Cross-training means teaching employees how to perform multiple roles within an organization as opposed to just one. Benefits of this human resources strategy include greater worker flexibility, optimum job function coverage, a collaborative culture and improved morale.
Greater Worker Flexibility
When employees know how to perform many jobs in your business, the company and workers both benefit. The company benefits from a more versatile workforce with employees who can perform a variety of tasks. This flexibility helps minimize downtime when workers don't have a specific task to perform. For workers, flexibility and a broad skill set improves their overall value to the company and other potential employers. In organizations where employees perform physically demanding tasks, flexible task performance also mitigates injury risks from overuse of muscle groups.
Optimum Job Function Coverage
Job coverage is a benefit closely connected to worker flexibility. In a company with specialized workers, the absence of a single employee can damper productivity and lead to revenue losses. Cross-training guards against such negative effects when employees are sick, on vacation or quit unexpectedly, according to Forbes. If you have a critical job function left unattended, you can plug in a cross-trained worker who's working in a less pivotal role. Inc. magazine points out that the ability to have broader job coverage reduces costs from absenteeism as well.
Formal expectations that employees get cross-trained in two or more roles contributes to the effectiveness of a cross-training program.
A Collaborative Culture
Cross-training contributes to the evolution of a team culture, according to LC Staffing. This development occurs for two primary reasons. One is that workers adopt the mindset of helping the business perform well regardless of the duties required. The other is that knowing the responsibilities of many organizational roles can equip employees with more empathy and understanding of co-workers.
Improved morale is common in organizations that cross-train, Inc. reports. Cross-trained employees feel more valuable, and they are normally more secure in their roles within the organization. As a result of strong morale, productivity often increases and employee turnover decreases.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.