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How to Build & Sustain an Effective Workforce with Cross-training

By Intertek Alchemy   |   
Cross-training employees

Factors related to the pandemic have created an unprecedented labor shortage that is forcing manufacturers to re-examine how they attract, retain, and make the most of a precious supply of talent. Traditional enticements like signing bonuses, higher pay, and better benefits rarely differentiate employers in this competitive labor market.

Cross-training can help by creating an unmatched work environment that offers a career path, community, and a sense of value. Cross-training does more than attract and retain employees. It can help build a sense of community and purpose within your company and prevent burnout. From an operational perspective, a solid cross-training program can ensure you always have the resources you need to maintain production, regardless of turnover or illnesses.

Below are six ways cross-training can help your organization. For an in-depth look at the value, techniques, resources, and barriers for cross-training, download the new eBook: Cross-training Tips & Techniques: Keys to Attract, Develop, & Retain Valuable Workers.

Provide Growth Opportunities

Employees who feel they have no future with their company are more likely to leave after a few months on the job. By training your workers to perform different tasks and take on greater responsibility, you demonstrate confidence and a willingness to invest in their future with the company. Employees are more likely to stick around if they believe they’ll receive training that can help advance their careers. “It’s very important to me,” remarks Rachal Baine, a general utility worker at Ajinomoto Foods. “Any time the company uses their resources to invest in their people, it just speaks volumes about the company.” Hear more employee perspectives in this video.

Match Pay to Skill Levels

In addition to rewarding employees for their tenure with your company, you can cross-train them to take on additional skills and responsibilities that can be tied to pay raises. Each new training level provides an opportunity to document and reward their growth. This can incentivize newer workers to learn more who could otherwise be discouraged if raises only come with tenure. And you can develop an employee base capable of working anywhere on the line when needed.

Develop Relationships

When cross-training, your employees have an opportunity to develop deeper connections with others that will make them want to stay through hard times and band together to help the collective team succeed. The additional training also allows them to see how their work contributes to the overall success of your organization. Employees can have a career instead of a job.

Provide Big Picture Thinking

Cross-training helps employees understand how their roles impact others along with production goals so they comprehend the importance of the quality behind their work. Also, training employees to work in other departments or production lines means you always have a built-in resource to replace workers when they call in sick, take a vacation, or suddenly quit.

Simplify Scheduling

With a full roster of cross-trained employees for multiple jobs, it’s easier to schedule production around busy times of the year, employee vacations, and illnesses. Most successful cross-training programs include a list of training each employee has received, so it’s easier to see if someone is cross-trained to cover an area that might need additional resources.

Improve Documentation

Companies with established cross-training programs can document when employees complete additional training, helping employers see who is close to mastering new tasks and positions. This approach helps them quickly identify replacements when another employee is unable to work their post and reward employees who have received additional training.

All of these advantages will ultimately help you attract and retain employees for the long haul. Contact us to learn more about how to build a successful cross-training program for your organization

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