How to respond to the fact that you are not the only one (employer)? / Hebrew
When the world was suddenly forced to work from home at the start of the pandemic, it hit many leaders hard.
I am a constant learner of leadership and have been a leader for over forty years, including serving as Vice President of HR at Microsoft. Having to work from home was an amazing time because it gave me the opportunity to see the fear on the faces of managers, suddenly losing the control they had been living with.
Managers out of control
Employees who work from home have been spared the commute to work, the distractions of the office, and the scrutiny of their managers. Most have made the transition effectively, and many have even thrived. But some took advantage of their newfound freedom.
The lack of control shocked the managers. They told true stories of how their subordinates spent their time playing video games, working at the beach, and, worst of all, working two full-time jobs.
In the fall of 2022, many media outlets wrote sensational stories about Silicon Valley programmers making more than half a million dollars at multiple full-time jobs—juggling Zoom calls and multiple deadlines in their main office to “cheat” the system.
Apparently, the managers were disturbed by the fact that these employees remained unpunished.
Multiple jobs are normal
Do you know who else works two jobs? The bottom third of the US labor market.
For example, a cashier at Target who works for Uber in the evenings, a school teacher who cleans on weekends, a cook at McDonald’s who works as a bartender at night.
Working in multiple locations is a part of reality that is so common that it has been the beginning of many successful people’s stories. “My mom worked two jobs so we could go to college.”
The freedom of choice of location provided by working from home has made this option available to an even wider range of workers. She even spawned an online community at Overemployed.com that posts articles and advice from people working remotely at multiple companies.
Given the availability of 168 hours in a week, a dedicated or financially insecure employee considers one forty-hour job a suboptimal use of time. It is unreasonable to expect him to use only 25% of his week to make ends meet or grow financially.
Employers, it’s very simple: you don’t own the lives of your employees. What they do when they’re not working for you is just none of your business.
How managers should treat multi-location workers
If you are a manager and find out that your employee works somewhere else, your reaction is very important. This issue can be solved in different ways, and the reactions of managers also vary greatly.
Of course, there is the issue of competition. If an employee works for a competitor or, worse, uses confidential information, that’s a problem. As an employer, you can take advantage of antitrust and privacy laws (although these are country-specific and difficult to apply when working remotely).
But otherwise, the problem of an employee using their free time or skills to generate additional income boils down to one simple question.
Does he cope with his duties?
The main management problem remains the same: how well is the employee doing? Does it do the job (your job) properly?
If the employee does not deliver, you need to solve the problem of this deficiency. Let him report on his results. Make it so that he provides the return that you pay him. Treat the problem as you would any low performance problem.
What he does outside of work and what might be causing the performance problem is none of your business either. You should react like this: I’m waiting for the result and I’m paying for it, and you’re not coping, let’s solve the problem.
However, if the employee is coping and even thriving, your reaction may be different.
1) Throw a tantrum
Many managers immediately react too violently. They insist that the employee stop working on all other jobs. They are annoyed by the violation of loyalty, they are impressed by the increased self-esteem and even feel that they have been personally insulted.
All this will end badly. If an employee does a good job and does not work for a competitor, he has every right to do so. An excessively violent reaction destroys any possibility of understanding between you and completely demotivates him.
Your reaction has turned a high-performing employee into an enemy who absolutely wants to quit.
2) Increase the load
The reaction of other managers is to increase the workload. “If you have time to work for someone else, then you can do more for me.”
After all, their work is quite satisfactory, or at least it was satisfactory until you found out about another place of work.
Increasing the load will most likely reduce their performance. It will definitely destroy their attitude to work, especially if no additional payment is provided.
And your reaction has once again turned an effective employee into an enemy. You made a good situation worse.
You also motivated him to look for something new. He found a second job, and therefore, most likely, there will be no problems finding a replacement for your job.
3) Be happy for his success
The most mature reaction is to rejoice in his success. You should reward him for his performance and recognize his success, especially if he is a very high-quality employee.
And agree with the possibility of his second job.
Rewarding him for success and even increasing his pay will ensure loyalty. The employee will feel recognized and supported. You will appear to be a leader free from superstitions who is aware of and accepts quality work.
This approach will increase the employee’s appreciation for the work and your leadership. Its performance may even increase. Maybe it will even convince him to leave his second job, because now it is not needed.
4) Borrow experience
Also, we can learn from these hard working people. If their numbers are very high, find out how they do it.
Many of these multi-job workers are case studies. They manage to find ways to do a week’s worth of work in three days. They are not bothered by complex priorities that compete with each other. They multitask as needed and have become specialists in efficient work performance.
You don’t have to say, “Okay, then I’ll give you five days’ worth of work,” as was said in the second point.
Instead, the question should be, “Can you teach everyone how you do it?”
Imagine having an entire team of people able to work at that level, be more efficient and able to juggle priorities without being distracted by distractions. You will be able to increase results individually and significantly increase the productivity of the entire team.
Instead of punishing those who fake elsewhere, praise them for being innovative. Recognize resourcefulness and ask for help in improving the team as a whole.
The most important thing is your reaction
You, your team, and the employee will only benefit from taking the second job in stride.
Remember that you are participating in an honest exchange: employees give you their time, you get their results. The rest does not concern you. A smart leader will understand the situation and try to make it so that everyone benefits from it.