HR Mavericks

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When a vacant position will not be filled with a new employee, that work still needs to get done. The process of distributing those responsibilities is called crossboarding, and we're here to share best practices for it.

What Is Crossboarding?

Crossboarding is the process of fulfilling the workload of a vacant position instead of hiring a new employee. This happens for a number of reasons. Some common reasons include the downsizing of a company, elimination of a position, or an employee vacating a position. The company must train employees on the new responsibilities, provide whatever resources are needed to equip them, and adjust compensation accordingly.

How Is Crossboarding Beneficial?

The best thing a company can do in any situation is keep it simple. Crossboarding is not only a simple solution to a vacant or dissolved position, it also has these added benefits.
  • Less risky for employers. Given that the company has chosen an existing employee who is reliable and capable, crossboarding is a less risky option in comparison to hiring a new employee who may or may not prove to be so or to choose to remain with the organization.
  • Increases opportunities for existing employees. For employees who are motivated by additional power and responsibility, crossboarding presents opportunities to move up in the business.
  • More efficient. Existing employees already understand how the company works and may even have prior knowledge of the responsibilities associated with the new role. The company saves the time and resources it takes to onboard and train a new employee with no prior understanding of the company.

How to Crossboard

It can seem intimidating at first, but crossboarding can be broken down into distinct steps.

Step 1: Select and Recruit

Once the decision has been made to crossboard instead of hire, there are additional decisions to be made. Who you select to take on the additional workload, how many will be involved, and what adjustments will be made to compensation are all initial decisions to be made before moving forward. Set a meeting involving the selected staff member and appropriate management to discuss appropriate goals and lay out a realistic timeline for the transition. This can be an opportune time to address personal goals to see where the redefining of the position fits in light of their career path. The transitional window of time depends on the complexity of the processes being taken on, but typically it is about three months. In situations where it is feasible, include the employee whose role is being phased out when discussing the details of the transition. Having them outline their responsibilities clearly can ease the employee(s) learning processes as they take on the additional workload.

Step 2: Train

With the help of the employee whose role is being phased out (if possible), departmental management and staff create a role-specific training schedule. Here, management can provide valuable input as to what staff members to involve in training the crossboarded employee. This plan should include logistics such as the training timeline, who will be heading what aspects of training and when, scheduled meetings to check in on progress, etc. From there, ensure proper implementation and adjust the plan as needed.

Step 3: Equip

Provide everything your crossboarding employee needs to do their job effectively. This includes things such as additional filing space, technology, courses, research, resources, and the like.

Step 4: Assist

Follow up with your crossboarded employee throughout the training and adjustment periods. Offer to request additional resources that might make their job easier, additional training if needed, or to adjust the training and adjustment plan to better meet their learning curve and style.

Step 5: Compensate

Where this step becomes implemented varies. However, make sure to scale the crossboarded employee's compensation to match their increased workload and/or responsibilities.

Crossboarding Best Practices

When moving forward with crossboarding, keep these things in mind.


Even if you do not see a need for crossboarding in the future, there are many benefits to preparing for it, even if crossboarding never happens. This includes making cross-training a common practice throughout your organization. Having cross-training ingrained in your company’s culture has the additional benefits of increasing empathy, maintaining consistent productivity in cases of employee absences, and enabling employees to lean on one another in seasons where the workload temporarily increases.

Provide Support

In situations where an employee moves to a different department, introduce them to their new team and assign them a buddy to help them settle into their new role. Ease the transition so they don't feel thrown to the wolves.

Follow Up

Have regular progress interviews scheduled to ensure the crossboarding procedure remains on track. Make adjustments as needed. Once the process is finished, invite feedback from all concerned so you can improve your crossboarding procedure in the future.
Kayla Farber

Kayla Farber

Kayla is the Chief Innovation Officer at Hero Culture, where the passion is to create company cultures of retention using the power of personality.
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