Are you keeping up with your cross training to ensure that your company stays fit?
Wait, I don’t mean the running, jumping, lifting, sweating kind of cross training. (Unless your business is athletics, of course.)
I mean training the members of your team to perform in different positions throughout your organization.
Cross training takes your employees out of their silos and allows them to learn new skills and experience new roles while on the job. Lateral or horizontal, cross training allows employees to switch roles or transfer to different divisions and learn about each aspect that contributes to your business’s success.
Plus, cross training can be your secret weapon to not only keep your company fit but recruit and retain the best hires. As the pool of qualified candidates continues to shrink (unemployment rates below 4%? Yikes!), offering career development opportunities may be the key to attracting and retaining the best of the best.
How can providing cross training for your staff make your business an employee magnet?
Opportunities for career development.
Career development is catnip to potential hires and complicated for employers.
A 2016 Gallup report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, observed that “Millennials care deeply about their development when looking for jobs and--naturally--in their current roles. An impressive 87% of millennials rate ‘professional or career growth and development opportunities’ as important.”
A May 2018 headline fromBusiness of Fashion reads: A Wake-Up Call for Employers: Career Development Is More Important Than Pay .Fast Company’s Gwen Morgan writes, “American workers are worried about their career futures, and they are ready to quit if need be.”
Willing to quit! More important than pay!
Wow. Today’s employees aren’t messing around.
But how does offering in-house career development opportunities look in the real world?
I mean, you hired the person because you need the person forthat job. How do you keep employees learning and engaged when you need them on the job, not attending conferences and classes?
That’s where cross training comes in. When you offer cross training, employees are still working while they are learning, and your company is gaining a better trained, multi-skilled workforce.
How much happier could you make employees than bypaying them to get the added skills training they want? It’s a win-win!
Besides, as employees become scarce and employers’ needs grow, offering this type of career development perk is practically a necessity.
What else can cross training do for your business?
How about a power-up?
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, like athletic cross training, organizational cross training also strengthens your entire business structure.
When you take employees out of their comfort zone, they get stronger. Plus, throughout the training process, your business can collect valuable information about both individual and corporate weaknesses and strengths. Mmm...data. Yummy!
In the article Cross training: Succession planning that also boosts engagement, HR Dive’s Rila O’Donnell notes that cross training is an effective way for employers to assess a promising candidate’s suitability for promotions and expanded roles.
By inviting an employee to explore other positions within an organization, the employer is in effect giving them a paid try-out. This allows both the employer and employee to decide whether a move up or over is the right one for that employee.
Cross training can also help employers identify organizational weaknesses. An employee introduced to a new workgroup serves as a fresh pair of eyes and ideas. Plus, adding employees eager to learn new skills keeps supervisors on their toes.
In Research Shows That Organizations Benefit When Employees Take Sabbaticals, author andHarvard Business Review contributor David Burkus highlights an interesting finding made by researchers examining the benefits of sabbaticals. He writes that the researchers discovered that sabbaticals were not only good for the employees who temporarily left, but also for those who were left behind.
The employees assigned to fill in for sabbatical takers gained valuable leadership skills that they kept with them after their interim assignment ended.
Plus, it isn’t easy to replace an employee who is off the job, whether they are home sick or went elsewhere. Employees who have been trained to serve in various roles also serve as a continual backup system. Or, asForbes contributor Chris Cancialosi puts it, cross training is “your best defense against indispensable employees.”
Is it time to add cross training to your company’s fitness regimen?
Let’s face it, with unemployment at record-low rates, we aren’t exactly in a hirers’ market right now. Cross training can not only help you attract new employees but hedge against the loss of existing ones. Like a good workout program, cross training is just good for your business all around.
What I’m saying is, it’s time.