Cross-Training Staff: What You Need to Know

Cross-Training Staff: What You Need to Know

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Cross-training staff is one of the best ways to retain top talent and keep your business scalable. 

By investing in a comprehensive cross-training program, your business will likely be better positioned to adapt to market changes, cover absences or vacancies, and cultivate a culture of continuous learning and job satisfaction.

Let’s look at everything you need to know about cross-training to reap the benefits of ongoing staff development.

Why You Need to Cross-Train Staff

Skill diversification allows you to create a work culture where employees see a future and feel more valued. 

You can groom future managers and motivate employees who see room for advancement. Cross-training allows employees to set goals and gain the skills they need to meet them. As a result, you retain employees who have invested time and effort in their skills development, reducing churn. 

Top talent is attracted to cultures that value collaboration, leveraging skills, and empowering employees to control their careers. Your production and operations experience less strain when someone is away or resigns. Additionally, cross-training is valuable to train future leaders—you can see how they adapt, how quickly they learn, and can clarify who would be good for the next role.

This alleviates pressure on individuals and managers while maintaining consistent production levels. Finally, your management and HR teams can identify skill sets to help set career goals and find growth opportunities, adding to engagement and worker motivation.

Use Cross-Training to Create a Better Culture

When new hires know from day one that they will learn new skills and contribute to the company in more meaningful ways, you create a better culture. 

A healthy team-oriented culture attracts top talent looking for a workplace where they are valued and have choices. You erase the “that’s not my job mentality” and create a culture where people see opportunities instead of feeling burdened. 

Everyone is involved, so you can be prepared for any scenario, and no one person ever carries the brunt of the work when you are short-staffed. Employees also avoid boredom, working in different areas of the business, expanding their skills and experience while contributing more to the company.

Overcome Pushback

Despite the positives, existing employees often resent cross-training. 

In fact, many view training as an excuse for employers to have them do more work for the same pay. You can avoid this mindset by ensuring someone in a lower-paying job doesn’t train for and be expected to perform the duties of a much higher-paid individual. Instead, find opportunities to leverage unused skills so people can shine and put their talent to better use. 

Also, make it clear employees will develop skills to use both within the company and elsewhere to help them further their careers. Finally, avoid focusing on training one or two people, as they will take on the brunt of the workload and face burnout, so you’re back to square one.

Steps to Successful Cross-Training

There are a few steps to make cross-training effective and successful, including:

  • Identify critical tasks for each area of your business so you know what functions need to be taught to fill gaps
  • Identify the employees best suited to cross-train and what areas make the most sense to apply their existing skills and enhance them to improve efficiencies
  • Avoid cross-training employees in positions where stepping into other roles will disrupt operations
  • Find opportunities to fill skills gaps in the organization
  • Create formalized training programs in the key areas you have identified and integrate those programs using your current training tools
  • Reduce the workload for those entering training programs to ensure the process does not overburden them once training is complete
  • Offer an opportunity for people to volunteer for cross-training once the program is up and running
  • Budget for cross-training so you see the most ROI for the program  
  • Use cross-training to spot career opportunities and set career paths

Cross-training creates organizational flexibility and overcomes common operational challenges. By building a stronger, more diverse team, you can tackle special projects, accommodate common staff shortages, and create a more productive environment.  

About Focus HR, Inc.

Focus HR, Inc. uncomplicates the people side of business by providing small business owners with outsourced HR, project HR, and Leadership Coaching. For more information, please contact us today! If you liked this post, please subscribe to our blog. You can opt-out at any time. To learn more about FocusHR and for updates, please like our Facebook page and follow us on LinkedIn.