5 Reasons It's Good to Cross-Train Employees
HR managers can leverage the benefits of a cross-trained workforce in their organization.
Professionals in human resource management are charged with helping their organizations create a strong, sustainable workforce. As part of that, many HR managers are big proponents of cross-training employees. And its easy to see why.
In the world of sports, athletes use a variety of exercises to build different muscles and skills. This cross-training strategy helps make athletes faster, stronger, and less prone to overuse and injury.
In the workplace, cross-training involves teaching an employee who was hired to do one job function the skills he or she needs to perform other job functions.1 And it can result in benefits similar to athletic cross-training: a workforce that is versatile, agile, better performing, and less prone to burnout.
Here are five reasons to include cross-training as part of your human resource management strategy:
1. Workforce Stability
Sudden resignations. Sick leave. Long-term disability. Sabbaticals. As an HR manager, you will inevitably help guide your organization through these types of unforeseeable circumstances. When a human resource management strategy includes cross-training employees, organizations are better prepared to fill gaps quickly, stabilize workflow and productivity, and protect the bottom line—even in the face of unexpected workforce shortages.
2. Employee Growth and Development
Effective human resource management requires thoughtful and strategic employee development. Employees may come to you with a narrowly focused college degree and experience, but cross-training can expose employees to new opportunities and challenges beyond the jobs they were hired to do. This allows them to diversify their work experiences, expand their skill sets, and become more valuable contributors to their organization’s success today and in their future roles within the company.
3. Reenergized Employees
Most employees enthusiastically enter a position with hope they’ll have opportunities to add to their skills and advance their careers within the organization. However, when employees end up doing the same thing day after day, they may get bored and feel they are stuck in a dead-end job—which could lead them to seek career opportunities outside the company. As an HR manager, you can promote cross-training as a strategy to reinvigorate unmotivated employees, reassure them of their value, and position them for upward career mobility within the company—all of which will help you retain good employees.
4. Savings on Recruitment
If there’s one thing you’ll discover in your human resources career, it’s that recruiting new employees is expensive. When your human resource management strategy includes cross-training, you can create an internal pool of talent for filling open positions. Cross-training can better prepare employees to move up in their careers by transitioning into a different role or department within the company. When organizations hire internally, it saves money and time not only on recruiting, but also during the onboarding process, since the employee will already be up to speed on the company mission, policies, and culture.
An important part of successful human resource management is preparing your workforce to adjust and respond quickly to the natural ebb and flow of business. If you cross-train, you can expand employees’ capacity to temporarily jump into different roles or departments to provide extra support and balance the workload during particularly busy times. This can be an excellent alternative to outsourcing the extra work and can prevent overworking certain groups.
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