Cross-training Employees Is Essential In Small Business. Here Are Some Great Tools To Help You Start Training and Keep Production Flowing

When office and school furniture manufacturer OFM wanted a way to make employees more efficient, it turned to its own resources for internal cross-training. Creating “OFM University,” the company began cross-training employees on such operations as accounting, inventory, graphics, and shipping. This reinvigorated workers and created a workforce prepared to take over each other’s responsibilities.

“It’s made all of us more effective at our own jobs,” OFM’s Wes Edwards states. “When you understand why your coworker needs something from you, you’re going to do a better job getting it to them.”

This is especially important when it comes to your business’s technology-related positions. If you have specialized software that only part of your staff knows, you may be costing yourself money down the line. Since these days it’s rare for an employee to stick with one employer for the duration of his or her career, the likelihood most of your employees will eventually leave at one time or another

“Long gone are the days when employees are hired and then are in the same position at the same company for years and years,” SmallBizTechnology’s Ramon Ray says. “It’s important that companies work hard to hire the right employees but also train them to be cross functional. The sales manager might be able to fill in as the social media manager with the right training.”

Once employers make the offer, they may be surprised to find that employees actually want to train in other work areas. In fact, the chance to learn new things may energize them, motivating them to do a better job in their present area.

If you don’t have an in-house trainer, don’t worry. Grovo has online training available in Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and more for free. YouTube also has training videos in more specialized areas. Or you can create your own videos in-house. Videotape your trainer’s presentation and use a site like 9 Slides to upload your video for on-demand viewing at any time. Brainshark also lets you upload presentations for later viewing, including your training videos. Bring in a trainer for one-time training and record it (with permission, of course) for your employees to view for years. Like Brainshark and 9 Slides, Mindflash also lets you upload your training videos.

Adobe Captivate takes it a step further, allowing you to record your own computer desktop as you walk the trainee through the software. You can narrate using your computer’s microphone or an audio file you upload. Only the part of the screen you designate will show to the viewer and it starts recording only when you command it to.

If you’d prefer to do your training live, Adobe Connect will blast your presentation to everyone in your organization. They can attend training from their own offices or even remotely. This is ideal for eLearning because it allows you to train even regional or field staff in one session without expensive travel costs.

In today’s work environment, even non-technical employees must stay on top of the most current technology. Using in-house eLearning tools, you can save money while preparing your staff for the ever-changing work environment.

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About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.