Cross Training: Meaning And Benefits

Cross-training is becoming increasingly popular in the business world to improve efficiency, reduce worker fatigue, and increase employee satisfaction.

Although cross-training has been used in the athletic world for years, it’s something that many other businesses have not yet attempted. 

However, with the increasing technological advancements that we have today, this is something that most business owners would be wise to consider.

Depending on your business and the industry you are in, cross-training employees is an excellent option to consider.

The cross-training process is easy to implement, especially if you’re in charge of training new staff or assisting current members with new skills. 

So what is cross-training and its benefits? Read this article for an explanation of cross-training and what it means for businesses.

What is Cross-Training in Business?

Cross-training is a training or development technique in which employees in a single job category are trained to do the jobs of other job categories.

Cross-training is not a new concept. In many ways, it is a more detailed way of defining general job training. 

In cross-training, employees learn the tasks of other jobs. They learn the requirements and challenges of another job and the expected performance standards for each job. 

Employees who have been cross-trained typically take on the entire workload of another job without assistance.

This is an effective way to ensure that the workload is spread across the entire workforce and that no one part of the organization is understaffed.

SEE: Learn more about what a boot camp means

What are the Benefits of Cross-Training?

1. Increases workforce sustainability

If you have a large business, cross-training employees can be a significant investment, especially if you have experienced employees. The reason is that cross-training allows employees to work in multiple areas.

For example, if an employee gets sick or is on vacation, you can use that employee to cover for another employee who might be on vacation or sick.

Knowledge can never be lost if you cross-train workers in all the facets of your business.

Cross-training has the added benefit of making employees more versatile and better prepared for what may come in the future.

If you train employees to do other jobs, your organization will likely have better morale since employees will feel more confident about their work and benefits.

SEE: Discover the benefits of continuous learning at work

2. Employees are better able to collaborate

To cross-train the employees of a business, it is essential to train each employee in different departments and roles.

This will help build a staff that can work seamlessly together. Cross-training is a strategy that helps companies find out what their employees are good at and then use them accordingly.

For instance, you can train your employees to be efficient in every role, irrespective of their professions. Another way to train them is to train them in both technical and non-technical operations. 

You can accomplish this by letting one of your employees take over the duties of another in case of an emergency. In fact, businesses must train their employees to cross-train and train themselves.

Employees should be trained and encouraged to work with multiple departments and projects, thus making them more efficient and dedicated.

SEE: Understand collaborative learning 

3. Cross-training strengthens problem-solving skills 

Many companies and organizations recognize the benefits of cross-training employees with multiple jobs.

A workforce capable of handling many problems and has a quicker response time to today’s complex problems.

Furthermore, if businesses don’t require employees to cross-train with other departments, they may be disadvantaged in highly competitive environments.

Employees who undergo cross-training can perform multiple duties within the organization’s mission, enabling them to solve more problems. 

Their broad knowledge enables them to solve problems better since they are more aware of how their job relates to the overall workings of the organization. 

SEE: Explore problem-solving skills

4. Cross-training balances workloads 

One of the benefits of cross-training in business is that it allows you to balance workloads and staff.

By training several workers to do the same job, you can keep a department running smoothly no matter what happens to one worker. 

Cross-training takes teamwork to a new level as workers learn how to work together in times of crisis and uncontrollable situations. 

By adapting training to the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, the manager can assign problems that challenge their strengths and complement their weaknesses.

Therefore, each employee becomes better and more valuable to the company overall. 

5. Understand different perspectives – break mental barriers

Cross-training is a proven method for developing new skills outside your expertise. In business, cross-training helps to understand different perspectives, break mental barriers and build new relationships.

People create mental barriers when they do not see things from different perspectives. Cross-training promotes the idea of looking at different ways to solve business problems.

It also causes people to understand better what it’s like to be in the shoes of their coworkers. The more people understand their coworkers’ situations, the less those mental barriers will be an issue. 

Considering various implications from every angle allows you to be more open-minded and flexible.

It can significantly alter your point of view, as individuals with well-rounded knowledge can recognize patterns and trends in different things.

6. Identify skills that are in demand and untapped

 You have probably heard someone say you should cross-train your employees. This sounds like a valuable idea.

You also get the added benefit of utilizing the skills of the entire workforce since you deal with multiple people instead of just one.

After all, cross-training is intended to fill in skills gaps and identify latent skills that may have been developed outside the main job description.

You may also force employees to discover personal things about themselves by encouraging them to let go of their comfort zones. Imagine how this could benefit your business.

SEE: Explore top skills to learn

7. Help increase employee engagement and motivation

Employee engagement and motivation are important factors in keeping your employees happy and working hard at work.

This can be achieved through employee cross-training. Increasing their skillset and challenging them in different areas within their jobs will create intrinsic motivation for your employee. 

