Having trouble hiring employees? Try cross-training existing employees

Like most businesses, our company, MDX Labs, has learned so much over these last two years about adapting to change and finding new ways to meet sudden business challenges. It was the COVID-19 virus that forced many of these changes, but the lessons we’ve learned will serve us well in any future circumstance.

Quite honestly, great employees allowed our company — and no doubt many others in Southern Nevada — to make those near-immediate adaptations when we needed to. But with new business plans in place and an expansion in the works, we have some specific staffing requirements, which have been challenging for us to fill. I’ve spoken with other business leaders, and they struggle at times to find the right combination of technical and soft skills required in new applicants.

Until we can hire all the employees we need, our company chose to make a significant effort to expand the skill base of our existing employees. I’ve been somewhat surprised by our success and wanted to encourage other employers to try this if it might work for their industry.

For example, we’ll need phlebotomists as we expand our testing services. When we found it challenging to attract qualified applicants, I turned to our current employees and offered them the chance to be cross-trained and be certified — at company expense. We view this as a win-win. We achieve company goals to gain the skilled employees we need to support our services while our employees earn a marketable skill they can add to their resume — at no cost.

Nevada is just one of four states that require phlebotomist certification. We have three existing employees who jumped at the chance to gain this skill and are currently pursuing certification. The employees are on their way to completing 80 hours of online coursework, 40 hours of hands-on lab training and 200 successful blood draws. The final step is to pass the required exam. The certification process has also allowed us to keep our employees productive during the usual ebb and flow of business demand.

By communicating with our employees about our changing business needs, we also learned that two other existing employees already had phlebotomy certification. That gives us a total of five individuals who will be able to serve the company differently.

Because of our successful experience, we plan to extend this opportunity to additional existing employees as our need for phlebotomists increases. For us, cross-training employees to help bridge a shortage makes good business sense, gives extra value to employees and helps us address the growing needs of our community.

Dan Briggs is president and CEO of MDX Labs. Located in Henderson, MDX Labs is the only privately owned, high-complexity laboratory in Nevada that is CLIA and COLA certified and a member of the National Independent Laboratory Association. MDX Labs operates three community health centers open to the general public and provides testing services through organizations assisting underserved populations,

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