Business Process Improvement

Employee Cross Training: How Small Governments Can Improve Efficiency and Reduce Their Risk

Artwork from GFR

Finance offices in small governments face a unique challenge that isn’t shared by many of their peers in midsized and large governments: limited personnel. Although most finance departments—large and small—wouldn’t mind having an extra set of hands, few manage to cover as many functional areas with as few people as small governments do. And having a limited number of employees—sometimes only two or three—can mean that only one person in the entire organization knows how to complete a given task. So, what happens if that person becomes ill or wants to take a vacation? Often it means bringing a laptop to the beach to make sure payroll is run properly or coming back early from an illness. But what if there were another option that didn’t involve hiring another person or adding FTEs?

Employee-cross training can provide a solution. Several small jurisdictions have managed to reduce the risk that comes from having only a single person in the organization capable of completing critical tasks by creating redundancies via cross-training, done informally in organizations of all types and sizes. Training employees to complete a task outside of their job descriptions may sound like simply adding extra work, but it’s typically done to cover for emergencies and doesn’t include the planning or forethought found in a formalized cross-training program.

The following case studies explore how two small governments used employee cross-training to strengthen overall organizational capacity, motivate their employees, and reduce risk.


  • Publication date: October 2020
  • Author: Mark Mack
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