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Xavier Institute of Social Service, Ranchi

Human Resource Development


Assignment
6th Trimester, Session 2010-12
Group-5 Write-Up
On

MULTI-SKILLING
Submitted to;
by; GROUP-5

Submitted

Prof. Sajeet Lakra


Agrawal (05)

Daksh

Administrator,
(14)

Sneha

XISS, Ranchi
Navya Jain (27)
Anand
Shankar (37)

Priyanka Srivastava
(51)
Pooja Rani
(65)

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The matter before you is a culmination of consistent
guidance by our respected Prof. Sajeet Lakra and hard
work of the team involved in the project.
We take this opportunity to express our heartfelt
gratitude to our faculty Prof. Sajeet Lakra, for providing us
with the guidance to take up a project like this and make
a presentation on Multiskilling. The study has not only
given us an insight into the nuances of Human Resource
Development but also proved to be a great learning.
The hard work of the team members has helped us to
make this endeavor a success. We take this opportunity
also to thank all our team members for their contribution,
our friends and family for their unending support.

Thank You
Group V

CONTENTS

S.N
o.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.

Topics

Pg.
No.
Introduction
1
Who Needs to get multiskilled
2
Need for Multiskilling
4
Types of Multiskilling
6
Techniques of Multiskilling
7
Advantages of Multiskilling
17
Barriers to Multiskilling
19
Multiskilling Vs. Work Specialization
20
Case Studies
26
Conclusion
35
Bibliography
37

INTRODUCTION
Organisations typically multiskill with the intent of removing
functional barriers and increasing the flexibility of the
workforce; it is rarely about the ideals of job enrichment and
empowerment as advocated by certain humanistic
organisational change specialists. (Economist, 1991)
Multiskilling refers to training workers to be able to
undertake a wide range of different jobs, instead of just one.

Who needs to get multi-skilled?


It is important to understand who needs to get multi-skilled. Do
they need to be at a particular level or position, or doing a
specific work? Interestingly, most experts do believe that being
multi-skilled is level-agnostic. People trained in technical skills
however need to have mastery over more than one platform
necessitated on account of the high level of obsolescence in the
field.
The non-technical staff can be trained in support functions to save
an organization considerable cost. Training should preferably be in
related/adjacent fields, so that the existing skills of the employees
are appropriately leveraged. Moreover, as these employees
move into managerial or lead positions, knowledge of related field
aids them while interacting and collaborating with their various
stakeholders.
Multi-skilling is not so-much about a particular level or category of
employees. It is about a mind-set. It is about skill sets and you
would agree therefore that it is fairly level-agnostic.

How it helps employees


Reduction in job insecurity
Greater individual productivity
Better growth prospects
Holistic perspective regarding the
organizations business
Can achieve his personal goals
quicker
Multi-skilling is of particular significance for key teams/leadership
in an organization usually span the middle/mid senior levels with
employees who are responsible for driving operations on the
ground. Building multi-skilled capabilities of the middle rung of
people allows organizations to loop in talent for new business
initiatives/ventures.
Benefits to the organization;
Optimal utilization of workforce
Easy deployment of employees across
projects
Increased productivity and better quality
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of deliverables
Creation of a flexible workforce which is
well aware of the organizations needs
Fillip to employee engagement

The Need for Multi-skilling


In an effort to avoid retrenchment, reduce hiring and increase
efficiency, organizations are seeking a multi-skilled workforce.
In an era of specialization, the downturn has interestingly brought
into focus the necessity of having a multi-skilled workforce. Multiskilling is currently the big buzzword. The common belief is that a
multi-skilled workforce can avoid retrenchment and can lead to
increased productivity for the organization in a time of increased
severity, which can directly impact the companys bottom line.
Some would argue of course that there was always a need to be
multi-skilled, but the current economic turmoil has brought the
necessity to the forefront. Possession of an additional skill goes a
long way in opening new channels and opportunities for
professionals, particularly at a time when their particular skill
might not be needed by the organization for its business.
It is a healthy trend from the perspective of the company as well
as the employee, since it allows the company to bring about cost7

