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Why Cross-Training Employees is Easier with VKS

By: Sylvie Couture

May 6, 2020

Why Cross-Training Employees is Easier with VKS

Have you ever played chess? If so, I’m sure that at least once you looked longingly at the Queen and wished that all your pieces had the same versatility that she does.

If you have ever felt the same while looking at your workforce, it might be time for you to consider cross-training.

Of course, I am not talking about the cross-training that involves a warehouse, tires, and battle ropes. The cross-training discussed in this article is the practice of training members of your workforce to be able to take on various tasks within the company, giving you a strategic advantage and reducing your dependence on specific employees.

Avoiding Checkmate

The idea behind cross-training is to train your workforce members to perform multiple tasks within your organization. Not only is this practice beneficial at every level of the organization, but it also will allow you to gain new insight on your procedures and see your workforce in a new light.

Giving You Options

It has happened at least once in every organization. “Fred” takes his first vacation in 10 years, and once he is blissfully off-grid, someone at the office realizes that Fred was the only one who knew how to add clients to SalesForce…

The goal of implementing a cross-training program is to avoid scenarios such as the one above as well as the hundreds of similar scenarios. By having multiple employees trained on the same task, you not only have more flexibility when creating schedules, but you also have greater confidence in your projected dates since delivery no longer depends on specific individuals.

This also helps you detect new potentials and strengths within your workforce that might not have come to light otherwise. For example, who knew that in addition to being a superb welder, Sherry was also a great health and safety inspector? This new knowledge will ultimately help you play your team to their strengths and excel in their tasks.

This is also a great time to collect the thoughts of employees that are working on new tasks since new eyes bring new ideas and innovations.

Keeping the Workforce Engaged

Science has proved that learning is ultimately good for your brain, and your brain generally enjoys it. So not only is this practice beneficial to the health of your workforce’s grey matter, but it also helps ward off feelings of monotony and keeps employees interested and engaged in their work. It can even lead to people discovering new talents and skills that can lead them to new and exciting places within the company.

There is also the advantage that it helps develop a deeper workplace empathy. By exploring and learning other tasks and sharing work experiences with other workers, your workforce will gain a better global understanding of the workings of your organization. For example, an employee might not see the value of returning their protective gear to its proper place after their shift, until the day they are tasked with the inventory of the protective gear.

Sharing the Load

Although there is some comfort in the belief that we are unique and irreplaceable in our tasks, there is also a huge relief in knowing that you can, in fact, take a sick day, or go on vacation, without causing considerable stress on your team or slowing production.

Also, in the event of manual tasks, changing tasks every so often can help reduce the risk of repetitive-motion injuries which is still one of the leading causes of workplace medical leaves.

Knowing that others on your team will be there for you when you need assistance helps everyone stay physically and emotionally healthy.

Technically Speaking: Cross-Training Made Easier with VKS

VKS is a prime candidate to help you cross-train your workforce since it is all about facilitating the sharing of knowledge within an organization. In this section, we will discuss specific VKS features that can help you on your journey to expanding your team’s potential.

Visual Work Instructions

Not everyone learns the same way. Some people prefer reading descriptive text, others are more visual and prefer images and videos. Luckily, VKS’ guidebooks allow you to use all of these mediums so you can cater to everyone’s learning needs. Detailed and comprehensive guidebooks also greatly reduce the need for in-person training and make remote learning a viable solution. This is a great advantage for your cross-training initiative since learning can be done independently in a worker’s downtime.

How it works:

  • With the input of your subject matter experts, create the most thorough guidebook possible while incorporating your organization’s best practices.
  • Take advantage of the attachments and link options to enhance your guidebook even further.
  • Use Smart Forms to collect feedback and questions from the operators and this data to optimize the guidebook.

Make Use of Expert Steps and Expert mode

Using these settings allows you to use the same guidebook for both experienced employees and new trainees. Expert employees will be allowed to navigate guidebooks more quickly, while newcomers to the process can use the same guidebook but be presented with more steps and information to help them through this new task.

How it works:

  • Make sure all experienced users have the “Expert” skill level selected in their user profile.
  • When creating guidebooks, be sure to identify all the essential steps as Expert steps. This will allow Expert users to skip everything that is not labeled as an Expert step. Note that this is an option the operator controls, so if an Expert user feels they need a refresher, they can still access the extra steps.
  • When it comes time to use the guidebook, Expert operators can go to the Options menu in the Guidebook Player and select the “Switch to Expert mode” option.

Smart Elements

As mentioned earlier, the use of smart forms can help you exchange with those using the guidebooks and help you optimize the guidebooks for future users. Smart forms, when used in conjunction with smart rules, can also be used to create guidebooks that are exclusively training guides, by turning them into interactive questionnaires. The best part is that the details and information entered by those following these guidebooks can be accessed through the “Production report” section.

How it works:

  • Create quizzes within the guidebook using smart forms that allow users to answer questions by using either checkboxes or radio buttons.
  • Use smart rules to control the behavior of the guidebook based on the data collected in the smart form. For example, if a user answers a question correctly they will be able to continue the training. If they answer incorrectly, they will be redirected to the page containing the information they need.
  • Once the user has “completed” the training guidebook, you can go to the “Production report” page and access all the data collected from that guidebook, including the users’ answers and any feedback or questions they might have had.