Cross-training is a new way of training employees to perform tasks they usually do not undertake as a part of their regular job responsibilities. As a result, many companies are cross-training their employees to improve the company efficiency and help them undertake other tasks.
Cross-training has multiple benefits for the company. It helps the employees boost their versatility while also enabling the company to expect the unexpected. Hence, let us understand the concept of cross-training and seven practical ways of cross-training employees.
What is Cross-training?
Cross-training refers to the training provided to the employees in domains that are not a part of their daily duties. For example, consider a content writer who is commonly tasked with writing blogs for a company’s website. If the company is training that content writer to design the infographics widely found in the blogs, it is an application of the concept of cross-training.
Cross-training improves the employees’ skillset, resulting in a more skilled and productive workforce. It also helps make the organization more flexible by increasing the skill set of the employees with varied skills. Furthermore, it helps make the employees realize the different operations of the company, thereby increasing their engagement with their company.
Benefits of Cross-training
Cross-training has become popular in corporate culture due to the myriad benefits to the employees and the organization. It has helped the companies realize the potential of their employees and appreciate them better.
Let us consider the other benefits of cross-training:
The main benefit of cross-training is the improvement in the company’s efficiency. Cross-training or cross-skilling ensures that a task is completed even if a specific employee is absent since other personnel possess the necessary skills.
Having such kind of uninterrupted productivity is essential to maintain the workplace’s efficiency, and cross-training helps achieve it effortlessly. Since multiple employees possess the skills to undertake specific tasks, work would not be interrupted since the workforce resources can be remapped according to business requirements.
Due to cross-training, organizations gain a highly flexible and agile workforce that can be re-tasked with any duties as per the immediate requirements of the business. The employees would be capable enough to complete the tasks and undertake them efficiently due to their training as part of cross-skilling.
The added advantage of having a flexible workforce are numerous. Apart from quickly shifting your workforce, you can also help your employees find any hidden talents they might have.
Since the employees are trained on other tools and methods they do not use commonly; they feel valued by their company. As a result, they would have increased interest in their company. They would also recognize the importance of having multiple skills to rise on the proverbial corporate ladder and hence, be more invested in their company.
As a result, one can deduce that cross-skilling helps increase the engagement factor of employees with your company. It ultimately proves advantageous for your business as an engaged workforce is also a productive workforce.
Increased Team Bonding
Since the employees would be learning the skillset of their team-mates, they would be able to understand better the problems their colleagues face in completing their tasks. As a result, they can better empathize with them and help in finding more efficient ways to complete their tasks.
It increases team collaboration as the employees are aware of each other’s roles and responsibilities. Such a collaborative workforce is desirable for any organization as it helps complete tasks with increased efficiency.
Cross-skilling helps the employees gain new skills that could potentially open new doors for promotion. They may also find that the talent they are being trained on is better suited for their aptitude than what they are currently doing. As a result, they can even change their career path.
Having the option to change the career path also helps in internal mobility. The employees would have more opportunities to switch roles, and the managers can gain clarity as to which employees are suited better for which positions. Employees who are good at tackling multiple responsibilities can be promoted to reward them for being good at their work.
Practical ways to Cross-training Employees
There are multiple approaches that you can take to cross-train your employees. We are providing seven of the most practical ways below:
1. Define your cross-training goals
An essential step in defining a cross-training approach is to develop the goals that such a training system needs to fulfil. The entire cross-training strategy will be set depending on your goals during this process.
By defining the goals for the cross-skilling process, you are essentially setting the targets that you will achieve upon completion of the training program. Hence, it is crucial that you discuss the details with your training department and the HR team before setting it up.
2. Seek out willing candidates
Once you have defined the goals for the cross-training program, it is essential that you find the employees with the right mindset. For example, employees who have recently joined the company are yet to get accustomed to the various processes and are the perfect candidates for cross-skilling.
Additionally, it is a good idea to actively seek out the candidates willing to learn new skills and train them on the skillset they wish to learn. Open communication is vital in this stage of the cross-training process as it requires active participation from the employee.
3. Share the benefits of cross-training with your staff
Since there are no direct monetary benefits in the cross-training programs, it is essential to let your workforce know its multiple uses. You can help your employees understand the benefits of cross-training by providing short introductory videos on the topic.
Having introductory videos will help the employees understand the relevance of these training sessions and get them interested in the training. You can also highlight the fact that cross-skilling can help them learn new skills that can provide new opportunities for them and open new avenues for promotions.
4. Develop a robust cross-training schedule
Once you have convinced the employees to consider cross-training, the next step is to develop a robust schedule. Since the employee’s training needs to be undertaken, it should not mess with their work schedule. It should not eat into their productive time.
You should also ensure that the employees are not feeling exhausted due to the additional training. You should set a fixed time for training sessions after consulting with the employees and use modern technology to help them undertake the training sessions remotely if they wish.
5. Try to introduce a job rotation program
In several companies that implement cross-training, executing a job rotation program is common. Job rotation programs help periodically rotate the employees between their designations to help them understand and appreciate the different roles and responsibilities.
Having a job rotation program results in helping the employees to build their knowledge, reduce boredom in their workplace and develop a collaborative mindset. It is also vital to ensure that the rotation is long enough to let the staff get acquainted with their new role. Once they are good enough for that new role, it is good to switch them back to their normal role as you require their unique abilities to undertake their primary tasks.
6. Reward achievements based on cross-training
Once you have trained the employees and helped them become proficient with their new roles by switching them periodically, you should start tracking and rewarding their achievements. It enables you to understand the effectiveness of your training programs and helps you adjust your approach.
Because of such a rewarding mechanism, the employees would not feel overworked and exhausted. Instead, they would be happy about being able to contribute in multiple ways to their company. Hence, you should have an effective, rewarding strategy to reward the highest performing employees with bonuses, raises, and promotions if required.
7. Gather employee feedback
Collect employee feedback to understand how much your employees appreciate and are involved with the cross-training program. Having a place to voice their concerns regarding the cross-skilling program helps them get involved with the process and help in restructuring it if required.
It is also essential to make the necessary changes to the program as per the employee feedback to maximize the effectiveness of the activity. Without the active involvement of the employees, the cross-skilling activities would not be fruitful enough, and hence, you must ensure that they participate actively by gathering their feedback regularly and making necessary adjustments.
With the seven practical ways provided in this article, we are sure that you can begin your cross-training efforts starting today. Cross-skilling is an essential part of modern employee management, and the sooner you get on the bandwagon, the sooner you will be able to reap its various benefits, as highlighted above.
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