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The Benefits of Cross-Training Employees

Cross-training employees means more than making sure everyone can operate the copy machine in case the administrative assistant is out for the day. It has more to do with identifying the major tasks and skills in a specific area of your organization and training each employee on these skills so they can offer support when it’s needed.

In a manufacturing environment, this might mean that employees who are trained on one machine are also trained on other machines. They would normally work on their regular machine but would be able to shift to working on another machine if something came up that required someone to run the other machine, such as an unexpected absence or an overflow of orders on the other machine. 


In an office setting, this might mean that the accounts payable professional would learn how to do accounts receivable, billing, and/or balance the bank statements. Again, if there was an unexpected absence, they could step in and complete the necessary tasks on a temporary basis — maybe for just one day or maybe on a temporary basis while a replacement person is found to fill that position. 

Cross-training can make or break a small company and can be a great convenience for a larger company. We’re Echo360, and our EchoPoll learning engagement platform is the best choice for cross-training employees in your workplace. 

Our e³ philosophy, which highlights equity, evidence, and engagement, guides each feature on the platform. Equity means that every trainee has the same experience. Accessibility features are built into all of our learning platforms and they meet or exceed W3C accessibility standards. 

Evidence means that you can be certain your training efforts are successful using the analytical tools we provide. When training efforts are falling short, you will be able to see exactly why so you can make the needed changes quickly and easily. 

Engagement is central to our EchoPoll platform as all educational components are built on engaging the student in our dynamic learning interface through multimedia presentations whether they are studying synchronously or asynchronously. 

What are the benefits of a successful cross-training initiative?

There are countless benefits of cross-training your employees, no matter what size your organization is. Here’s a sampling of the top advantages of a successful cross-training initiative: 

Return on investment

When it comes time to hire somebody for a new job, you’ll be more likely to be able to hire staff from within, saving time and money. Each employee’s value is enhanced because they are more likely to hold more than one job during their time with your company.

Opportunities for collaboration

When your employees are able to understand the tasks other employees perform, they are more likely to be able to use their skills to collaborate smoothly on projects across specializations. They won’t mind doing job tasks that are outside their specific job description because it will make the company run more smoothly.

Increased employee motivation

When it comes time to hire somebody for a new job, you’ll be more likely to be able to hire staff from within, saving time and money. Each employee’s value is enhanced because they are more likely to hold more than one job during their time with your company.

Improved workforce sustainability

If only one person knows how to run the payroll department, what happens when that person takes a leave? It’s important that employees can step in for each other – not necessarily to do the entire job but to keep the company running in times of need.

Improved efficiency

When each department works to identify which skills are valuable to add to a cross-training program, they automatically review their processes and increase job efficiency across the board. As employees are learning new skills in different areas, HR has more flexibility to efficiently deploy cross-trained resources as needed. 

Greater agility

While cross-training your employees, you may discover hidden talents, increase employees’ skillsets, and provide a springboard for advancing the goals and objectives of your organization. Managers have more flexibility to allocate human resources when needs take an unexpected turn. This makes your company more agile and responsive, no matter the size. 

Improved scheduling flexibility

It can be difficult to find somebody to fill in for a last-minute call-in or for a vacation request, especially if you only have one person working in each department. With cross-training, employees can work across different departments, increasing flexibility in times of increased workloads or employee shortages. This also allows employees to pick up extra hours when they are in need.

Facilitate succession planning

It’s a lot easier to hire from within your company than from outside. Through cross-training, managers can equip employees with the skills that would be beneficial to have when somebody above them on the ladder leaves. Even if cross-training doesn’t lead to an immediate promotion, employers can see who has been willing to take the initiative to learn more about the business.

Echo360 has your employee cross-training needs covered

EchoPoll makes cross-training employees as easy as dragging and dropping their names into different training modules. The instructor of a particular training program can open the course, choose the employees that they want to be able to access the training, and add them to the team. Immediately, that course will be available to the employees on their dashboard. 

The instructor can choose the dates they want each employee to finish the training within, so if you want certain employees to have a longer period in which to complete the training, you can give them a longer timeframe. If other employees need to finish the training sooner, you can set their timeframe accordingly.

EchoVideo is the perfect tool for generating content for your training and cross-training needs. You can record video online or offline. This allows you to teach trainees live if you want, but more importantly, to edit the video you create quickly and easily offline as you put together a presentation to be delivered asynchronously as the trainee needs it.

Editing is an easy process with EchoVideo. It provides a straightforward visual timeline of your recorded videos, making it easy to insert other media where it makes the most sense. You can insert a pre-recorded video, an image, or an infographic as you discuss the relevant topic. You can splice a graph over the video as the audio continues to play so your trainees can get a good idea of the project being discussed. 

Because cross-training generally involves learning more of a brief overview of processes and procedures than a specialist’s training, you may want to create a condensed course for these employees. This can be easily done by copying the original information and editing it to contain only the information needed by the cross-trained employees. EchoVideo makes cross-training that easy.

