Human Resources News & Insights

Cross-training: Today’s answer to getting the most out of your workforce

As companies try to stay lean and mean, many are turning to formal cross-training programs to make sure they’re getting the most out of their staffs. Here are some ideas on how to get started.

Some workers are going to be gung ho about learning a new set of skills and making themselves more valuable to your company.

Sadly, not all of them are going to see it that way. Some will drag their feet and complain about taking on extra work, while others might confuse the quest for staff flexibility with a red flag about layoffs.

The steps taken to prepare for cross-training go a long way toward making sure your plan’s a success.

Here are some strategies employers can use to start laying the groundwork for a successful cross-training program:

Ease into it

When it comes to cross-training employees, the best bet is to take it one step at a time.

Jumping into a mass training initiative can cause a lot of unforeseen snags — not the least of which is a confused and intimidated group of workers.

A better strategy is to move into the program gradually, increasing the number of employees involved as the workforce gets more comfortable with the new procedures.

Put it in a new light

One of the biggest barriers most managers have to overcome when it comes to cross-training is the “it’s not my job” mindset.

Some workers just like their routines, so any change, even if it’s for the better, is looked at as a negative.

Sports can be an effective method of getting around that mindset.

According to Timothy Chan of the University of Toronto and Douglas Fearing of Harvard Business School, flexibility is crucial to success in baseball and in business.

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