Half a century ago, people didn’t tend to move between employers. There was a real ‘job for life’ culture where workers who started with a firm in their late teens would often stay with that organisation until retirement. In the modern world, there is a focus on ‘skills for life’ and ensuring that staff have transferrable skills that can take them from position to position, employer to employer. Multi skilling or cross training in areas of the current business a person works at is one way to build on skills and experience – and can also have big pay offs for employers too.
Read on to find out the top three reasons why being multi skilled makes sense.
1. Meet Career and Business Objectives
Having a flexible workforce who are comfortable working in more than one area of the business is great for employers – it can mean less downtime and increased productivity if staff are away, leave the business or there is unexpected demand in one department while another is fairly quiet. It also provides benefits to staff who are looking for more challenges or to advance their careers. If formalised training is offered to staff who are cross training in other areas of the business, the employer may be eligible for discounts if more than one course is undertaken or there are multiple people studying the same thing.
2. Facilitate Teamwork and Communication
Learning about another side of the business helps to ensure that all staff understand how what they do impacts on workflow and other people’s objectives. Cross trained staff can often provide the missing link and possess the kind of understanding that can really only come from having a thorough working knowledge of both sides of a process.
3. Future Proof The Business – And The Workforce
It’s often been said that change is the only certainty in life, and that adage rings true for business too. Technologies will change, some roles or functions may become obsolete to make way for new ways to complete tasks, people will move on. Having a multi skilled workforce ensures businesses don’t lose valuable knowledge resources when staff leave, and can provide greater employment security and transfer opportunities to people if there is major change or restructure.
It is important to note that while having a cross trained workforce can provide a company with a flexible and efficient workforce, the goal is not to have less people doing more work if business demands genuinely dictate a need for more resources. Staff still have the same amount of hours in their shift, but cross training can provide opportunities for business operations to become smarter. For the most part, multi skilling works best when people still have a core function that they do most of the time but are still given the opportunity to keep their skills and experience in another area current.
What do you think the biggest advantage to a multi skilled workforce is?