Organisations that endeavour to have competitive advantage over others in this day need to initiate strategies that maximise the full utilisation of their most valuable resource, human resource.
This may call for an organisation to have its employees acquire diverse knowledge about different operations of the organisation.
This brings us to the issue that I will focus on this week, the concept of cross-training employees. What really is cross-training? It is training an employee to do different parts of the organisation’s work. This would normally entail training employee A to do the task that employee B does.
Cross-training has many benefits for the organisation since it can be used in almost any position in any industry. Most organisations have begun to make strides to cross train their employees and have realised that the practice benefits both the organisation and the employees.
One of the benefits of cross-training employees is that office coverage is handled easily in situations where a staff member goes on vacation leave, sick leave or even times when they break for lunch.
This removes the burden of having the manager resort to hiring part-time or contract staff to cover up for the absent member. This could prove costly for the organisation both in monetary terms and time taken to train the hired staff members.
Thus having staff already trained will reduce the cost and resources needed to accomplish this.
Cross-training also has the potential of nurturing a team-oriented environment.
Employees are able to get a chance to see what others are doing by being encouraged to cross-train, thereby becoming involved with one another in supportive roles.
Having vested interest in the activities of fellow employees helps employees understand business processes which in turn improves both service delivery encourages collaboration.
Through cross-training, employees get the opportunity to learn new skills and it gives them diversified work experience. If an employee widens their area of operation, they are bound to appreciate the importance of the work of their colleagues which enables them to respect each other.
Organisational studies indicate that staff typically like to be challenged in what they do and cross-training provides a great opportunity to let them increase their profiency. This becomes a morale booster, which has the potential of increasing productivity in the long run.
Encouraging cross-training normally breaks monotony on the part of staff since they are able to switch tasks at any given time and cover up for someone, even for a day.
This ensures that service delivery is not disrupted during times when the unexpected affects fellow employees. Also by switching over to something new, it enables the employee to be renewed in the way they perform their designated tasks for the benefit of service delivery.
Cross-training can effectively enable the organisation cut on its training and developing budget since employees get the opportunity to train each other in their different roles.
Thus the burden of training is taken off the organisation having to find appropriate people to train and it allows employees a good opportunity to develop leadership skills. This can also be looked upon as a motivational tool to encourage employees to grow.
In a situation in which an employee abruptly quits, the inconvenience this could cause is greatly minimised since other staff members can easily fill in the void left because they would have been familiarised with other organisational processes.
This enables continuity and reduces down-time instead of forcing the organisation to scramble for alternatives to get the job done.
Cross-training your employees ultimately makes good business strategy because it is a proactive way to keep the organisation’s departments running smoothly in the event of a sudden movement of people.
Having knowledge of the jobs of others ensures that daily processes can be completed timely and customers or stakeholders remain satisfied.
Paul Nyausaru is training and development practitioner. Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Views contained in this article are personal.