The Advantages of Building an Agile Work Force
September 24, 2018
Imagine if you had a football team where each player was proficient in every position. Think of the advantages. A running back with the mindset of a linebacker could use that knowledge to avoid tackles. A defensive guard could read the body language of the center and anticipate the snap. Each member of the team would have a very good idea of each other’s job. This in turn would make them better at their own assignment.
While there are no fantasy leagues for shop workers just yet, there are still practical benefits to cross training our fabrication professionals in different disciplines throughout the plant. With a growing business and employment levels at an all time high, businesses have to be more strategic in how they deploy human capital. Cross training is one method we at Laser Precision work to employ.
What Cross Training Entails
Whenever possible, we like to give employees the opportunity to move out of their assigned duties and try someone else’s job for a while. Under the watchful eyes of a mentor, they learn the particular safety issues of the equipment, how to interpret tight tolerances on prints, how to set up the machine, check the first part against the specs and run the job.
Moving People Up
Some of our workers start their career with us where they are needed them at the time. But their skill sets might match another position even better. We always strive to hire go-getters, no matter what the job title. So, it’s not unusual for someone to look around for opportunities to take on more responsibility. Giving them a chance to try something different stretches their mental muscles and explore new possibilities. If they like a position and show talent, we don’t hesitate to assist in getting them training or the certification they might need to grow in that position. (See the article, “Customized Internship Programs.”)
Consistency of workflow is another advantage. We know people get sick, need family time or just deserve a vacation. An agile work force allows us to cover for vacancies and send in backup wherever it’s needed on the line. With talent in depth at every position, we’re better equipped to handle the unforeseen without jeopardizing our on-time delivery record. We even have engineers who started with the company as press brake operators and managers who are certified as welders. Any one of them are happy to jump right in to get orders moving down the line.
Shaking It Up
Going through the same motions every day can get a bit monotonous. At times, it’s nice just to change up the routine. When we switch positions on the floor, people usually come back to their original assignment refreshed, more alert, and happy for the break. They have a better idea of what happens upstream and downstream of their positions and why certain guidelines are in place. Knowing they are empowered to make a move if they choose and encouraged to climb as high as they can go creates a lot of job satisfaction. And we get a lot of gratification watching them grow.