Five Reasons You Need to Cross-Train Your In-House Building Engineers

A Group of Male Technicians Standing in a Line

It’s no surprise that maintenance technicians and building engineers in the facilities maintenance industry are considered to be “jacks of all trades.” These versatile, multi-talented individuals are required to possess technical skills and capabilities outside of just HVAC repair or electrical installation.

Rather than specializing in one field of maintenance, facilities maintenance technicians and/or building engineers should be provided with the opportunity to expand their skill set through continuing education. That’s where cross-training comes in. Cross-training–teaching employees the skills and knowledge needed to perform other job functions has many benefits, from increased job satisfaction to improved safety and productivity.

Here are five reasons you need to cross-train your in-house building engineers:

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Improved Job Satisfaction and Retention: The labor market is tight, and workers have more choices than ever, so you need to stand out as an employer of choice. Today’s employees want to work for an organization committed to employee development, which can include clear pathways for advancement, continuous learning opportunities, and leadership development programs. Offering cross-training opportunities creates new avenues for building engineers to grow professionally and expand their skill sets, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and engagement.

Ongoing training also helps reduce turnover, allowing you to retain talented engineers on your team. LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report found that employees who aren’t learning will leave, so businesses are prioritizing learning to keep and develop employees. According to the report, learning and development are becoming more central, cross-functional, and strategic.

Training also helps you hire and promote from within. Rather than going through an expensive hiring process, you can invest in your current talent.

Enhanced Productivity and Engagement: Building engineers who have cross-trained in multiple areas are better equipped to handle a wider range of tasks and projects. This can improve productivity and efficiency as they can take on more responsibilities and quickly complete tasks. Understanding what others do and evaluating their own roles can also provide opportunities for employees to refine processes.

Greater Flexibility and Adaptability: Cross-trained building engineers are more adaptable to changes in the workplace, giving you increased flexibility to respond to scheduling needs and fluctuating workflows. When building engineers have multiple skill sets, they can be moved between projects and tasks more easily and are more likely to be able to help out in other areas of the organization when needed. This not only increases efficiency but also helps reduce the need for outside contractors to come in to help with specific troubleshooting and diagnostic scenarios, creating additional cost savings as well.

Improved Collaboration and Communication: Cross-training encourages collaboration and communication across different parts of the organization and promotes teamwork, which can help to break down silos between various departments or teams. It allows employees to see what their co-workers do and share their expertise, making everyone feel more valued. Strengthening relationships can help to improve overall teamwork and productivity.

Increasing everyone’s understanding of the different roles and requirements within the building engineering team can also lead to new solutions and increased efficiency as workers better understand how they can help one another.

Better Risk and Safety Management: Unexpected gaps in coverage can be costly, hinder productivity and decrease service. Cross-training can help ensure that team members are always available with the necessary skills and knowledge to address any issues that arise. Whether an employee is out sick, on vacation, or leaves the company, having others who can step in ensures the continuity of operations, mitigating safety risks and preventing small problems from turning into larger ones.

Effectively Cross-Training Building Engineers

With proper cross-training, your employees can build on their existing knowledge, develop new skills, uncover hidden talents, become better workers, and position themselves for future upward growth.

When determining the best way to cross-train employees, you’ll want to identify the skills and tasks needed in your business, which employees are already well-suited for those needs and where you can fill in the gaps. Training that offers built-in assessments can help you understand where employees are so you can clearly outline where you want them to be.

You can cross-train employees more efficiently by customizing training to each learner. Ideally, your training program will let you create curated learning paths, so your building engineers can learn the right skills in the proper order without having to duplicate what they already know.

With 300+ hours of expert-led training and hands-on simulations in HVAC, plumbing, facilities maintenance, electrical and more, Interplay Learning’s training platform is a one-stop shop for efficient skilled trades training. With Interplay, you’ll gain access to the resources you need to build, upskill, and cross-train a competent facilities maintenance team in weeks, not years.