Employers are routinely faced with the challenge of figuring out how to meet the productivity and financial goals of the company with less money and even less staff.
Couple that with keeping employees stimulated in their roles and it all seems like a herculean task.
Cross training staff is a simple but strategic way to maintain and even increase productivity while developing your employees. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about the training process. This type of training when done right will:
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- Showcase your employees’ ‘hidden’ talents
- Build excitement around learning new skills which bolsters employee morale and employee engagement.
- Increases job satisfaction
- Improve the customer/client/employee experience. When you have more staff who are ‘experts’, it makes it much easier to meet the needs of your customer base.
- Improve internal processes and procedures; (give staff more autonomy, decrease wait times, or eliminate red tape).
- Save your company money
But cross training when implemented for the wrong reasons can have the opposite effect and make employees feel taken advantage of; a morale killer. Don’t cross train if your end goal is to:
- Pile on extra work to existing staff to the point where they are overworked and stressed out.
- Save on external training costs
- Decrease salary and benefits costs
- Use cross training as a way to circumvent hiring and promoting staff based on the scope of their work and level of responsibility.
Saving money is not taboo when operating a business, but it cannot be the sole reason for training your staff in a variety of areas within your business. You should always approach training strategically by determining if training will help with staff professional development and job satisfaction. Determine how cross training will positively impact your business and improve the customer experience.
Being strategic also means communicating with your employees about how cross training will boost their career development and make the business more efficient. Be sure to be transparent about your expectations and any changes in their workload.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that part of the strategy around cross training may be that you take away those tasks that are not an efficient use of time or that do not add any real value to the business. The goal is not to pile on more work but to increase efficiencies and resources while developing staff.
A cross training initiative that is well planned can be a win-win for all.
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