Multi skilling

From CEOpedia | Management online

Multi skilling - the term used in Human resources management, defining the acquisition of new skills and functions and expanding those already acquired by developing the scope and level of competence of employees. This is specifically intended to improve profitability, flexibility, and quality of service in the enterprise [1]. By introducing such a solution employees have a chance to get promoted [2]. Employees possess a wider range of tasks, abilities, competences, and knowledge [3]. It is for that reason that multi skilled worker has better access to the labour market and quality job opportunities. In most cases an employee inclined to be multi skilled is additionally rewarded.

Along with technological progress, adapting to changes in the labor market, multi skilled workers are desired and well regarded by employers. Multi skilling is an ability to cope with change, often based on highly qualified, open-minded workforce, being able to work in a team. Through the widely understood development on the labor market, employees encourage flexible working practises and multi skilling [4]. These requirements can only be met by being cognitively far more flexible.

Types of multi skilling

Two main types of multi skilling can be distinguished [5] [6]

  • vertical multi skilling - an employee learns the tasks and responsibilities of coworkers who work at lower-level or a higher-level position
  • horizontal (lateral) multi skilling - an employee learns tasks and responsibilities of coworkers from another discipline

Benefits of multi skilling

Multi skilling introduces extended benefits for both employees and employers [7] [8] [9] [10]:

  • variety of work performed
  • growth of degree of flexibility in professional duties
  • the multi-skilled, experienced employee begins to be more valuable
  • improvement of employability
  • an employer can deal with a temporary lack of employees
  • improvement of organization efficiency
  • improvement of cooperation between management and subordinates
  • improvement of service quality
  • more challenging, stimulating work
  • increasing motivation
  • self-confidence increase
  • possibility to exploit the potential of the individual
  • reduction of expenses in the enterprise
  • possibility to minimize downtimes
  • increase in employee productivity

Examples of Multi skilling

  • A customer service specialist may be trained in marketing or sales, in addition to their customer service skills, to help them better support customers.
  • A construction worker may be trained in welding and carpentry, in addition to their standard building skills, to increase their value to the company.
  • An administrative assistant may be trained in accounting, in addition to their administrative skills, to give them the ability to help manage accounts and other financial tasks.
  • An IT specialist may be trained in coding, in addition to their IT skills, to give them the ability to create and maintain software applications.
  • A nurse may be trained in social work, in addition to their medical skills, to give them the ability to better understand and care for their patients.

Limitations of Multi skilling

Multi skilling is a valuable tool for Human Resources Management, however, it can be limited in the following ways:

  • It can be difficult to keep up with the constantly evolving requirements and skills needed in today's workplace, as they are constantly changing. This can lead to difficulties in properly training and assessing employees who need to be multi skilled.
  • It can be difficult to assess the effectiveness of multi skilled employees. As employees acquire new skills and competencies, it can be hard to determine whether or not they are able to use them effectively in a given situation.
  • The cost of training and developing employees to become multi skilled can be expensive. This can be an issue for small businesses that do not have the resources to invest in multi skilled employees.
  • It can be difficult to manage the workload of multi skilled employees. As they have a wider range of skills, they may be required to handle a variety of tasks simultaneously, which can lead to burnout and fatigue.
  • Multi skilling can lead to job insecurity for employees, as they may not be able to focus on a single skill set and may be at risk of being replaced by someone with multiple skills.

Other approaches related to Multi skilling

Multi skilling can be achieved through various approaches. These include:

  • Job rotation - This involves the movement of employees from one job to another on a regular basis in order to gain new skills. This can help to reduce job boredom and create a more motivated workforce.
  • Cross-training - This involves training employees in different areas and skills, so that they can switch between roles. This helps to create a flexible workforce, which can adapt to changing needs.
  • Specialization - This is focused on the development of specific skills and knowledge within a particular role in order to become an expert in that area. This can help to improve the quality of service and reduce costs.

In summary, multi skilling is an important part of human resources management and can be achieved through a range of approaches, such as job rotation, cross-training and specialization. This can help to create a flexible and motivated workforce, which is better positioned to respond to changing needs.


  1. Dhar R.L. 2008, p. 157
  2. Bolweg J.F. 2012, p. 39
  3. Carysforth C., Neild M. 2002, p. 197-202
  4. Armstrong M., Brown D. 2006, p. 77, p.130
  5. Dhar R.L. 2008, p. 157
  6. Stredwick J., Ellis S. 2005, p. 58-64
  7. Carysforth C., Neild M. 2002, p. 197-202
  8. Walter M. 2014, p. 17-27
  9. Dhar R.L. 2008, p. 157
  10. Stredwick J., Ellis S. 2005, p. 58-64

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Author: Oksana Szłapowska