Briefings Magazine

Job Inflation

Wanted: A new marketing director. Benefits include full medical coverage, extended parental leave and, oh yes, the ability to work a second job full-time.

See the latest issue of Briefings at newsstands or read in our new format here.

By: Jonathan Dahl, Chief Content Officer

People working at home full-time, not in the office. A company called Zoom becoming a verb. Millions of employees quitting their jobs, without any other work lined up. Organizations finding themselves facing staff shortages, but needing to lay off thousands of workers.

Yep, these are radical times in the business world. So I suppose floating the idea that remote workers may start holding down not just one but two full-time jobs may not be that far-fetched.

According to the most recent US government stats I’ve seen, more than 420,000 workers are already doing this, up 20 percent from a year ago. Presumably, the trend now includes not just lower-pay jobs but higher-pay workers who are remote, which makes you wonder: How in the world are they managing this?  Most organizations can’t legally prevent it, but they can contractually discourage outside activities if they interfere with core duties or help competitors.

But in these strange times, the opportunity for some workers is there, with firms facing key talent shortages even in the midst of a recession. “People with the right skills are realizing they are valuable to more than one organization,” says Jean-Marc Laouchez, president of the Korn Ferry Institute. There’s also both a fairness issue (high-level executives are usually allowed to have second jobs serving on boards) and a financial one (with inflation so crazy, extra income becomes all the more critical). Go back two decades before the purpose movement, and fairness to employees was ignored. Less so today.

As you may recall, the news event that stirred all this up came a few months ago, when a tech company caught two engineers working remotely while they apparently were also holding down full-time second jobs. While not condoning the violating of company policies, labor experts, legal pros, and workers themselves were abuzz over the idea that two jobs may be better than one. Especially with people working at home. And who knows—it all may become part of a job posting someday!

For me, though, it’s a troubling idea that falls very much in line with the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, and anything else that suggests employee engagement may be slipping. Sure, some people might have the skill sets to work multiple jobs at once, but I’d like to think that organizations know how to shape roles that are—in and of themselves—compelling enough for one person, at one time. Whether or not that person works at home shouldn’t matter to corporate leaders. What should matter to them is why their workers might consider doubling up jobs. Are they not paid enough? Are they bored?

Above all else, companies need to set better career paths for workers and offer a future that aligns with their purpose and life goals. Fail to give them that, and sure—these crazy times may get even crazier.


Download PDF