cutting in various forms and more importantly, an individual does


not become indispensable for the company, or rather a company
need not depend on a particular person for doing a specialized job
in which he is an expert. Such a workforce would be self-managed
and flexible according to the requirements of the company. From
the perspective of the employee, multi-tasking would allow them
to become diversified and maintain high levels of motivation and
enthusiasm. It would also allow the employees to get involved in
the various aspects of the functioning, work, etc., of their
company, allowing them to be more involved in the performance
of their firm and contributing in preventing lay-offs as well.
There are many who believe that multi-skilled employees are a
great asset to an organization, irrespective of industry conditions.
In

leaner

times,

multi-skilled

workforce

helps

bring

in

operational efficiency and increased productivity, since a smaller


workforce is required to cater to the scaled down demand. But
even when economic conditions are on the upswing, a multiskilled workforce helps in addressing customer demand faster and
better.
If an employee enhances his skill sets, albeit in a phased manner,
he will be far more valuable to his company and the company will
be a more potent force in the market. Not only is this relevant in a
recession, but also in a booming economy where companies
compete to attract and retain the best business.

Types of Multi-skilling
Cordery (1995) classified multi-skilling into 4 types.
1. Vertical Multi-skilling: The extent to which supervisory or
administrative support tasks are learned by individuals.
2. Horizontal Multi-skilling: This is learning skills from
another discipline or function within an organization.
Skill broadening: Where minor elements and tasks are
learned on top of the predominant activity (major task). So
expertise is maintained in the major task with elements
added to increase efficiency.
Cross

skilling/dual

skilling:

Where

another

major

activity is learned in addition to the main craft and a


person is considered competent to carry out any activity
in these two main disciplines.
3. Depth Multi-skilling: This is the acquisition and application
of more complex, specific skills within the same trade or
discipline.
4. Multi-skilled Teams: A multi-skilled team is a group of
individuals who collectively have a range of skills.
Traditional single skilled individuals collected into one
team and managed by one supervisor, or
A team of multi-skilled individuals.
The intent is to have a team where the strengths and
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specialties are combined, which increases the range of skills


available to tackle certain issues.

10

Techniques of Multi-skilling
Multi-skilling can be developed through a variety of techniques
which are as follows:
Coaching and Mentoring
Job-Rotation
Job-Shadowing
Self-Learning
Temping

Team-based Cross-functional projects

Coaching
Coaching is a corrective measure for inadequate performance.
Survey by the International Coach Federation shows that more
than 4,000 companies use a coach for their executives. This
method best suits for the people at the top because if we see on
emotional front, when a person reaches the top, he gets lonely
and it becomes difficult to find someone to talk to. It helps in
finding out the executives specific developmental needs. The
needs can be identified through 360 degree performance reviews.

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Procedure of Coaching
The procedure of the coaching is mutually determined by the
executive and coach. The procedure is followed by successive
counseling and meetings at the executives convenience by the
coach.
1. Understand the participants job, the knowledge, skills, and
attitudes, and resources required to meet the desired
expectation
2. Meet the participant and mutually agree on the objective
that has to be achieved
3. Mutually arrive at a plan and schedule
4. At the job, show the participant how to achieve the
objectives, observe the performance and then provide
feedback
5. Repeat step 4 until performance improves
For the people at middle level management, coaching is more
likely done by the supervisor; however experts from outside the
organization are at times used for up and coming managers.
Again, the personalized approach assists the manger focus on
definite needs and improvement.

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Mentoring
Mentoring is an ongoing relation between senior manager and
junior manager for the purpose of support and guidance.
Mentoring provides guidance and clear understanding of how the
organization goes to achieve its vision and mission to the junior
employee.
The meetings are not as structured and regular than in
coaching. Executive mentoring is generally done by someone
inside the company. The executive can learn a lot from mentoring.
By dealing with diverse mentees, the executive is given the
chance

to

grow

professionally

by developing

management

skills and learning how to work with people with diverse


background, culture, and language and personality types.
Executives also have mentors. In cases where the executive is
new to the organization, a senior executive could be assigned as a
mentor to assist the new executive settled into his role. Mentoring
is one of the important methods for preparing them to be future
executives. This method allows the mentor to determine what is
required to improve mentees performance. Once the mentor
identifies the problem, weakness, and the area that needs to be
worked upon, the mentor can advise relevant training. The
mentor can also provide opportunities to work on special
processes and projects that require use of proficiency.
Some key points on Mentoring
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Mentoring focus on attitude development

Conducted for management-level employees

Mentoring is done by someone inside the company

It is one-to-one interaction

It helps in identifying weaknesses and focus on the area that


needs improvement

Job Rotation
Rotation involves a series of assignments to different positions or
departments for a specified period. At the end of the cycle the
accumulated

evaluations

will

be

used

to

determine

the

preparedness of the trainee and if & where the person will be


permanently assigned. For the executive, job rotation takes on
different perspectives. The executive is usually not simply going
to

another

department.

