Be Prepared: Cross-Train Employees

June 22, 2023

Employees for any number of reasons might be absent from work for a short or long period of time whether they physically work at the company’s location or work remotely. Likewise, employees may quit for a variety of reasons...recruited by another business, health, family situations, or moving to another city. Is your company prepared when this situation develops? Who steps in for the absent employee? Is efficiency reduced because of the absence? What effect does an absence have on sales and overall employee morale if additional work is pushed onto other employees? The answer is cross-training of all employees and positions.

Tool for Continuity

Cross-training is a powerful tool that businesses can use to ensure continuity, increase employee productivity, and add to job satisfaction. It involves training (transferring and sharing knowledge and skills from one employee to another). By training employees with new knowledge and skills, businesses can reduce the risk of work stoppages when an employee is absent, improve customer service, increase employee engagement, and maintain operational efficiency. With a knowledgeable and diverse workforce, a business creates a more resilient team of employees that is better prepared for unexpected circumstances.

Improved Efficiency

Businesses that have ongoing cross-training of employees better utilize their resources since employees become more productive by learning new skills that can be applied to their current roles as well as other roles that they might have to step into either on a temporary or permanent basis. When employees have the opportunity to learn more about other job functions in a business, they tend to 

feel more valued, appreciated, and secure in their employment. Additionally, cross-training helps to reduce the risk of job burnout by providing employees with more variety in their daily tasks while being cross-trained. By encouraging employees to take on new challenges and learn from each other, businesses can create an environment of growth and development that benefits everyone and, ultimately, the company.

Develop a Program

A business of any type and size can and should implement a cross-training program, which is an essential part of a company’s long-term success. A cross-training program can be created by doing the following:

·       Identify training needs

·       Create a curriculum (what will be trained)

·       Select appropriate trainers (can be as simple as employee to employee)

·       Measure the impact of the program periodically for changes 

Maximize Outputs 

When an effective cross-training program is in place, a business can ensure that it remains successful, efficient, and helps employees reach their full potential. 

Just imagine if a business never lost any momentum or efficiency because there was always another employee to step in for an absent employee if necessary. Cross-training of employees is a goal that all businesses should consider to improve performance by preparing for the expected (or unexpected) absence one day of an employee.

When employees learn new skills that are not necessarily related to their particular job, they become more versatile in their role as an employee and more valuable to the business as a result of their cross-training. Obviously, cross-training is a business strategy that creates a more efficient and productive team, as well as fostering collaboration between different employees and departments. If your business does not have a cross-training program, now is the time start.

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