanent transfer request may be submitted by an employee or an employer, depending on company policy. Typically your human resources department will manage the entire transfer process.

Why is Employee Transfer Used?

Employee transfers occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from career development opportunities to employee relations problems. Below are common reasons for employee transfers-

1. Discipline- A transferred employee could be the outcome of disciplinary action. Especially in federal occupations, employees may be transferred before they are considered for termination.

2. Conflict- If there is a significant issue in employee relations that results in workplace conflict, an employee may be transferred from one department to another. Usually this would only occur after employee one on one meetings with your human resources department failed to remedy the employee relations problem.

3. Development- Although there generally are not salary increases associated with employee transfers, business may transfer an employee to a different position as part of career development initiatives. Transfers can supply an opportunity to expand or hone employee skillsets, or a valuable employee may be used as a liaison between one department and another.

4. Adjustments- Due to an assortment of reasons, employee workloads and responsibilities may need to be modified from time to time. In most cases, transferring existing employees is more budget friendly than unnecessarily onboarding new staff members.

How to Complete an Employee Transfer

Developing an employee transfer process decreases the stress that is commonly associated with work transfers. Similar to an employee termination process, an employee transfer process should be evaluated by legal professionals to avoid lawsuits or noncompliance.

Best practice steps for formulating your business's employee transfer process include-

Standardized forms

Draft in-house forms for employees to complete during every transfer process. Forms should state all important transfer specifics and be signed by human resources and the individual employee as well as any other concerned parties.

Regardless if a transfer request was initiated by the business or employee, this form should be utilized consistently. Forms should reflect what type of transfer occurs, for example, if an employee is moving from one department to another or to another office location.

Annotate clearly if a transfer is intended to be temporary or permanent. Businesses that have international and domestic employees may need to complete additional paperwork to ensure compliance.

Formal meeting

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Schedule a formal employee one on one meeting to discuss the transfer process. Inform the employee about any changes in compensation, title, and duties. If there are any additional documents required, such as letters of recommendation, this meeting is a great place to collect them.

A transferred employee must know who to report to and where. Make sure to provide time at the end of the meeting for employees to request any additional information or give feedback about the transfer process.

Written Notification

If an employee will be under new management send out an official letter to all parties concerned. Depending on who was involved in the transfer process, letters may need to be sent out to multiple people.

Indicate whether the transfer request was involuntary or voluntary. Detailing salary agreements and other specifics can help assure employees about what to expect and ease stress levels.

Then, either designate a date for the employee to return the signed letter or a form to fill out to begin the process.


Offering assistance to a transferring employee can boost employee morale and loyalty. Simple tasks such as supplying moving boxes for office supplies can mean a lot to a staff member.

Let everyone at the office know about the transfer as well as any planned training time schedule for a replacement employee. If a transferring employee needs to train her replacement, make sure to provide sufficient time for her to do so.

Benefits of Employees Transfers

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Employee transfers can benefit both a company and its employees in many different ways including-

  1. Defusing employee relations issues
  2. Career development opportunties
  3. Redistribution of workload
  4. Avoidance of nepotism or favorism
  5. Increased collaboration potential
When performed correctly, transfers can increase productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness in the workplace. Althoug the transfer process may initially appear to be intimidating, following these best practice tips can help streamline the entire transfer process.

Key Takeaways

  • An employee transfer can be a lateral or horizontal movement where generally responsibilities, salary, and status do not change.
  • Reasons for initiating a transfer range from workforce adjustments to development opportunities.
  • Whenever you transfer employees make sure to use a standardized transfer process including documentation and meetings.
  • Even offering employees one simple favor to assist in their transfer can make all the difference. For example, suppling moving boxes for a cross-country move.
  • Benefits of transferred employees can include improved employee relations and collaboration potential.