In

some

vertically

integrated

organizations, for example, where the supplier is actually part of


same organization or subsidiary, job rotation might be to the
supplier to see how the business operates from the supplier point
of view. Learning how the organization is perceived from the
outside broadens the executives outlook on the process of the
organization. The rotation might be to a foreign office to provide a
global perspective. This approach allows the manger to operate in

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diverse roles and understand the different issues that crop up. If
someone is to be a corporate leader, they must have this type
of training. A recent study indicated that the single most
significant factor that leads to leaders achievement was the
variety of experiences in different departments, business units,
cities, and countries.
An

organized

and

helpful

way

to

develop

talent

for

the management or executive level of the organization is job


rotation. It is the process of preparing employees at a lower level
to replace someone at the next higher level. It is generally done
for the designations that are crucial for the effective and efficient
functioning of the organization.

Benefits of Job Rotation


Some of the major benefits of job rotation are:

It provides the employees with opportunities to broaden the


horizon of knowledge, skills, and abilities by working in
different departments, business units, functions, and countries.

Identification of Knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs)


required.

It determines the areas where improvement is required.

Assessment of the employees who have the potential and caliber


for

filling

the
15

position.

For the managers being developed into executive roles, rotation


to different functions in the company is regular carried out.

Train on different tasks/positions

Often used to train entry-level managers

Also used to provide back-up in production positions

Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is a career exploration activity that offers an
opportunity to spend time with a professional currently working in
a persons career field of interest. Job shadowing offers a chance
to see what its actually like working in a specific job.
The new hire may spend one to five days following the routine of
the employee, learning general job responsibilities, observing how
the tasks are carried out, and getting some insight into methods
that allow for efficient handling of the job.
Job shadowing is actually one of the most common of all training
techniques

for

new

employees.

Essentially, job shadowing involves spending a period of time with


a seasoned expert, observing everything that he or she does that
is related to the work that is expected to be accomplished as part
of the daily routine of the job. Involving one new employee to act
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as

the

observer,

and

one

person

to

function

as

the demonstrator, this allows the new hire a chance to get a


handle of what is involved in performing the tasks associated with
the work.
Job shadowing can commence at one of two points in the job
training process. One of the most common is to assign the new
hire to an established employee on the first day. The new hire
may spend one to five days following the routine of the employee,
learning general job responsibilities, observing how the tasks are
carried out, and getting some insight into methods that allow for
efficient handling of the job.
Another option is to implement the job shadowing after a period
of orientation in a classroom setting has taken place. With this
application, the job shadowing allows the new hire to already
have some background into the workings of the company, with
the observation that is picked up during job shadowing building
on that foundation of orientation. The combination of structured
educational classes with the job observation of an employee with
extensive work experience works very well in a number of
settings.
The concept of job shadowing has many advantages. First, the
new hire may often feel intimidated about performing tasks for
the first time. By allowing the new person to job shadow a long

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time employee for a day or two, this can often build up the
confidence

of

the

new

employee.

Along

with

this

advantage, job shadowing allows the new hire to see procedures


and methods in actual situations. This can help to bring to life
some of the scenarios that were outlined in the training materials,
making them much more real to the new hire than they were in
the safe environment of the classroom.
A third benefit of job shadowing is that the new hire often has a
chance to begin building rapport with other employees, which can
help to integrate him or her into the job team more quickly.
Acceptance into the group can often help the new employee relax
and focus on learning the best ways to get things done, rather
than being apprehensive about fitting into the corporate culture.

