As HR professionals, we’ve all heard of onboarding. It’s the process new hires go through to get ‘on-board’ with a company, from job acceptance to team introductions and the training needed to become productive in a new role. An onboarding program is vital to making a new hire feel part of a workplace and its operations – physically, emotionally, and professionally.

But onboarding is expensive, costing around $18,982 per new worker. And not only is it costly – it’s also a gamble. Even the most rigorous of screening and interviewing processes do not fully mitigate the risk of a new hire not working out.  

So, at a time when hiring and remuneration budgets are tight and companies perhaps can’t afford to fill a vacancy with a new hire, cross-boarding can be considered as a more cost-effective and less risky alternative. 

What is cross-boarding?

Cross-boarding is the process of looking at existing employees, assessing who might be suitable for a vacant position, and training and adapting the chosen employee in connection to the promotion or change of position. It’s about leveraging existing resources in the organisation to perform tasks that arise in the company, rather than searching for new employees.

The benefits of cross-boarding

  • Less risk: With the cross-boarding route, some degree of risk remains. The cross-boarded employee could well turn out to be less proficient in this new role than in their previous. But cross-boarding is still substantially less risky than hiring an external candidate, whose personality an employer might not be able to fully gauge until a few months into their tenure. 
  • Cross-boarding is more cost-effective: The training costs for upskilling an existing employee are substantially lower than having to onboard an external one. While a newcomer may need information about the corporate culture, values, and company goals, the cross-boarded employee doesn’t. A permanent employee is already familiar with all these. This saves time and means quicker time to productivity.
  • Increases employee engagement: While certain employees may find comfort in sticking to the same responsibilities day in, day out, others may occasionally seek a change. Rather than lose a potentially valued employee who’s grown disinterested in their role, employers with a skills gap to fill can offer that employee a change in role. Not only will this make the cross-boarded employee feel recognised; the opportunity to learn new skills will boost engagement levels. 
  • Boosts retention: Further, the act of an internal transfer could also be motivating for other employees – who may view this as an opportunity for them to move into new roles in the future. If this is an option, your employees might be less inclined to leave the company when seeking a new opportunity – working wonders for your retention rates!

Cross-boarding considerations

To identify a potential cross-boarding candidate, HR and managers must keep an ear to the ground to assess which candidates have the right skills, or – if the skills aren’t in place yet – potential, to fit the new role. 

HR technology providing an at-a-glance overview of employees’ existing skills and qualifications can help hiring managers to make informed decisions of this nature. HROnboard’s parent company, ELMO, offers a ‘Hire’ module, which enables managers to search for existing skills in their organisation using a searchable skills library. 

The cross-board-ee may also require a new contract if their role has changed substantially. HROnboard offers contracting solutions that automatically generate personalised contracts and policies, removing the administrative burden while providing complete oversight of the process. 

In larger organisations, where different departments’ operations can vary considerably – some degree of traditional onboarding may be required as part of the overall cross-boarding experience. In such cases, onboarding tools – such as those provided by HROnboard – providing induction solutions can be helpful when covering the basics of a new working environment. 

HROnboard, an ELMO company, offers a best-in-class software solution that reduces the amount of time HR teams and leaders spend securing the best candidates and undertaking the critical onboarding process for new hires. Our solution also helps manage internal employee role changes and can create a smooth and seamless process for exiting employees. To find out more, reach us here.

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