11 Reasons Why Cross-Training Employees is BeneficialWritten by Madisyn Villamil
Reasons why cross-training is beneficial are plentiful. Cross-training benefits companies and employees by preparing them to overcome unexpected challenges and helping them become more efficient.
The last few years have taught us employees and employers should prepare for unprecedented changes. Training employees on skills and procedures outside their day-to-day roles creates an agile, adaptable workforce and protects companies from failing in challenging times.
Let’s take a closer look at cross-training and 11 reasons it’s beneficial for your company.
What is Cross-Training
Cross-training gives employees the knowledge and skills to perform tasks outside their roles. It aims to build a team of multi-skilled individuals who better understand the organization as a whole and can keep it running smoothly during unexpected changes.
An example of cross-training is having a few members of your sales department train your accounting team on sales cycles. If someone on your sales team resigns, you can have one of your accounting team members take over some of their duties until the position is filled. Aside from the disaster-recovery aspect, your accounting team also gains a better understanding of business processes and how the sales department works.
More informal cross-training could involve an employee asking someone outside their department for help with a task or an employee showing a coworker what they do in their role and why.
Cross-training isn’t a one-and-done effort but rather a blend of formal and informal training efforts that are ongoing and intentional. For cross-training to be successful, leaders and learning & development (L&D) professionals should promote it daily as part of the company’s corporate learning strategy.
11 Reasons Why Cross-Training is Beneficial For Your Company
Ever feel like each department is engrossed in its own world, with little understanding of how other departments affect them and contribute to the business? You’re not alone. Especially in larger corporations or remote teams, building relationships and collaborating across departments can be challenging.
Cross-training encourages collaboration by allowing employees to train coworkers outside of their departments. Through cross-training, employees can foster relationships with coworkers they’ve never met. They’ll also learn each other’s strengths, so they know who to approach with certain questions in the future.
Exchanging critical information across your workforce enhances your organization’s collective ability to solve problems. Cross-training promotes knowledge sharing by breaking down barriers between departments and encouraging them to impart their knowledge and skills to others. In fact, 74% of L&D leaders agree that L&D has become more cross-functional.
Humans innately love to learn from each other, and learning from other employees’ experiences will help your workers reuse solutions and processes that are proven to work and avoid those that aren’t.
Fosters a Problem-Solving Mindset
Acquiring new skills and knowledge during cross-training instills confidence and understanding of how business processes relate to one another and, ultimately, helps reveal solutions to business challenges.
Problem-solving is critical to business longevity, especially in today’s competitive landscape. We all know the best way to solve problems is to work together.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
— Edward Everett Hale
By encouraging collaboration and promoting knowledge sharing, cross-training creates unique opportunities for experts in different areas of your business to work together to solve problems.
Improves Agility and Adaptability
Employees realize learning new skills is crucial to career success and agility and they’re eager to receive training. A 2022 study found that 49% of employees want to develop their skills but don’t know where to begin—up six percentage points from 2021.
Cross-training is an effective way to provide employees with the skills development opportunities they desire while creating a more agile workforce. By building a broad range of skills, employees can better adapt to change and find solutions to problems.
Another way cross-training improves adaptability is by mitigating issues that arise when a vital member of the team is absent. When an employee unexpectedly resigns, goes on leave, or calls in sick, a cross-trained team member can step in their role and take over critical tasks. This way, the business continues to run smoothly even when key team members are gone.
Increases Employee Engagement
Employees feel more empowered than ever to seek better career opportunities, but it doesn’t always have to do with compensation. A study found that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
Cross-training gives employees knowledge and experiences apart from their daily roles, keeping them more engaged at work and less stagnant. By expanding your employees’ skill set, cross-training can help you build an engaged workforce and an overall positive employee experience.
The collaborative and solution-driven mindset that cross-training brings can lead to higher efficiency across your organization. Have you ever learned something new while teaching someone else? Cross-training forces employees to analyze how they do things while they train others, which creates opportunities to recognize and correct inefficiencies.
Creates a Culture of Continuous Learning and Growth
With remote work, rapid technological changes, and the ever-growing skills gap, creating a culture of continuous learning is critical to business longevity. Cross-training helps foster a growth mindset by training employees on skills and experiences outside of their wheelhouse.
“Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”
— Brian Tracy, CEO of Brian Tracy International
We can’t avoid the rapid changes happening in the business world. No company is exempt from the need to learn, grow, and take risks. When it comes to technology, stagnant companies fear new initiatives, but forward-thinking companies embrace them and, thus, reap the benefits.