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Self Learning
In self-directed learning (SDL), the individual takes the
initiative and the responsibility for what occurs. Individuals select,
manage, and assess their own learning activities, which can be
pursued at any time, in any place, through any means, at any
age. In schools, teachers can work toward SDL a stage at a time.
Teaching emphasizes SDL skills, processes, and systems rather
than content coverage and tests. For the individual, SDL involves
initiating

personal

challenge

activities

and

developing

the

personal qualities to pursue them successfully.

Temping
Temping means working in short employment stints with a variety
of

clients,

usually

through

a temping

agency

or staffing

firm. Although temporary, the worker bases his/her working life


around this kind of work as it offers increased flexibility and
variety. It is a tri-party agreement, between the client company,
the third party vendor and the employee (also known as associate
or temp).
The temp workers work in the facility of the client companies, but
receive salary and benefits from the temp agencies.

19

Indian companies are home to many unique projects and


solutions. Many of these require people with specific skill sets to
deliver them. Hence, organizations are often faced with the
requirement of knowledge workers to facilitate the delivery of
such projects. This has led to the growth of what is called shortterm project-based hiring or temping.
While

large

global

organizations

follow

this

recruitment

mechanism, in India it is gradually gaining popularity. Small and


medium

sized

organizations

specifically

from

the

Indian

Information Technology (IT) industry are employing temp workers.


These organizations are opting for temping for many reasons
some of which are:
Temps or contract workers are on the payrolls of a third-party
staffing organization and as such organizations do not need
to

worry

about

employment,

recruitment

and

even

replacements.
They save on the cost of training as the staffing form
typically sends in batches of knowledge workers according to
the project.
They can drastically cut down non-productive staff costs
especially when they do not have the visibility of a similar
project in future.

20

They can reduce the number of staff on bench and hence


save on salaries.
They can pay relatively more to contract workers and get
work done rather than recruiting them for long-term and
paying perks and retirement benefits besides huge salaries.

21

Learning by Doing
New forms of learning by doing seem to be emerging. Technology
could play a role in finding innovative ways to enable skills
development and greater understanding of personal actions,
reactions and decisions.

22

Advantages of multi-skilling
1. Flexibility
Workers who are able to perform a large number of tasks can
fill in for other workers, increasing workforce flexibility.
2. Communication
Knowledge of various tasks can increase the understanding of
other tasks and improve coordination.
3. Positive effects on innovation
The processes of improving design concepts are easier because
of the individuals multi knowledge.
4. Employment security
A multi-skilled workforce is not as threatened if skills become
obsolete because of new technology.
5. Project efficiency
Through increased level of multi-skilling, work can be reorganized so that it can be performed most efficiently. Multiskilled workers carry projects through, sometimes all the way
from start to finish often taking project ownership.

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6. Competitive market
Cost saving are passed onto the customer, through the
decrease of labor cost due to reduction of turnaround time and
number of workers involved.
7. Management effectiveness
Multi-skilling is most valuable in the areas of management.
Here it effects the reduction of product completion time (e.g.
reduced subsequent production line delays), the decrease of
project planning time (e.g. only one employee has to learn the
details of the project), and the cutback of administration costs
(e.g. faster completion of pay claims and materials billing).

24

Barriers to Multi-skilling
Demotivates intelligent and aggressive employees who seek
specific responsibility.
Eventually creates a number of employees with limited job
knowledge.
Encourages generalization, more appropriate for developing
line managers than functional staff.
Sometimes, there is an undercurrent of frustration.
New jobs, environment and learning can unnerve employees.
Employees fear not living up to expectations.

Employees are uncomfortable with the changes and cannot


deal with the conflict of the role and their personality.

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MULTI-SKILLING vs. WORK


SPECIALIZATION
Work Specialization
It refers to the degree to which tasks in the organization are
subdivided into separate jobs. In work specialization, following are
the characteristics:
The entire job is broken down into steps, each step completed
by a separate individual.
Individual workers specialize in doing part of an activity.
Involves repetitive performance of a few skills.
Can be viewed as a means to make the most efficient use of
employee's skills.
Some task requires highly developed skills.
Others can be performed by the untrained.

Division of Labor
Makes efficient use of employees skills.
Increases employee's skills through repetition.
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Less between-job downtime increases productivity.


Specialized training is more efficient.
Allows the use of specialized equipment.

