Cross-boarding: Why It Matters in Your Small Business

crossboarding strategy for small business

After having read thousands of job descriptions in my recruiting career, I must say I always enjoy seeing that bullet point, “Other duties as assigned,” at the end. Does that statement exist as a way of the HR Manager or Hiring Manager covering their you-know-what? Yes, it is. That simple statement makes it acceptable to ask existing employees to do additional work that was not discussed in the interview process. It gives the manager something to point to when they request someone to add more duties to their plate. Did you know though, there is an official name for it? It’s called cross-boarding. Let’s talk about what cross-boarding is and how it can have a positive impact on your small business.

What is Cross-boarding?

The process of cross-boarding is how small businesses can utilize current employees to fill openings rather than recruiting new applicants to save time and money. Instead of recruiting, management can access current employees who might meet the qualifications of the vacant position and identify any additional training needed to allow them to step into the new role. This process can work whether that is a promotion or simply a change in responsibilities.

Cross-boarding is a Cost-Saving Opportunity for Small Businesses

Small businesses know that recruiting is an expensive proposition. While your employee may need additional training to take on the role, the cost is likely to be far less than the recruitment process. There is also a time savings when a cross-boarded employee is a good fit who can slide into the role. Additionally, the learning curve is smaller when the employee knows your company’s culture and expectations when they take on the role.   

While cross-boarding is a cost-saving idea for the company, you want it to be more than simply giving an existing employee more work. You need to compensate the employee with an increased salary and/or benefits to show the employee you are grateful for their stepping up and taking on these additional responsibilities. Again, a small price in comparison to recruiting a new employee.

Employee Retention: Another Benefit of Cross-boarding

Having a cross-boarding plan can boost a company’s employee retention as well as employee engagement. Many employees want to grow and add new skills so that they can eventually be promoted. While some employees may lack skills (i.e. a brand-new employee) to be considered for cross-boarding, employees who can easily be brought up to speed and will be more engaged in their jobs and more likely to stay. And knowing there is growth potential makes the option to leave far less appealing. Why start over somewhere else when you can advance where you are?

When Is the Time to Hire Outside Your Cross-boarding Plan?

Your plan is going well, but how do you know when it is time to start a recruitment process and hire someone else? It’s time when you’ve utilized your current cross-boarded employee fully, and their new assignments are overtaking their time. When the original job is being placed on the back burner because they need to focus on their new responsibilities, it’s time to hire that new employee after all. The hiring process can also be another chance for your cross-boarded team member to grow – by becoming a part of the hiring and training process for the new employee.

Are You Ready to Start Cross-boarding Your Team?

Cross-boarding is an effective strategy for many small businesses. Consider cross-training employees on different skills and tasks in the event that they have to step in. Do you have team members in place now that could be cross-boarded? Be proactive and do training now - or at the very least, identify those employees who show promise and want to continue growing their careers. By implementing cross-boarding, you can delay an expensive recruitment process, and improve employee engagement and retention. When the time comes to hire a new staff member, you already have someone in place that can help with training. I would highly recommend cross-boarding as an additional tool for your talent strategy.

Does your talent strategy include cross-boarding? Contact Let’s Build Talent to see if this makes sense for your business. Click here to schedule a free consultation today!


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