The term lateral job transfer refers to the assignment of an employee to a position with similar roles, responsibilities and rate of pay. A lateral transfer can occur for a number of reasons; oftentimes resulting in an opportunity for the employee to explore a new career path.
Also known as a lateral career move, a lateral job transfer allows an organization to place an employee into a position where they can add value. The flatter a company's organizational structure, the greater the likelihood an employee will be involved in a lateral transfer. These moves provide the employer with the opportunity to expose an employee to a new area without the offer of a promotion.
Since a lateral job transfer involves movement of an employee into a position of similar responsibilities, employees are typically not entitled to a raise in pay. Laterals are especially helpful if an employee has been in the same role for a number of years, and their enthusiasm for their job is fading. The move to a new role can provide the employee with a different prospective as well as the opportunity to learn a new skill.
Companies will oftentimes launch formal programs that track and identify candidates for lateral moves. These programs allow employers to build bench strength and improve employee engagement, since they provide the employee with a sense of career progression.