Companies are implementing immersive technology to train employees and facilitate more engaging L&D programs. Imagine cross-training an employee in VR rather than a dull Zoom presentation or having employees participate in a VR simulation to practice their new skills. Edstutia designs and delivers exciting cross-training experiences in VR to help organizations build a future-ready workforce.
Creates Business Sustainability
Your company’s ability to run smoothly when critical team members are gone also creates business sustainability. Cross-training is a preventative measure you can implement to ensure your workforce sustains transitions and disruptions to workflow.
Not to mention, regularly hiring new team members is costly. 79% of L&D professionals agree it’s less expensive to reskill an employee than to hire a new one. Cross-training is a way to reskill employees so they can step in when key players leave, saving money on hiring costs and creating sustainability.
Enables Succession Planning
Cross-training encourages employees to train for the job they want. If a junior marketing associate is cross-trained on some responsibilities the marketing manager handles, they may be a shoo-in for a promotion when the marketing manager moves into a marketing director role. After all, they’re already trained to handle some key tasks of the marketing manager role.
Cross-training highlights the capabilities and potential of employees, which helps leadership make smart decisions about promotions.
Creates Scheduling Flexibility
Flexibility with employee schedules is one of the biggest reasons cross-training is beneficial. Let’s say your administrative assistant would like to leave 30 minutes before the office closes each day for school pick-up. However, calls come into the main phone line until close.
If a couple of coworkers receive cross-training on answering and directing calls, they can watch over the phone for the last 30 minutes of the day. Cross-training helps employees work together to share specific responsibilities so they can have more flexible schedules.
Promotes Internal Mobility
Internal mobility has become critical to retaining employees and weathering change. Companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, nearly twice as much as companies that struggle with internal mobility, where the average retention span is 2.9 years.
Cross-trained employees will be one step ahead when moving into another role since they already have some background knowledge and skills to succeed. The opportunity to move around internally excites employees and can help them navigate their career goals and understand where they will be most satisfied and efficient in the company.
Tips For Successful Cross-Training
With all these benefits, cross-training might sound like an obvious win for your company by now. However, you should carefully and intentionally initiate cross-training to ensure you get a return on your investment and that employees get on board with it. Let’s look at some tips for creating a successful cross-training program.
Identify Specific Goals
As with any training initiative, you should identify goals that aim to solve problems in your organization. Before cross-training, determine where you’d like to improve productivity, adaptability, scheduling flexibility, or skills gaps.
If there’s a critical task that only one team member in your organization can do, and every time they’re absent feels like a catastrophe, you might consider training other employees on how to step in when they’re gone.
Setting specific goals will also help you continuously measure the effectiveness of your cross-training efforts.
Identify Who Should Participate
You should identify each employee’s skills, experience, and skills gaps before deciding who will cross-train on what skills. Select motivated employees to participate in cross-training. If you want to cross-train one of your HR professionals on R&D, you should pick an employee who is motivated to learn and interested in understanding the R&D side of the business.
Selecting employees you see moving into other positions in the future is also beneficial. Suppose many of your organization’s financial processes have become automated, and you’re finding yourself overstaffed in the finance department. You can begin cross-training some of your finance employees to set them up for success to move into other positions within the company down the road.
Don’t Overwhelm Employees
There are a multitude of reasons why cross-training is beneficial, but one of the downsides is overwhelming your workers. Employees might initially view cross-training as putting more work on their plate without extra pay.
To avoid resentment, make cross-training a transparent, flexible process and involve employees in decision-making. Some ways you can prevent employees from getting overwhelmed are:
- Be transparent about the cross-training initiative and how it will benefit them
- Reserve a small amount of time per week for cross-training
- Let employees decide the day and time that works best for them to cross-train
- Temporarily reduce employees’ regular responsibilities
Make cross-training collaborative and transparent by encouraging employees to provide feedback. You can survey employees during and after cross-training initiatives to ensure your initial goals are met and identify ways to improve the process. Collecting feedback also shows employees you care about their learning experiences and career development.
Wrap-Up: Reasons Why Cross-Training is Beneficial
Employers who want to prepare for the future are investing in cross-training their employees. There are many reasons why cross-training is beneficial for your company. Building a workforce of individuals with a broad range of skills gives your business the agility and efficiency required for long-term success.
Edstutia helps businesses prepare their workforce for the future by providing immersive learning experiences with virtual reality. We can create cross-training simulations and learning experiences in VR that are specific to your organization’s needs and instill a learn-by-doing approach for better outcomes.
Learn more about our Enterprise Solutions and how we can deliver engaging VR learning experiences your team will get excited about.