Cross training employees is a business trend that seems to become more and more popular as time passes. As a business strategy, cross training has many advantages and just a few disadvantages, but overall is a trend that helps both the company and its employees and as such it’s worth considering. The pros, in most cases, will clearly outweight the cons of cross training your employees.

Pro: Cross-Training Reduces Need For Temporary Staff

If your employees can fill in for each other this could save you from having to hire part time or temporary staff to fill gaps. People will be able to jump in and keep things running, even if the tasks required are outside their usual remit. In case one of your employees is away from the office or quits unexpectedly, cross training employees means the downtime will be shorter even if recruiting a replacement takes a while.

Con: People May Become Unfocused Or Overworked

On the other hand, if you end up expecting people to cover for people on leave, or sick leave, they may end up lacking the time to do their own job, or working too many hours. This is negative both long and short term, as you may end up having to recruit to replace people who leave due to the excess of informal responsibilities they are handed.

Pro: It Increases Team Bonding

By definition, cross training encourages collaboration and team bonding. Employees will know what the others are doing, and how other people in the business contribute to the overall effectiveness of the team. At the same time, by cross training employees you enable them to support each other better. New and better collaboration ideas happen when employees have a better understanding of the overarching businesses processes.

Pro: It Makes Employees Happier

Training adds value to an employee, and cross training gives them a chance to learn new skills and add different types of tasks to their work experience. Increasing morale means your employees will be more productive in the long run, and personal development makes them less likely to jump ship and abandon your company.

Pro: It Challenges Employees And Allows Them A Break

Cross training is a challenge, and it’s also a break from the monotony of the job which most employees will appreciate. Encouraging employees to trade places with others and change their job description for a day means they will be refreshed and more engaged when they come back to work on their regular job the next day.

Pros: It Encourages Communication

If you allow employees to cross train each other you will be increasing the communication levels at your company without having to spend money finding a trainer. At the same time, it allows your staff a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and it can help you discover potential managers and motivate employees in terms of personal growth.

Cons: Cross Training Employees Takes Time

It is difficult that somebody whose primary job is different from the position they are cross training for is as effective as the original occupant of the role, and training most people will take time diverted from regular business duties. If your company already allocates time for training this shouldn’t be a problem, but in small businesses it can be disrupting.

Pro: Insurance For An Employee Leaving

If an employee leaves abruptly, particularly if their notice period is short or the break is not amicable, it can cause a lot of disruption. If you have cross trained your employees ahead of time, that disruption is minimised. For instance, another employee could slide into the vacant position and handle the hand over much easily as they are already familiar with it. This minimises the scramble to find ways to keep things running when a key player in the company leaves.

Cross-training your employees is a sound business strategy that benefits your employees and the business at the same time. It can keep things running in case of absence of a key employee, and it will reduce disruption in case somebody leaves. At the same time, cross trained employees get to see more of the business than their job description, acquire useful personal and communication skills and can have a chance to develop their leadership skills when training others in their job. Compared with this, the cons of cross-training employees are minimal and can be sidestepped with good planning and organisation.

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