Flu-proof your facility: 3 keys to more effective cross-training

We’re still right in the thick of cold and flu season and that means one thing: employee sick days and lots of them.

Having workers missing off the floor isn’t ideal, but it definitely beats the alternative: having ’em come in sick and spread those germs all throughout your facility. Or worse: They could end up getting hurt or making mistakes because they’re not feeling up to par.

The best thing a sick staffer can do is stay far, far away from the workplace. Of course, not all staffers need to be forced to stay home, as this list of the craziest sick day excuses can confirm.

But either way that still leaves managers with plenty of holes to fill and productivity goals to meet.

The best way to keep your company safe? Other than a giant bottle of hand sanitizer?


Cross-training workers in multiple departments and areas can help make sure your company doesn’t miss a beat, even if the flu bug strikes hard.

Here are three keys to getting even better results from your employee cross-training program:

  1. What’s in it for them? Some workers can be hesitant to pass off their skills and cross-train their co-workers because they might think they’re being asked to secretly train their replacements.  Make sure to squash those misconceptions early on. Sit down with employees and explain how it helps both sides: one worker gets a new set of skills, while the other gets the peace of mind to use vacation or sick days without worrying about work piling up.
  2. Build on what they know. Workers learn best when a new skill is in some way related to one they already have. Example: If employees are skilled with their hands, they can probably be cross-trained on several machines. This way they’ll have less of a learning curve when it comes to getting up to speed on their extra duties.
  3. Take it piece by piece. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew with cross-training, so start small with a single employee or a small group and gradually work your way through the entire team until everyone is up to speed. You’ll have plenty of time to make sure each worker “gets it,” plus you won’t have to worry about bringing production to a standstill for training.

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