While it makes perfect sense to expect your employees to tackle the responsibilities they were hired to tackle, there are many reasons why you should encourage your staff to step outside their comfort zones and work with folks outside their own departments — at least from time to time.
You never know when collaboration between your salespeople and engineers, for example, could end up producing an innovative tool that becomes popular overnight. Beyond that, encouraging your employees to work in other departments has a slew of other benefits, including:
You can’t expect your employees to do the same tasks over and over again in perpetuity. Sooner or later, they’re likely to burn out. By encouraging interdepartmental collaboration, you’re giving your employees something to be excited about simply by switching things up. As a result, workers remain motivated and culture stays strong.
According to our Employee Engagement Report, a mere 25% of workers feel as though their companies offer adequate professional development opportunities — this despite the fact that many workers crave them. Allow your workers to regularly put their heads together with colleagues in other departments, and you give them a way to develop new talents and learn new things — all without having to open up the company purse.
Two minds — or three or four — are often better than one. When employees from different departments that don’t usually work with each other get together, there’s no limit to the ideas that can materialize in conversation. Everyone has different backgrounds, different beliefs, and different approaches to work. You never know when the unlikeliest of people — say, someone in finance and someone in legal — will come up with a game-changing idea.
When employees only focus on their own responsibilities, it’s extremely difficult — if not altogether impossible — for them to understand how the company makes its secret sauce. On the other hand, when workers are able to join other departments once in a while, they gain a whole new perspective on how a different facet of their organization operates. This enables them to better understand the bigger picture, and they are also able to bring their own unique perspectives to new problems.
In our engagement report, we also uncovered the fact that coworkers are the number one thing employees like about their jobs. When you let employees work with their peers in other departments, you increase the chances that additional personal bonds will be formed. As a result, the team becomes noticeably stronger in the aggregate.
Companies certainly need to hire individuals to fill specific roles within their organization. But just because someone is hired as a graphic designer doesn’t mean he or she is unable to help drive sales or review code, among other things.
Create an environment that encourages interdepartmental collaboration. Not only will your team become stronger, but they’ll also be motivated to produce even better ideas — a win-win for everyone.