“We’re having a party Saturday afternoon, want to come over?” I asked a friend.
“I can’t,” she says, “I have to work all weekend.”
The reason she can’t come is that she’s doing the job she got promoted to months ago, while still doing her previous job that the company hasn’t hired for. Both jobs are full-time.
Unfortunately, this is a common practice. I’ve not only seen this across companies and industries, but I’ve also lived this. I’m guessing you have too.
The company asks a top talent to step up and help out. Doing two jobs instead of one while sacrificing their personal life and mental health to support the company. For months, a year, or more.
Let that sink in.
An undefined amount of time, that might consume a year plus of your life.
The employee does it because she’s driven and a team player. She also might feel like she doesn’t have a choice if she wants to keep moving upward in her organization. But here’s the problem, while the employee is giving blood, sweat, and tears, the company isn’t giving anything back to her in return.
Too often companies demand loyalty and love from their employees. “We want to be the best-loved place to work with a thriving culture.” While continually failing to give the love and loyalty to their employees that they hope to receive in return.
This imbalance will rightfully cause resentment and breed a toxic culture.
While the top talent sacrifices to cover two jobs, the company is benefiting financially. Pocketing the salary of the lost employee. Money that should be going to compensate the employee for what the company is asking them to sacrifice.
But it isn’t.
Money that could be spent to support supercharging the recruiting search so the double hatting doesn’t stretch on.
But it isn’t.
To make matters worse, often the employee is covering their boss’s job. Not only are they juggling two roles, but they’re climbing up the learning curve of a new role, trying to gain credibility with a team that used to be their peers, while at the same time keeping the wheels on their old role moving.
More times than I’d like to count, I’ve seen people juggle this crushing balancing act for a year, and apply for the senior role they’ve been handling under less than ideal circumstances. Only to have the role given to an external person that’s “more qualified”.
Talk about demoralizing.
Healthy relationships have balance. Give and take. The relationship between an employer and an employee is no different. By asking an employee to do two roles you’re upsetting the balance you both agreed to. What you’re paying them no longer matches the scope of work you agreed on.
And if you’re betting on them to be competent enough to keep the wheels on the bus for a year, managing multiple roles, then you need to be willing to bet on them to manage the senior role, which is a fraction of what their workload has been.
Give and take. Loyalty begets loyalty.
Invest in your people and reward them for stepping up.
I want to be clear, this common practice doesn’t just damage the trust and relationship with the single person you’re getting double work out of. It damages trust with every single employee.
If it can happen to Sue in accounting, it can happen to me.
Actions speak volumes.
The common business practices in your company shape your culture, and this practice demonstrates that employees aren’t valued.
Next time you ask an employee to step up and do two roles, consider what you’re giving back to them. (For the record, “a chance to stretch themself and gain extra experience” is not a good response.)
And if you work in a company that has a habit of doing this, remember you have a choice. You don’t have to stay somewhere that doesn’t value their employees.
Find the company that’s thrilled to have you and treats you like they want to keep you.