It doesn’t matter what size your business is, cross training employees is beneficial to everyone. If you take the lead from sports cross training and move it into the business realm you will see the similarities. When athletes combine exercises and drills from differing sports they gain strength and flexibility in muscles not normally used in their own sport. Typically with cross training they strive for and realize improved fitness, injury prevention, quicker recovery, and a boredom buster. If you think about it, the same goes for cross training employees. Employers will see benefits emerge when their team is knowledgeable and skilled in different departments.
The Benefits of Cross Training
When developing a cross training plan, keep in mind that the results are multi-faceted. Improvements are realized on the employer, client and employee side. On the employer side you see job enlargement; with more employees learning and understating the full scope of the company and its various working components. On the client side, they achieve a full strategic understanding of their needs as it relates to how effective their company can be. On the employee side they receive job enrichment and feel empowered. It’s the epitome of a ‘win-win…win’ situation.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the benefits on all sides.
For the Employer
With cross training, employers are better able to recover from disruptions and handle transitions easily. Employees are better equipped to step in to help when shorthanded.
Employers may uncover hidden talents with cross training. Not only do employees learn and grow, but some step up to become leaders with a new found direction.
Cross training is a time when employees learn from each other. Mutual respect generates; bonds are formed. When employees feel bonded, attitudes shift as well.
Higher Productivity and Efficiency
A bi-product of cross training is the improved processes that come when teamwork fosters change. As departments/employees work together deficiencies are recognized with fresh eyes and addressed with fresh minds.
Younger employees want an opportunity to grow personally as well as professionally. Cross training provides them with the promise of new skills, plus the potential for growth within the company.
Once employees are cross trained it can mean that less staff needs to be hired. As employees perform more functions, costs may decrease while efficiency increases.
For the Client/Customer
The client needs immediate help. A core team member is down with the flu. Cross training alleviates the delay in response, as others are able to jump in to address needs immediately.
No Stranded Customers
Cross training employees helps reduce unhappy customers. Especially in a retail environment, the ability to help a customer in another department could be the difference between a sale and a walk out.
Employees with advanced knowledge throughout the company can provide valuable and fresh ideas for solutions to customer/client issues. The more they know the better equipped they are to offer constructive propositions.
For the Employee
As we mentioned earlier, cross training employees may help discover rock stars. While some may then advance into higher positions within their own department, others may find they excel in a completely different position.
Job satisfaction is extremely personal and means different things to different people. However, employers have noticed that cross training employees brings about a happier environment, thereby decreasing boredom and inactivity while increasing productivity and value.
Develop New Skills
Cross training allows employees to expand their professional, technical and people skills, making them a better all-round employee and professional. In turn, they feel more confident and valuable to their employer.
Build Teams and Relationships
Every employer wants to foster an atmosphere of teamwork, and cross training employees is a way of attaining that. It gives employees the chance to form new relationships and in turn everyone benefits.
When an employee is confident with their position in the company their ability to take charge and do more elevates. This increase in motivation comes from learning new skills that foster advancement, which to the employee says that the company truly cares about them.
As you can see, cross-training employees can be an effective approach to strengthening your organization and improving performance. The bottom line is that cross-training reduces risks and improves employee engagement and satisfaction. So, be proactive and think creatively about cross-training employees in your organization.