In fitness, cross-training is a method for strengthening different muscle groups for the purpose of improving overall body performance. Cross-training need not be just weight training or lifting; it is about varying exercises to enhance overall be about flexibility and locomotion, balance and movement. Any health and well being expert will say cross-training is the best way to maintain core strengths while not overtaxing any single part of the body.
The same aspects of cross-training apply to business as well.
As a business owner, think of your Company as the body, your employees as muscle groups, and their skills and output as the things to cross-train. The goal of cross-training in business is to equip employees with diverse skill sets, to enable them to execute other jobs and responsibilities, so that the Company operates most efficiently and is better prepared in the eventuality of turnover or, more positively, growth.
Here are four important reasons why cross-training employees is important:
Motivates and energizes employees.
Cross-training can be extremely motivating in that employees will see a value in being able to do other tasks. This is especially relevant for those who view their current position as a “stepping stone” or who seek “new opportunities within the company.” They will be greatly energized by the occasion of learning something new. Employers can gauge an employee’s commitment and potential as well: if the person seems aloof or uninterested in cross-training, there may be no long-term viability to their employment. The best cross-trained employees will demonstrate a willingness to try new things, thus uncovering hidden skills or talents that may not be used in their current role.
Guarantees continued productivity if/when employees are absent.
Employee absenteeism can often throw even the best-run company into a panic. Not having another person on staff to fulfill the duties of an employee who is out of office, for any period of time, can be detrimental to several critical aspects of the business. The situation can be even more urgent if an employee (or employer) terminates employment abruptly, throwing off workflows and operations and demanding others fill in on short notice. Productivity needs to be maintained, period. Cross-training allows for employees to perform multiple jobs, not just the one they were hired to do, so that work can be executed with minimal disruption. Employees who are cross-trained will embody the “Next Person Up” mentality and keep your business running and clients satisfied.
Saves money on temporary staffing agencies.
Although businesses can rely on temporary staffing agencies, it is not always ideal to do so. Think of the frantic morning call made to the agency when you’re in need of a good IT professional or administrative support staff. Temp workers will not understand the culture of your company nor the way jobs are performed. The learning curve can be steep, and often there is no time to properly train them. More so, temp workers can be expensive! It is far more efficient with less stress to have an in-house, cross-trained staff member ready to do the job!
Enables business owners to “promote from within.”
Cross-training provides employees with an opportunity to grow within a company and assume greater responsibility. When you train employees on new skills, you not only reduce your time and expenses associated with recruiting and hiring, you also provide an environment in which employees can be more easily retained and who will demonstrate a greater interest in your company’s long term success.
Cross-training is a success strategy embraced by many business owners with positive results for both the employees and the company alike. Make sure to carefully create your cross-training plan with due consideration for the workload and productivity requirements for the positions involved. Employees that need to do two jobs when someone is absent can become overwhelmed and disenchanted about the “opportunity” and this can undermine your positive outcome.
Read More: Cross-Training — An article written many years ago, but still relevant today.