Overemployment happens when professionals are looking to work for two or more jobs. This is a situation in which a person consistently works more hours than what is sustainable, and it has become an open secret in several industries, such as BPOs and Virtual Assistant jobs.
The pandemic made remote work more popular and it started to take hold when many were laid off from work. Others were forced to resign for various reasons, and they resorted to looking for a job that allowed them to work from home. Since freelancing isn’t highly lucrative unless you have several clients, these people had to take on 2-3 clients to make it a sustainable profession.
Why is Overemployment happening, and what are its consequences?
Over the past two years, people have been able to adapt to working from home or remotely without a hassle. They became more comfortable doing it because they could rest whenever they wanted and were also able to spend more time with their family. The agony of traveling and battling with traffic became a thing of the past. However, they also realized that their income is not sufficient enough to provide for their needs. Inflation worsened during the pandemic and has had a global effect. This gave people the chance to take on more jobs at the same time.
Overemployment occurs when a person works with two or more clients at the same time. More often than not, it occurs because the income from one client is insufficient to cover daily needs, necessitating the need to take on additional jobs in order to afford basic necessities. Unless the employee specifies that they are working with them alongside others, the clients are often unaware.
From the perspective of a business owner, having an overemployed team member may be detrimental to the company. A person can only so many things they could focus on, which could lead to one or both sides receiving subpar performance from the employee.
Some businesses require data security, and if a business owner employs such for their company, an employee who also has data security may seem counterintuitive. If this employee works for a direct competitor, there may be a conflict of interest. Both businesses could be put in jeopardy, resulting in an internal conflict where there was previously none.
Points to Consider about Overemployment
Most people who go overemployed are usually those whose work is based on output, rather than their overall presence and time spent logged in.
As such, if you find yourself in a situation where you have overemployed staff, consider the following:
- Are they breaching confidentiality and data security?
- Are they working for a competitor, or something closely related to the field of your business?
- Are their performance and output lowered due to them working multiple jobs?
- Are they becoming non-commital and unresponsive to new projects because of it?
These are just a few things to think about when dealing with this situation. While it may be case-by-case for most, the concept boils down to these points.
Solutions to Overemployment
Overemployment is something that is hard to avoid for business owners, primarily because it can be hard to tell most of the time.
Even though company policies and data security are at risk with overemployed team members, a business owner cannot prevent their employees from taking on other jobs, as long as they are performing well at all of them.
Here are some of the things a business owner can do to prevent issues in businesses with overemployed staff.
Spread the workload
Re-evaluate what you want as a business owner. Instead of increasing the burden on employees, lighten the stress by taking time to fix the system and processes, and elevate the business to operate at a more rewarding pace. If the process runs smoothly, then there are fewer reasons for people to perform less, overemployed or not.
A business owner must be able to give trust to their employees. Recognize each person’s strengths and weaknesses.
As a business owner, you can take on work that you enjoy and bear fruit for the company. Everything else can be divided among team members. Make a matrix to help you and your team keep track of what’s going on.
Investigate the cause
Address the reason why some people are working multiple jobs. If possible, assess pay and benefits packages to ensure that salaries are competitive in the current market. Assess the performance and impact in departments where overemployment is common.
Have a sit-down discussion with overemployed team members. They must have a reason why they are doing it, and it’s good to be open with each other at a professional level.
Evaluate and Reiterate Security Protocols
If you’re worried about data security, there are several strategies to prevent data leaks. Reiterate that, along with the consequences of breaching data security, to all employees, not just the overemployed ones, so as not to single anyone out.
Divide the system. Do not let everyone know everything that’s going on with the business. Put restrictions and boundaries in place. If everyone knows just part of what’s going on, nobody will be able to leak information in full.
Do not provide third-party access to software, company data, and client information. This way, you will be able to prevent the misuse of information among team members. It would prove useful in the long run, not just to prevent overemployed team members from leaking anything to their other clients, whether by purpose or unintentionally.
Re-engage your Team
Ironically, sometimes the cause of overemployment is that your employee feels disengaged, or feels that he’s not making the most of his abilities at his current job. They could be seeking out other job opportunities to do something else they want to explore.
Rather than let another company benefit from it, why not tap into it for your company instead? Find or create projects that you think they will thrive in, or assess to see if they could handle more responsibilities than their current ones.
Overemployment has always been around. Whether it takes the form of a side hustle or sidelines, people will not turn down added income for themselves. As a business owner, it is important to know the cause of it before taking action, in order to properly evaluate and have all the information before deciding on your future actions.