If employees can handle various tasks, then you can shift people in and out of jobs as needed-without calling in temporary workers, running up overtime costs, or stinting on client services.
In sports, cross-training develops different parts of the body rather than just one muscle group. The same principle applies with cross-training your employees. Instead of just having one person do one thing, train employees to handle multiple tasks. An obvious benefit of cross-training: flexibility. If employees can handle various tasks, then you can shift people in and out of jobs as needed—without calling in temporary workers, running up overtime costs, or stinting on client services. Cross-training also:
Be aware: You can train clinical employees to do clerical jobs but the process doesn't always work in reverse. Some employees may not have motivation for cross-training, and forcing it may cause resentment. It starts with hiring people who can multitask, want to learn new skills, and can shift gears when needed.
Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Bob Levoy is a speaker and writer based in Roslyn, N.Y. His newest book is 222 Secrets of Hiring, Managing and Retaining Great Employees in Healthcare Practices (Jones and Bartlett, 2007).