Internal employee development – This is why cross-functional skills are so important

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Numerous companies are facing the same problem: They lack qualified personnel to fill shifts or certain departments. Finding employees on the labor market is also becoming extremely difficult for companies. As a result, companies are increasingly focusing on upskilling existing employees.

Identifying understaffed positions 

It is often difficult for staff planners to identify shifts or positions where scheduling problems and staffing shortages occur over a long period of time. By assigning insufficiently qualified personnel, it may be possible to remedy the situation in the short term. Nevertheless, knowledge tied up in the company and well-trained specialists represent a significant competitive advantage. Therefore, the development of cross-functional skills is a major opportunity to improve one`s internal planning situation.

Two key factors must therefore be taken into account when it comes to training employees internally and retraining them for understaffed positions:

1. employees’ objectives 

Encouraging employees to stay with the company in the long term requires that their wishes and goals are taken into account. Supervisors should therefore engage in regular dialogue about their employees’ career targets and interests. In this way, it can be ensured that, in the event of a need for further training, the stored skills matrix can be automatically accessed in order to directly identify development potential.

2 Sufficient training capacity

In addition, it is necessary to analyze whether there is sufficient capacity for training new employees among existing staff. As part of in-house training, the development of cross-functional skills can be taken into account as early as the duty scheduling stage, with trainees being assigned experienced “buddies” to assist them. This approach enables optimal knowledge transfer, thus avoiding possible efficiency losses due to the migration of expertise.

Level system in shift planning

To help employees make optimal progress, it is important to consider their personal learning progress in the planning procedure. At the beginning of the training program, staff starts at a predefined “training level 1”. After completing a certain amount of work at this level, or after manual input from the supervisor, staff can switch to a qualification level with less supervision and more comprehensive tasks. This enables optimized training based on increasing responsibility and autonomy.   

By using an automated shift planning software, positions that are difficult to fill can be identified automatically and matched with the employees’ stored development potential. Consequently, an optimal in-house expansion of skills can be achieved, while keeping key factors in mind.   

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