The Benefits of Cross-Training Employees in Hospitality

It is often said that the best business professionals are capable of wearing many hats. A hospitality industry employee trained to serve in multiple capacities is that much more valuable to the organization. Cross-training employees makes it easier to keep a business in business, especially knowing that people will always be your most important resource. 

Recognize it is inevitable that personnel will call in sick, go on vacation and take personal days, cross-train employees accordingly and your enterprise will operate like a well-oiled machine. 

Flexibility is the name of the game. The challenge lies in communicating the benefits of cross-training employees to your personnel and executing that training without overstressing them. Keep reading to discover workforce management best practices and our best tips for implementing this process smoothly and successfully!

What is Cross-Training?

Cross-training is exactly as it sounds in that it provides individual employees training in several different roles or tasks. Effective cross-training ensures team members can complete the work that others might typically perform. Ideally, your hospitality business will be staffed by a team that can seamlessly fill in for one another when necessary. The benefits of cross-training employees include enhanced organizational dexterity, expanding team member skill sets and improving employee understanding of the business for utilitarian benefit. 

Cross-training empowers team members to make significant contributions to the business and also improves their own value in the context of human capital. Regardless of your specific hospitality niche, be it lodging, food service, tourism or another specialty, cross-training will prove highly effective. 

Cross-training does not require that employees constantly pivot between positions; rather, they can segue to additional roles as necessary while remaining in the position they were initially hired for or promoted to.

Cross-Training in Hospitality

Service is the name of the game in the hospitality industry. As a hospitality business owner or manager, you understand the customer experience matters most. Pigeonholing employees in one role will backfire as there will inevitably be employee turnover, vacations, illness and other emergencies that necessitate contributions from other team members. Invest the time and effort to train your team to serve the organization in different capacities and you’ll have the equivalent of a baseball “utility player” at your disposal, meaning someone who plays all positions. 

Though sometimes painful to dwell on, the truth is that the hospitality industry has a high turnover rate. Recognize this unique industry challenge, respond accordingly through cross-training employees and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a business that can operate smoothly, even under the most difficult of circumstances. 

As an example, training a hotel front desk attendant to serve in other capacities, be it room attendant, housekeeping, food prep, maintenance, sales, etc. ensures the business remains operational at all times. Food service businesses benefit from “utility players” who can segue from the cash register to cooking, food prep, cleaning tables and vice versa. 

The Benefits of a Cross-Trained Workforce

Though your team might initially hesitate to learn new roles, doing so expands their employment horizons, ultimately making them that much more effective and also more valuable. Make it clear that a willingness to learn new positions is a necessity for continued employment.

Moreover, communicating that participation in cross-training will likely lead to additional wage increases is even more important in the context of positive reinforcement. Communicate that cross-training is required when interviewing new candidates and you’ll enjoy continued compliance, including the benefits detailed below.

Maximize Your Labor Efficiency

Efficiency in the context of customer service means nearly everything in the hospitality industry. High labor efficiency increases revenue while keeping overhead costs to a minimum. An efficient labor force is capable of sliding into new roles without impediment. 

Use your mind’s eye to envision all the potential scenarios that could arise that threaten your hospitality industry business’s functionality: employee departure to competitors, unexpected terminations, illness and more. Cross-train employees with such scenarios in mind and you’ll boost labor efficiency all the more. 

Boost Employee Morale

Working in hospitality can often mean long hours and the work can be physically tiring, but it is often enjoyable and the connections made within a team make all the difference. Workplace culture and camaraderie often matter just as much as wages, wage increases and benefits. Foster team unity through employee cross-training and you’ll create a family-like atmosphere that boosts employee morale to new heights.

Heighten Job Satisfaction

Though most people would prefer to avoid work altogether, the truth is those who make meaningful contributions are that much more satisfied than those who do the bare minimum. Employees provided with the opportunity to learn new positions feel that much more valued and respected. If your team is hesitant to embrace new roles, sell it to them by reinforcing how dexterity in the workplace increases job security and can lead to new opportunities in the future, even those outside of your organization. 