By the late 1940s most manufacturing jobs in industrialized


countries

were

being

done

with

high

work

specialization.

Management saw this as a means to make the most efficient use


of its employees skills.
For much of the first half of this century, managers viewed work
specialization as an unending source of increased productivity.
But, by the 1960s there was increasing evidence that a good
27

thing has been carried too far. The point had been reached in
some jobs where the human diseconomies from specialization
which surfaced as boredom, fatigue, stress, low productivity, poor
quality, increased absenteeism and high turnover more than
offset the economic advantages.

Work specialization as a theory is in direct contrast to that of


multi-skilling. A comparative study of the two is as follows:
MULTI-SKILLING
Makes employee stretch to

WORK SPECIALIZATION
Jobs can become too

the limits
Needs constant support

simplified
Employees become bored

and thorough guidance

and tired, safety problems

throughout the process of

and accident rates

acquiring multiple skills


Being a developmental

increases
Absenteeism rises

process makes it slow


Very Sensitive issue, it is

Quality of work may suffer

imperative to find right


person for right job in right
time
Small businesses by

Industries employ

necessity have multi-skilled

specialized workers

people

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The parameters for comparison between


Multi-skilling and Work Specialization
There are many parameters for such comparison, some of them
being:
1. Quality
The ability of staff to produce high-quality products and services
can be affected by job design. This includes avoiding errors in the
short term, but also includes designing jobs which encourage staff
to improve the job itself in such a way as to make errors less
likely.
2. Speed
Sometimes speed of response is the dominant objective to be
achieved in job design. For example, the way in which the jobs of
emergency service personnel are organized (the range of tasks
for which they are trained, the sequence of activities in their
approved procedures, the autonomy which they have to decide on
appropriate action, and so on) will go a long way to determine
their ability to respond promptly to emergencies and perhaps
save lives.
3. Dependability
Dependable supply of goods and services is usually influenced, in
some way, by job design. For example, in the postal services
working arrangements, multi-skilling, accurate use of sorting
29

equipment through good staff-machine interface design, and the


design of postal staffs clothing, can all aid dependable delivery
of letters and parcels.
4. Flexibility
Job design can affect the ability of the operation to change the
nature of its activities. New product or service flexibility, mix
flexibility,

volume

flexibility

and

delivery

flexibility

are

all

dependent to some extent on job design. (See Chapter 2 for a full


description of these different types of flexibility). For example,
staffs who have been trained in several tasks (multi-skilling) may
find it easier to cope with a wide variety of models and new
product or service introductions.
5. Cost
All the elements of job design described above will have an effect
on the productivity, and therefore the cost, of the job. Productivity
in this context means the ratio of output to labor input: for
example, the number of customers served per hour or the
number of products made per worker.
In addition, job design will influence two other particularly
important objectives.
6. Health and safety
Whatever else a job design achieves, it must not endanger the
well-being of the person who does the job, other staff of the

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operation, the customers who might be present in the operation,


or those who use any products made by the operation.
7. Quality of working life
The design of any job should take into account its effect on job
security,

intrinsic

interest,

variety

in

it,

opportunities

for

development, stress level and attitude of the person performing


the job.

PARAMETERS
Quality
Speed
Dependability
Flexibility
Cost
Health and safety
Quality of

MULTI-SKILLING

WORK

High
High
High
High
High
High
Low

SPECIALIZATION
High
Moderate
Moderate
Low
Low
Low
Moderate

working life

31

CASE STUDIES in MULTISKILLING


MULTI-SKILLING INITIATIVE: INDRADHANUSH
@ ACC Concrete
The concept of Indradhanush challenges the theory of one person
- one role. The aim of this development model is to train people
and make them green in multiple competencies. The model
includes a carefully crafted Multi-skill index to measure progress.
As explained by Dr. Tanaya Mishra, Chief People Officer, ACC
Concrete, the model encompasses 3 phases:
1. Plotting a multi-skilled profile for each of the plant personnel.
2. Developmental initiatives through OTJ training.
3. Assessments and remapping.
The company prepared a current status skill matrix for each plant
based on inputs from three different sources:a) extracts of the internal dialogue process
b) review ratings from immediate supervisors and reviewers

32

c) results of 15 different subject assessment papers conducted


for each employee

This helped the company maintain objectivity in the overall


model.

