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Two or Three Jobs is the New Norm Inside the Corporate World

We’ve all heard about employees having a second job outside of their day job. For many, the extra work is an hourly position working evenings or weekends. Then there are the employees who choose to freelance after hours. The freelance topic for these individuals is often related to the area of expertise that employs them during the day. The end goal for these employees is to generate supplemental income. 

But did you know that the new norm INSIDE corporations is to assign a sub-set of employees to two or three full-time job roles?

The goal in this case is not the generation of supplemental income for the employee, but rather to leverage certain high-level expertise that can add value to a company in multiple places. In witnessing this trend over the past few years, it is often the leadership, project management and strategic skills that the organization is looking to “spread around” because they are in short supply. For these skill sets, the trend of working multiple jobs lands on the desks on your highly experienced professionals that have mastered the ability to apply their skills to entirely new and seemingly unrelated topics.

You may wonder how these employees are selected for their additional duties. Here’s the insider’s view of how it happens. The employee isn’t selected because their manager thinks they have free time to fill. Quite the contrary. These employees are already working more than 40 hours per week in the cases I’ve witnessed. The selection process goes like something this:

  1. Upper management discusses a new program in need of a leader who “knows how to get things done around here… and quickly.” Alternatively, upper management is concerned about the direction of a current program and needs a leader who can focus the program and move it forward.
  2. They review who they know that can “get the job done.”
  3. They notify the employee that he / she is now part of the new program.

Unfortunately, in these cases, the employee is rarely provided with any relief from his / her original workload and they find themselves working double-duty. I’ve used a case of leadership skills for this article, but the same situation occurs if you are an employee with a rare technical skill set.

Working multiple jobs inside a corporation can put an employee in a situation where they feel like they can’t succeed. However, what I’ve witnessed is that many of these employees thrive under these conditions. They love the challenge, they have excellent time management skills and they get very creative about getting the work done for their regular job in addition to their new assignment. 

In the example provided above, the selection of the individual for the new project was made from a pool of employees only known to the managers who were present during the original discussion. What if we had a way to access a wider database of employees, to see their leadership strengths and evaluate the ability of the employee to flex their skill sets over multiple job categories? 

Some HR systems store information on competencies and skill sets, but I’ve never seen a company actively leverage this data. In addition, since the opportunities I’m discussing in this article exist primarily at the higher or more strategic levels, it is not practical to think that a company’s leadership is going to execute a search inside your HR system. So, what am I suggesting in order to make these special people more visible?

First, let me clarify that this is not an exercise in succession planning. The pool of people we’re discussing here are not necessarily slated for upward movement nor do they always desire it. We are trying to identify a sub-set of employees with very special skills that you can count on for urgent leadership needs.

In smaller companies, identifying this pool of people is much easier. The smaller you are, the more likely you are to know each employee and their leadership capabilities. It is when your company gets larger that a special effort is needed. Hold conversations within each business area to speak with leaders about the people in their organization. These leaders know which of their people actively displays leadership skills and influencing people.

Gather information from all business areas and then consolidate it into one data set. Whether you create a searchable database, an Excel sheet with filters or a custom online dashboard with Tableau, it doesn’t matter. You just need to create something that you can search and share. 

Communicate to managers that this list exists. In most companies, a data set like this would be stored in HR but managers and leaders need to know how it can be used even if it’s HR that conducts the search for them.

Next, hold discussions to determine how employees will be rewarded for performing multiple jobs for you because these employees are your self-driven high-performers. Higher performers don’t mind double-duty if you recognize their efforts along the way. Otherwise, they will become disheartened.

Executing two or three jobs in the corporate world is not unusual for experienced professionals. Standard practice has become to identify individuals with rare leadership or technical skill sets and to appoint them to additional projects or job roles. Let’s work on identifying the rest of this special talent pool to maximize the contribution of their rare skills to the corporate world.


Tracey Smith is an internationally recognized business author, speaker and consultant. She is the author of multiple books and hundreds of articles. Tracey has worked with and advised organizations, both well-known and little-known, on how to use data analytics to impact the bottom line. If you would like to learn more, please visit www.numericalinsights.com  or contact Tracey Smith through LinkedIn. You can check out her books on her Amazon Author Page.