Enhance Customer Service

A satisfied customer is a customer likely to return for additional service. However, service will inevitably decline if employees are restricted to a single functional capacity at your hospitality business. Empower your team to learn and embrace new roles and you’ll impress customers all the more through seamless service, regardless of staff challenges such as vacation, paid time off, sickness, etc.

The Flexibility Your Hospitality Business Needs

A malleable hospitality workforce is one that takes on employment opportunities as soon as they become available. Communicate your need for team members to pitch in across a wide array of roles and you’ll always have someone available to lend a helping hand. Flexibility boosts efficiency through the creation of a family-like atmosphere developed by team members lending a helping hand, filling in when necessary.

Cost Savings

Cross-training employees provides the agency necessary to pivot between roles, expanding worth and setting the stage for exemplary customer service.  

The benefits of cross-training employees ultimately create a sense of unity that manifests in the form of elite customer service and reduced employee turnover. Better service combined with less of a need to train employees will save your hospitality business a bundle of money in the long run.

Tips for Implementing a Successful Cross-Training Program

Take action by implementing your cross-training program as soon as possible and you’ll reap the rewards within months or less. Here’s a quick look at how to best approach the implementation of such a program. 

Establish a Plan of Action

Attempting to train your team in every single role within the business across a couple weeks will inevitably lead to a high attrition rate, and is likely to not leave you with the results you want. Weave together a carefully constructed plan of action for cross-training employees, stick to the plan unless it shows signs of failure and you’ll gradually acclimate your team members to new roles so they can step in as necessary.

Set Goals

Enhanced flexibility along with improved customer service are the primary aims of cross-training employees. Establish time and attendance goals along with benchmarks for employee skill and knowledge enhancement, modify those goals moving forward and strive for incremental progress.

Setting quantifiable goals is the best way to measure the success of your cross-training initiatives. 

Establish Resources and Training

 It is the actual training that matters more than anything else when it comes to cross-training employees in new roles. Assign managers or experienced employees to the role of trainer, dedicate time and additional resources to the actual training process and be patient with your staff as they gradually expand their boundaries. If your team members ask for additional guidance, training or resources, provide it accordingly.

Ask for Feedback

Communication in the form of dialogue is drastically superior to a top-down monologue. Request questions, concerns and ongoing feedback from your team, then implement their feedback appropriately moving forward. Harri’s employee engagement tools facilitate productive reciprocity that benefits employees as well as your hospitality business.

Review, Recognize and Adjust

Closely track scheduling, employee time and attendance after implementing your cross-training program. Our intelligent scheduling software empowers hospitality business owners and managers to make the most of their human resources, maximizing the efficiency of that human capital to improve the bottom line.

Drawbacks of Cross-Training and How to Mitigate Them

Though employee cross-training is a net positive for hospitality businesses, it has some downsides. Certain employees might be resistant to adding on to the responsibilities of the role they were initially hired for. Given that cross-training requires the mastery of a new learning curve, your team might not want to depart their comfort zone for skill expansion. You can address these drawbacks by initially hand-holding your team as they segue to new roles, albeit briefly. 

Present your cross-training efforts in a graceful manner and your team will prove that much more receptive. Though most employees have a negative perception of cross-training and workloads are already heavy, simply acknowledging such challenges is often enough for the betterment of the group and the overarching business as a whole.

Put Your People First with Harri

Cross-training employees fortifies your hospitality business all the more, making it metaphorically bulletproof and capable of withstanding challenges as they arise. Recognize your business will greatly benefit from cross-training, communicate how such a program will benefit your employees and your hardworking crew will be thankful for the opportunity.

Harri tailors service to each individual hospitality business. Schedule a consultation with us and we’ll make sure your hardworking team is prioritized, paving a path toward better customer service and more revenue. Reach out to Harri today to request a demo!

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