EchoPoll has gamification built in to allow management to encourage trainees as they succeed in their cross-training initiatives. Learners can earn a badge for each new skill they learn, which also allows them to demonstrate the roles they can fill in for when needed. Friendly competition can encourage team members to work hard to earn as many badges as or more badges than their fellow team members, which results in more cross-training throughout the business. In addition, leaderboards encourage friendly competition within cross-training programs as employees compete for the highest scores in the class. 

EchoPoll comes with the analytics tools managers need to make sure employee cross-training is effective. These tools include the ability to look at the work each employee has completed in their program and what their performance is like. The manager can also review worker performance by class, by module, and even by question. This way, workers can get assistance if they are not understanding a particular concept. At the same time, the training can be tweaked if the entire team is not learning something correctly. Each learning session can be as efficient and effective as possible this way.

Because performance on a new skill needs to be verified in some way, Echo360 offers EchoExam, a program that makes creating an assessment as easy as the click of a few buttons. Once your course is completed, you can create tests using EchoExam test banks or you can create your own question banks. You can put together exams with your choice of how many different types of questions you want, such as multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and others. 

If your trainees need it, you can also launch practice tests from EchoExam. This allows them to get familiar with the testing format and make sure they understand the concepts that are going to be tested. If they need additional help to understand concepts, they can ask for it before they take the actual test. In fact, if you’re training a number of employees at once, you can create targeted assignments covering certain topics for individual trainees based on where they need the most help. It’s easy to do with EchoExam.

Cross-training tests taken in EchoExam can be automatically scored so your managers can see immediately how well a trainee has performed on their assessment. They can see which concepts the trainee performed well on and which ones they need more help with. Once they have passed all sections of the exam, you can expect them to be able to practice their cross-training skills on the job.  

Cross-train employees on the job

We all remember the times when training was the big HR event of the year. The business closed its doors and managers gathered their employees together for trust-building work and then the big training and cross-training sessions happened during the central parts of the days. Or if the business had to stay open, employees may have attended on a rotation schedule.

Either way, this learning format for training and cross-training no longer works for employees or managers. Managers need their team members to fulfill their roles without a week’s interruption for cross-training seminars. The technology available today makes cross-training easy to do on the job or between work assignments. One member of a team can get the training to do one skill outside their normal roles while the rest of the team completes a task, and then that worker can rotate back in while another team member gets cross-trained. 

Another way employees can learn a new skill is to do their cross-training on their own time. Through the interactive modules that managers create with EchoPoll, learning can be done from anywhere. An employee can learn to take on additional responsibilities from the comfort of their home or learn about additional roles from their local coffee shop before or after work. If they run into questions or need help, they can contact the manager through the EchoPoll platform and get an explanation back as soon as the manager sees the comment or question.  

Why do companies train and cross-train staff?

Learning and developing new skills can boost engagement levels in the workplace. According to one study, 94% of employees would agree to stay with a company longer if the company invested in their training, such as cross-training, which could lead to promotions or advantageous lateral moves. 

Workers may even be willing to stay in a job that is not exactly their dream job in order to reap future benefits from learning additional skills through cross-training. In the same study, 76% of employees were found to be concerned with finding career growth opportunities, which can be achieved when they take additional skill training within their current workplace. 

Management can implement a cross-training program to promote enhanced service to the company’s internal and external customers. When cross-training is available, employees learn the skills used to work with all types of customers, whether it’s part of the regular help they offer or a result of the new skills they get through cross-training. This way, if a customer has a need and the person who would normally fill that need is not available, there’s still always someone around who can meet their need. This kind of service gets noticed and gets companies great reviews online. Cross-training can improve the company’s profile with the public and with potential future customers.

Cross-training also makes each employee an invaluable part of a collaborative team of workers who are learning more about the quality the company offers as a whole. When your employees can do any job they may be called to do, you build an attitude of teamwork, which builds morale and improves employee retention. When coworkers are able and willing to help each other out, they are sure to feel more positive about their interactions in the workplace.

When employees feel positive about their workplace interactions, they are less likely to take extra days off and more likely to have a positive attitude on the job. They are also less likely to search for a new job outside the organization. Employee happiness and retention are valuable, both financially and as a way to create a pleasant workplace atmosphere. 

Taking on these related responsibilities can lead to new roles within the business. Managers should make use of the opportunity to provide feedback on employee performance when they practice new skills to let employees know that the cross-training is working to their advantage. 

How do I make cross-training employees easy?

By allowing you to simply drag and drop employees into new courses, EchoPoll is the easiest way to cross-train your employees. We’re confident that you will find our other features to be highly beneficial to training and cross-training your employees as well. Contact us to set up a demo today and see how easily you can set up a successful cross-training program at your organization.

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