Doing this reduces their reliance on external rewards such as pay raises and bonuses for fulfilling work.

Furthermore, it makes employees more likely to be pleased with their work. This increases productivity and decreases the chance that they will be dissatisfied enough to look for jobs elsewhere. 

It can ultimately boost productivity and eliminate time spent on training new team members, as cross-trainers can quickly help out where they are needed. 

8. Cross-training increases individual team performance

Cross-training increases individual team performance because it gives people different perspectives on their jobs.

Also, each person will be able to do more when they take more responsibility for themselves and are responsible for more. 

People become more confident as they learn new skills and feel they know more solutions to solve problems. Therefore, they gain better control over their lives in their professional setting.

Organizations that use cross-training training programs typically find individuals who experience increased skill development, job performance, and job satisfaction.

9. Great return on investment

Cross-training doesn’t just help employees develop skills and stay engaged, flexibility can save companies money.

The real business case for cross-training is reducing turnover; all human capital management practices that reduce turnover increase ROI. 

Additionally, having access to a larger pool of candidates who know your culture and work environment will make filling positions easier.

Cross-training saves time, money, and energy. One of the least-budgeted areas in most organizations is the training department. 

After all, getting someone on board with the idea that investing in skills means they’ll save time, money, or energy later is not always easy.

However, with cross-training, you can transform your business while saving money and streamlining your operation so it will run like a well-oiled machine.

10. More internal promotions, which reduces recruiting costs

From a strategic perspective, cross-training on the job makes sense because it provides additional benefits for your company. As with personal improvement, it can also help businesses become more efficient.

If you are looking for more internal promotions in your company, inviting a little inside competition might be a good idea. 

Managers consider an employee’s performance quality when determining whether to promote them.

Cross-trained employees have a higher chance of promotion through initiative since it proves their capability to handle multiple tasks successfully. 

Cross-training regularly helps foster employee initiative, and initiative is what leads to innovation, which in turn fosters internal promotions.

This way, companies spend less money recruiting for new positions and can look for potential leaders from within.

SEE: Understand what a backfill position means

11. Creates a competitive advantage amongst competitors/industry

In today’s competitive workplace, cross-trained employees give you the ability to innovate and be more competitive.

A diverse group of employees allows them to do more than their day-to-day job, making them more valuable to your company.

Consistently successful companies have a competitive advantage over their competitors. One of the advantages is their ability to be nimble and flexible when products or services have to change.

This is due to a straightforward fact: cross-training within an organization creates a nimbler, more flexible organization. 

Whether you are talking about a company, school, or sports team, cross-training is necessary to remain competitive.

SEE: Learn how to understand and outsmart your competitors 

12. Expand business options and opportunities

A business can’t grow by focusing on one area of the business. In fact, keeping your focus too tight can harm your business’s growth.

Trying new things can provide a significant opportunity to expand your horizons and increase the reach of your business. 

If you have experienced employees with broad skills, include them in decision-making processes regarding new opportunities.

Cross-training enables companies to capitalize on new market demands as they emerge. This keeps the business ahead of its competitors. A great example is the US military.

Having soldiers trained in different areas such as logistics, computer technology, medical training, and so on allows them to deal with any crisis they may encounter. 

FAQs

How are cross-training programs structured?

The structure of cross-training programs varies, but generally, the participants attend meetings, during which they brainstorm ways to improve their divisions. They then carry out those projects and present their results to the rest of the company. 

As part of your company’s cross-training program, you may rotate employees through different departments each year for a set period of time or have them switch roles entirely.  Whatever you decide, it is up to you.

What results have companies achieved with cross-training?

Companies that practice cross-training report improved morale and better customer service, as well as cost savings. In addition, cross-training can be a strong recruiting tool as it can help employers attract employees who want to broaden their skills and abilities.

How can employers get started with cross-training in business?

If you’re new to cross-training, start by creating a plan. The keys to an effective cross-training program are organization, preparation, and consideration of all possible outcomes.

Businesses can start by looking at their business needs. Before cross-training begins, business leaders should know what they want to accomplish with the program, and this will make setting employee goals easier.

Final Thoughts 

Cross-training is when employees are taught new skills within a business. This can be anything from learning new software to learning how to use new machinery. It is becoming increasingly popular as businesses realize that by training their employees, they are less likely to have to pay for costly replacements when one leaves. 

It will also help businesses innovate and develop new products or provide better services to customers. With cross-training, employees do not have to worry about being redundant because of management changes or product changes. Businesses and their employees both benefit from cross-training, so it’s worth looking into.

Also, you should check out the article on employee training. In the article, you’ll learn why it is a pivotal tool for increasing organizational productivity. Finally, if you’re an employer, you should check out the article that highlights the important training employees must undergo.

Thanks for reading.