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Cross-Train Employees in a Variety of Functional Areas to Increase Employee Engagement


Welcome to “Summertime…and Improving Productivity Is Easy: Eight Ways to Increase Employee Engagement,” a ScottMadden eight-part series. Based on a recent Gallup study,[1] we know that approximately 70% of employees are not engaged at work, resulting in lower job performance and loss of time and money for the organization. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll provide insights on how employee engagement impacts your business outcomes, as well as tangible examples of how you can increase engagement among your employees. Click here to see the complete series.


In the seventh installment of the series, we discuss how employee engagement can be improved with cross-training programs that expose employees to a variety of functional areas within their organization.


The Benefits of Cross-Training

Implementing or expanding a cross-training program across organization functions or lines of business can provide valuable learning experiences for employees. Not only can employees share their expertise with colleagues, they can learn new material, gain a better understanding of the organization’s bigger picture, and become valuable resources to fill organizational vacancies. In addition, cross-training prepares employees for an internal transfer or promotion by expanding their skillsets. Increased opportunities for learning and skillset development result in a more effective and engaged workforce.


Cross-training is a low-cost way to improve employee engagement, because employees will learn from subject matter experts within their own organizations as opposed to attending costly third-party training programs. Organization-specific training enables employees to develop deeper roots in multiple areas of the company, expand their professional networks, and increase the odds of finding new talents or areas of specialization.


Cross-Training Program Considerations

To experience the benefits of a cross-training program, the following recommendations should be considered:


  • Identify positions that would be a good fit for the training program with company leaders. Complementary skillsets should be considered when deciding which positions are eligible for the program
  • Formalize the training program by designating employees to organize and lead the training and by specifying which employees participate in trainings. Conference rooms and training venues should be booked and training materials developed for all participants
  • Complete training both vertically and horizontally across the company. Vertical training enables managers to better understand their direct reports’ skillsets, which can be beneficial when vacancies must be filled
  • Complete cross-training regularly, as employees will not always retain the material after one training session. Attendance and participation should be tracked to determine if employees are adhering to the plan


Although the implementation of a cross-training program will require a fair amount of preparation, the long-term benefits to employee engagement will outweigh the initial upfront costs and time spent.

[1] Gallup, “The Worldwide Employee Engagement Crisis,” 2016

Additional Contributing Author: Arielle Ennis

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