Cross-Training Employees: Practical Tips for Your Organization

Cross-Training Employees: Practical Tips for Your Organization
Last Updated: November 20, 2023


Having skilled employees in a specific area is great, but its way better to have experienced employees in different areas of specialty. Imagine employees who are jacks of all trades and masters of all! It may sound too good to be true, but that is the reality of effectively implementing cross-training in your organization. Cross-training, also referred to as worker multi-functionality is the practice of training your people to work in several different roles or training them to do tasks that lie outside their normal responsibilities. It involves training and teaching employees to perform two or more roles, skills, or functions that may or may not be related to their current work. Cross-training encourages professionally well-rounded employees. Several benefits are attributed to cross-training.


Benefits of Cross-Training

Cross-training is certainly a competitive advantage for any organization. Not only does it benefit the organization, but it benefits employees at an individual level. Here are some of the numerous benefits of cross-training

1. Improves Employee Satisfaction


Employees often get bored and demotivated when they continuously have to do the same tasks. Cross-training might help your team stay motivated. People working in new roles can also discover talents, strengths, and skills they didnt know they had. This can lead to renewed excitement and self-discovery, resulting in reduced employee turnover.


2. Improve processes and workflow design

There are some great ideas for organizational, team or process improvement from cross-trained people, because theyre looking at a role or task with a fresh perspective.


3. Improves efficiency

Suppose each department is responsible for identifying valuable skills in a staff cross-training program. In that case, they will be compelled to consider what is most important and how to achieve it. This activity in and of itself increases efficiency, especially in small businesses where employees already have multiple layers of responsibility.


4. Builds Strong Teams

Cross-training encourages collaboration across departments and promotes strong teams. When team members can see and comprehend what the others are doing, they are much more likely to help when someone falls behind. Theyre also more capable of assisting others now that theyve learned what other team members do. Cross-training can boost team productivity, performance, and communication in general.


5. Enable you to react quickly to changing goals and business conditions–

A well-trained and flexible team can easily handle fluctuations in the workflow. Cross-training can help you deal with workflow bottlenecks. Cross-training employees can help reveal hidden talents, increase employees skillsets, and provide a springboard for advancing the goals and objectives of your company. Regardless of the size or industry, this makes your firm more nimble and responsive. It also gives you more flexibility in scheduling and filling last-minute vacancies.


6. Helps in Succession Planning

Cross-training can help in succession planning by providing training to potential candidates. This training gives employees much-needed exposure to the organization, which is critical in top positions. Cross planning can also reveal the candidates that are capable of promotion.


7. Great return on investment

Cross-training has been proved in numerous studies to reduce employee turnover and boost retention rates. According to Stephen Maclaren (Al Futtaim Willis Head of Regional Sales Employee Benefits), the average cost of a new hire is $30,000, but the expense of continuing to train an employee is only $1,500. As a result, cross-training can deliver a high return on investment for businesses.


Drawbacks of cross-training

While there are several advantages to cross-training, there are some disadvantages to it. Below is a list of some of the drawbacks that result from cross-training.


1. Employees may begin feeling overwhelmed

It is no surprise that employees may respond differently to the idea of cross-training. While some employees may feel energized by having to cross departments, others may feel overwhelmed and overworked. Employees may not want to execute tasks for which they were not employed, and a mandatory cross-training program can lead to resentment, burnout, and low morale. The quality of work from employees may begin to depreciate, which will negatively impact the organization. So it is important to be wary about this.


2. Loss of Focus

Cross-training necessitates a delicate balance between the importance of deep, specialized knowledge and the ability to be a jack of all trades. This may be a great disadvantage to the organization as employees can no longer focus on a specific area and no longer have time on their specialty areas.


How to design an effective cross-training program

How to design an effective cross-training program


The trick to having an effective cross-training program is to have a well-thought-out design for the training program. Before planning a cross-training program, you must ask yourself questions demonstrating the objectives you want from the cross-training program.


1. Define your goals

Define what you want to gain from the training. Some questions you can ask yourself when you are defining your goals include:


Identify tasks to cross-train on

These tasks are usually things that are critical in the functioning of the business


2. Find good cross-training candidates

It is important to identify candidates who are excited to learn new things and who quickly get bored doing the same tasks,


3. Highlight the Benefits

It is important to make it clear to employees what the benefits of cross-training are, these may include professional growth and career progression


4. Create a cross-training schedule

The training must be done in an orderly way, so a schedule must be done


5. Track and Reward Achievement

Ensure that employees who are performing are publicly rewarded


6. Collect employee feedback and continue improving

Get feedback from employees about how they feel about the training program


Mutsawashe Musvaire is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.

Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950

Mobile: +263 782 415 973


Mutsawashe Musvaire

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