Running a small business can be unpredictable, and if you want to accomplish more work with fewer workers, cross-training employees is a great way maximize your team. Cross-training is the practice of teaching employees to do multiple jobs so they can shift jobs when needed, helping to reduce costs, increase productivity, lower turnover, and improve employee morale. Cross-trained employees often feel that their jobs are valued and that they contribute more to the company with their knowledge of different systems.
I am going to discuss four key benefits your business will receive when you design a cross-training program to prepare your employees to be able to do more than a single job.
Creates a Culture of Collaboration
Cross-training helps build a company culture of collective success. When employee teams encounter challenges together and use their shared pool of knowledge and skills, they build camaraderie and take pride in the success of the business. Working together and appreciating each other’s skills builds trust and commitment within a team and encourages them to continue to support each other in new ways in the future.
Cross-training involves teaching an employee who was hired to for one particular job the skills required to undertake the duties for another job. Like in exercise, when you mix different activities into a regular workout, you balance the development between muscle groups, avoid injuries, and prevent boredom. Cross-training in the workplace has the same effect as employees become skilled at tasks outside of their usual job, gaining knowledge and skills that benefit them as they become a greater asset to the company.
Cross-training programs increase employees’ skill sets, reveal hidden talents, and can offer insight for advancing the goals and objectives of your company, making it more agile and responsive to the industry.
Cross-training employees gives you the ability to fill jobs during absences, vacations, and peak demand periods, saving costs from hiring and training temporary workers or new employees. Employees are a valuable asset in small businesses, making it even more important to make maximum use of employees’ skills and talents. If only one employee knows everything about a procedure and they call in sick, having another employee with the same expert knowledge who can stand in will make your business more sustainable, even in times of crisis.
Keeps Employees Engaged
Employees who are cross-trained are less likely to become bored compared to when they have to perform the same tasks every day. Learning and practicing new skills is a challenge and keeps work interesting. And working in different areas, employees will become empowered to make collaborative decisions with other people. Cross-trained employees are more likely to take the initiative, teach each other as needed, and work together to achieve satisfying results. They enjoy their jobs more, are more confident, and make better coworkers.
Implementing the Program
Implementing a cross-training program during a crisis will only create stress and cause employees to leave. To be effective, the program must be carefully planned and organized. It is important to determine who will be eligible for cross-training, whether the training will be mandatory or voluntary, and whether it will be restricted within job classifications or open to other classifications. Next, decide which procedures and tasks that would benefit the most from cross-coverage and then choose the staff members that are the best fit.
It’s a good idea to have participating employees review the lists of tasks and procedures so they can identify what they already know how to do, what they are interested in, and what they would be willing to learn if necessary. The feedback you receive will give you valuable information to help determine who are the most competent and interested in cross-training. It’s a good idea to inform everyone who will be impacted by a cross-training program to avoid rumors that their job may be in jeopardy. Let new recruits know that cross-training is a new addition to the company culture and assure the seasoned employees that it is not a management play designed to eliminate jobs.
In conclusion: A cross-training program empowers employees to provide support from within the company instead of hiring or outsourcing employees during hectic times. When employees believe they have the potential to improve within the company, they will be happier with their jobs and more willing to go the extra mile when needed. Employees will be more productive and feel more committed to the mission of the company.