Each color code had an interpretation:


Red: Not capable of handling the job role even with support.
Yellow: Capable of handling the function under supervision
and support.
Green: Capable of handling the function independently.
Each color box was then assigned a score. Once complete,
the

whole

matrix

was converted

understood index.

33

into

commonly

The programme began with 2.26 index points out of


5. Within the first 6 months, the index moved up by 22
percent.
By the end of 2010, the target was to achieve an index of
3.5. Efforts

were

made

using

well

structured

on-the-

job training through coaches who are not only experts in the
core subject but also specially trained in coaching skills.
The process is now well established and has brought
tremendous benefits to the organization, in terms of helping
it maintain its lean and agile structure, which in turn boosts
competitiveness.
The whole process has also answered issues related to role
enhancement, increase in operational efficiency, optimization of
manpower, better shift management and leave plans, career
development, filling recruitment gaps and succession planning.

34

CROSS-TRAINING FOR MULTI-SKILLING @


DAISHOWA-MARUBENI INTERNATIONAL
(DMI) LTD. PEACE RIVER PULP DIVISION
Background
Peace River Pulp, a Japanese-owned unit, located in the northwest
of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is a nonunionized mill that was
constructed in 1989 as a green-field plant. The plant started
operations in July 1990 and began to produce hardwood pulp, an
aspen-derived product, and softwood pulp, a spruce- and pinederived product. Mill production has subsequently improved to the
point where output is 20 percent higher than was originally
planned.
Typically, one quarter (1/4) of the total production is softwood
pulp and three quarter (3/4) is hardwood pulp for sale to the world
market. Hardwood pulp, blended with or without softwood pulps
makes an excellent printing and writing grade of paper, providing
bulk and a good printing surface.

Workforce
There are approximately 342 permanently employed plant
workers, 100 contractually employed workers, and 250 seasonally
employed forestry workers. Sixty percent of the permanently
35

employed

workers have had no

previous experience with

traditional management systems in the pulping industry, while 30


percent came directly from academic institutions and had little or
no work experience.
Cross-functional teams called Home Station Groups (HSGs) have
been established, which depend on a participative style of
management. Each of the fifteen HSGs is responsible for a
specific aspect of the manufacturing process, and is composed of
approximately twelve technicians, together representing people
from all process-related departments in the mill. The HSGs are
distributed throughout the six organizational departments of the
facility. These are:

Woodlands, which is responsible for harvesting, log hauling,


log storage, and chipping consisting of 12 forestry personnel.
Forestry personnel typically specialize in a specific aspect of
their profession, such as silviculture or chip procurement,
and are rotated into a different position every two to four
years.
Operations,
operating

the

which
pulp

is

responsible

manufacturing

for

monitoring

process.

and

Employees

progress through 7-tiered technical progression system,


each tier having separate standardized kill set, which cannot
be bypassed.

36

Technical, that is responsible for process engineering,


quality control, and operation of the environmental and
central lab.
Mechanical

Maintenance,

which

is

responsible

for

numerous maintenance tasks, such as repairing machinery,


welding, and pipefitting. Like the operations department, the
maintenance department relies on a technical progression
system in which employees advance through seven tiers of
training, after which they are eligible to apply for one of the
departmental lead positions.
Electrical
responsible

Services
for

and

Instrumentation,

instrumentation

and

which

is

process-control

maintenance. Every electrician is also expected to train in


instrumentation, and vice versa. Because individuals trained
in both professions can find job opportunities in other
industries, such as oil and gas, this cross-training practice
has helped protect the company from higher turnover.
Engineering, that is responsible for project design and
implementation.

Why the need for Multi-skilling at Peace


River Pulp Mill?

37

DMIs Flexibility in terms of production: Organizational flexibility


takes one of two forms:
Uniformity flexibility
Product-range flexibility

Product-range flexibility refers to a plants ability to switch


smoothly from an old product to a novel product; an example
would be an automobile assembly factory where a different car
is produced each year. A company requiring this kind of
flexibility should focus on educating its workers with general
trouble-shooting skills that are not specific to a particular
product.
Uniformity flexibility refers to a plants ability to smoothly
switch back and forth between different products; an example
would be a pulp mill, where production constantly switches
from hard wood pulp, an aspen derived product, to soft wood
pulp, a spruce- and pine-derived product. These plants should
focus on educating their employees with skills specific to the
manufacturing process, for they will be of the most benefit.
Peace River Mill hence requires elaborate skill-set in its
workforce.

