Imagine if your work could be as flexible and varied as your choice
of exercise. These days, it can. More and more employers are discovering that
the concept of cross-training in the workplace can benefit employees as much
as it helps athletes train for big events.
"Basically, when you're talking about cross-training, you're talking about
multi-skilling," says Janice Foley. She is a professor in a university's faculty
of administration. "Workers are trained to be able to do more tasks and broaden
their focus at work."
Foley says that this approach can help both the employer and the employee.
"It improves efficiency at a company and also makes jobs less boring for workers."
Michael Harrah is a radiologic technologist at a hospital in Oregon. He
has been cross-trained in various radiologic imaging systems.
CT technology is a specialized X-ray imaging process that can take very
detailed images. Being able to do this type of work, as well as other imaging
such as MRIs, has been helpful to both Harrah and the hospital.
"My day is never boring," says Harrah. "And I am able to help out in multiple
The hospital where Harrah works has just a small number of technologists,
all of whom are able to work in various areas.
"We have two technologists that do CT, nuclear medicine and X-ray, two
technologists that do MRI, CT and X-ray and one that does ultrasound, CT and
X-ray and another that does X-ray and ultrasound."
He says it's essential that all of these technologists are cross-trained.
"Being in a rural area, it's important to be able to work in more than one
Cross-training is satisfying for these technologists because it increases
their knowledge base and skill level. It also keeps the hospital running efficiently.
"Having technologists that can work in more than one imaging modality increases
efficiency and productivity. In a rural setting, sometimes there isn't a full
day of exams scheduled say in MRI or CT, so being able to work in more than
one area is essential."
Cross-training can reduce also job stress. For example, if an employee
is sick, she can be assured that someone else at work will be able to fill
in for her.
"While it increases job satisfaction, it can really reduce job stress,"
says Ashley Parks. She works in the marketing department for an employee performance
company in Arizona.
"With cross-training, it's easier for workers to go on vacation. And if
they are sick, they know someone can fill in for them," she adds.
This increase in productivity is one of the reasons more employers are
interested in cross-training their employees. "It's becoming more prevalent
with globalization," says Foley.
"Companies are looking at cost-cutting measures and increased flexibility.
Supposedly, global pressures are put on companies to make them more efficient.
This is one of the ways it can be done."
These days, workers also want more flexibility. Cross-training is one way
for many workers to create more flexible working conditions. It can entail
job sharing, working part time from home and covering shifts for other workers
who need time off.
Additional duties and responsibilities also make the workers feel more
valued and satisfied. "This is absolutely a trend that will continue," says
Parks. "It increases morale, making people feel they're working on a team
instead of against each other."
"Learning new technology is rewarding," says Harrah. "Cross-training has
increased my job satisfaction."