It’s 6 AM and you have an important, large order due to be shipped by early afternoon. The customer is expecting their expensive order to be delivered on time and properly manufactured. However, the lead assembly worker has just called in sick. Because he is the only person trained to operate the new machine, you are now stuck in a problematical situation. The other members of the assembly line cannot do their job unless this machine is run. You spend most of the morning trying to learn the machine yourself. By early lunch, you have caught on. However, you know there is little to no possibility of this order meeting the 3 PM deadline. Meanwhile, your own paperwork, phone calls, e-mails, and even the payroll is untouched. You leave work feeling defeated, but ready for a change.
The new change comes in the form of cross training your employees. This means employee A will learn the basic job functions of employee B, and vice versa. Cross training offers many benefits to the employer including:
* Ability of employee A to step up in the event of employee B calling in sick
* Ability of employee A to provide coverage during employee B’s vacation days
* If a new employee is hired for a job opening, there will be an employee to offer training
* Employee A can assist employee B during especially busy times
* Production is not affected when one or two employees are absent
* Increased flexibility throughout the company
Aside from the internal business benefits, you will also see increased morale and productivity in the employees. Cross training offers many benefits to the employees, including:
* More skills and experience in your company
* Job flexibility
* Less boredom if you allow workers to exchange places from time to time
* Recognition in talents, skills, or interests that hadn’t been considered before
* Better appreciation of their coworkers’ responsibilities and job tasks
* Clearer understanding of production as a whole
Cross training your employees will ensure that your business can always run smoothly, even in one employee’s absence. However, it is important to wisely choose which employees to cross train. Some employees may be content with their job of 15 years and have little to no desire to learn new skills. Forcing them to do so could decrease their morale and productivity. Employees that have a general interest in acquiring new skills would be your best choice.
While some may feel that cross training leads to a plateau in job opportunities, this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, it could be the opposite. Some of the best manager candidates have a well rounded education and experience in many aspects of their companies. This can lead them to effectively manage a variety of jobs.
While some managers may not want to be bothered with “wasting” time training, you could consider doing cross training during a slow time. The benefits of taking the time to actually make several employees well educated in other aspects of your company will far outweigh the time that it takes to train them.
About Sozo Firm
Sozo Firm helps startup companies, small to mid-sized businesses & nonprofit organizations thrive through developing and implementing business optimization strategies. Our efficiency consulting addresses business processes, customer service, employees, marketing, public relations, and communication. Our internet strategy consulting addresses website usability, reputation management, social media, and internet marketing. Contact our senior consultant, Andrew Jensen, at 800.460.SOZO to learn how we can serve you.