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39

Issues in Multi-skilling
1. How many skills to be absorbed by each?
There is a Law of diminishing returns to increased no. of skills
through cross-training. Park(1991) found that the most significant
improvement in flexibility occurred when employees were trained
in two sets of skills instead of just one.
Eg. Training in the skills required for pipefitting and welding,
rather than just pipefitting alone.

2. How to improve flexibility?


Skill Chaining is the best technique which requires each worker
to train in a unique combination of skills (Brusco and Johns 1998)
such that they are the most productive.
Eg. A pipe-fitter is required in the maintenance department of a
pulp mill. Worker can be trained in both pipe-fitting and welding.
Asymmetric training program is much more conducive to chaining
than a symmetric training program. However, if a training
program produces worker skill sets that are too diverse, it may
turn out that too few employees are trained in the high-workload
jobs of the organization.

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3. Workers should be Generalists or Specialists?


The more extensive the cross-training program, the more difficult
it is for employees to specialize in specific skill sets (Stanislaw et
al. 1994). This problem can be avoided by separating highly
specialized jobs from the cross-training program.
Another solution is to have each worker completely specialize in
one skill and master at least 50 percent of another skill set Brusco and Johns (1998). They found that when employees are
cross-trained in this way, about 87 percent of the cost savings
available from completely mastering the second skill set were
attained, on average.

4. How to deal with Employee Resistance?


Cross-training for multi-skilling will tend to reduce the thats not
my job mentality in the work force (Klein 1998).
Some employees may feel that training, work, and responsibility
now required are not worth the increase in pay being offered.
They choose to stay in the positions they had occupied before the
implementation of the initiative. However, as the cross-training
becomes more entrenched in the organizational culture, the
number of employees who refuse to participate begins to
decrease.

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42

Conclusion
Multi-skilling ensures that workers are idle only when there are
no jobs to complete, not when there are no jobs that a
particular worker can complete. It therefore allows companies
like Peace River Pulp to use a minimum-staffed strategyto
use only the minimum number of employees necessary to
maintain production.
Multi-skilling is particularly suited to the cost-reduction strategy
of

Peace

River

Pulp

because

it

operates

continuous

production system, within which it is very difficult to divide jobs


into individual units. The more knowledgeable workers are
about the whole process, the more proficient they become.
Cross-trained employees are less likely to resist technological
innovation, since it is less likely to be perceived as a threat to
their job security if they are used to moving from one skill to
another.
The more extensive the multi-skilling, the more difficult it is for
employees to specialize in specific skill sets. Companies must
therefore find a balance between special skills and a general
understanding. One solution is to separate highly specialized
jobs from the cross-training program.
Multi-skilling is particularly important in the pulping industry
because

of

computerized

control

43

systems

that

require

operators to have a well-founded comprehension of the entire


pulping process. Cross-training allows employees to develop
the intellectual mastery that has become a key performance
factor.
Skill-based pay is the most appropriate system for rewarding
multi-skilled workers, but three problems may arise:
It sometimes results in very high wage levels;
Employees may concentrate too much on acquiring new
skills, rather than on completing their assigned jobs; and
It is difficult to find new challenges for employees who
have mastered all the designated skills.
Only the last problem has arisen at Peace River Pulp, which
finds it difficult to maintain a low turnover rate among its more
experienced employees.

44

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Human Resource Development, Jon M. Werner
& Randy L. Desimone, Pg. 151-201,Eighth
Edition, Cengage Learning India Pvt. Ltd.
http://wps.pearsoned.co.uk/ema_uk_he_slack_o
psman_4/17/4472/1144953.cw/index.html
(Retrieved February,2012)
http://www.hrprofessor.com/article6.html
(Retrieved February,2012)
http://hsc.csu.edu.au/ind_tech/ind_study/2530/
Multiskilling.html
(Retrieved February,2012)

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