The Advantages and Disadvantages of Encouraging Cross-Functional Training
Cross-functional training aims to form a team of individuals with various functional expertise and make them work toward similar goals. Usually, it involves employees from different departments of an organization such as human resources, marketing, finance, operations, etc.
Although already practiced by some companies because of its positive side, other companies are still hesitant to initiate cross-functional training due to potential negative outcomes. If you haven’t tried this yet in your company, you can decide whether to encourage it or not by closely looking at cross-functional training’s advantages and disadvantages below.
The Advantages of Cross-Functional Training
- Cross-functional training promotes stability.
Business continuity is highly essential in any organization to prevent loss of clients and resources. However, this would be challenging if there is only one person assigned per scope of work. For example, if you have only one I.T. personnel (let’s name him Kevin) assigned in system maintenance, you would have a problem if he gets sick or decides to take a break. Cross-functional training, on the other hand, allows you to train another employee (Justin) with Kevin’s scope of work. This way, when Kevin is away, you can rely on Justin to takeover Kevin’s work.
- Cross-functional training results to efficiency.
Many times, training other employees regarding certain responsibilities leads to a more efficient process. Since more people are involved, more relevant inputs and suggestions are also considered, making it a win-win situation for the business, employees and employers.
- Cross-functional training boosts flexibility.
Reality wise, unwelcome disasters happen, and such are threats to the overall operations of a business. On a positive note, those who have cross-trained their employees could easily recover from dire situations since their employees could work hand-in-hand on their way to recuperation.
- Cross-functional training boosts teamwork.
Better coordination, high levels of productivity, more substantial insights, and a better working environment are just some of the benefits of good teamwork. Cross-functional training will definitely help employees to contribute, blend and settle with a diverse team which could lead to achieving the said benefits of teamwork.
- Employees develop new skills.
The training doesn’t only add value to the company, but to the employees as well. Working with other people who have different skill sets from yours would be a great learning experience. It will give an employee the opportunity to adopt other skills, increase their potential, learn from others’ professional experiences, and also develop better working standards based on what’s been effective with other people.
- Cross-functional training stimulates loyalty.
Training, in general, makes the employees feel valued. Since you’re investing time and knowledge on them, cross-functional training indirectly stimulates loyalty in them. It makes them appreciate the company more, as well as feel like they have a family in their new teammates. This could lead to a lower percentage of resignation.
- Cost reduction is almost guaranteed.
Cross-functional training saves the company from hiring additional employees. The training can also boost the company’s overall productivity. Since the members are selected from other departments, they’ll be doing the extra work without additional pay unless approved by the company. Also, cross-functional training can lower the percentage of employee resignation. This means that the company could also save up on recruitment costs and training costs for new hires.
The Disadvantages of Cross-Functional Training
- Cross-functional training may cause conflict between employees.
Truth be told, some people are highly competitive. They want to be on top of everything, especially when working with a team. This characteristic could be fueled by cross-functional training since the employees will be exposed to other skilled individuals. Although being competitive is positive in some way, it could also trigger conflict between employees.
- There could be coordination issues.
Since each member of a cross-functional team is also a part of their respective departments, there could be times that their schedules wouldn’t match. This could lead to output discrepancies and other coordination issues. When someone is also absent in a meeting, he/she might get confused about the responsibilities assigned to him.
- Employees may lose focus on their strengths.
Have you ever heard of the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none?” It could be a potential threat in a cross-functional setting. Because of too much work and skills required in the team, employees might lose focus on their core strength or own departments. Although this is a good opportunity to learn how to multi-task and develop new skills, having a person who has above average skills in a specific area could take an organization to places when utilized accordingly. Hence, learning to balance things and setting priorities are highly necessary.
- More work can demotivate employees.
Unless the company would give the employees additional salary or incentives for joining a cross-functional team, handling more responsibilities and more work could demotivate them. While there’s a big chance to reduce costs caused by resignation, there could also be a tendency for employees to be stressed and unhappy with too much work and adjustments. If not addressed properly, this could lead to withdrawal from the role in the long run.
These are just some of the long list of advantages and disadvantages of encouraging a cross-functional training. We hope this article has helped you weigh if the idea is applicable to your organization. Just remember that balance is key to everything.
If you have decided that cross-functional training for you, what next? You have to ensure that your company’s Human Resource Information System is capable of letting you plan out the training of your employees. Having a Personnel Development module or Talent Development module will help you manage and keep track of the training progress of your employees, while also monitoring your overall training expenses.
If your organization still does not have a Human Resource Information System or HRIS, then consider Everything at Work, an all-in-one Integrated Payroll and Human Resource Management Information System that includes a robust Talent Development or Personnel Development module to help you achieve Cross-Functional Training Success.