How To Work For Multiple Employers And Deliver Value
Written by Seun Oyediran
Are you doing more than one job? Or, are you considering accepting a second job? If yes, you aren’t the only one. A recent often-repeated talking point is that many people hold two or three jobs to make ends meet. Extra income, added security, and new learning opportunities – there are many reasons people work for multiple employers.
Take Abeyo Ajayi, who worked at the middle management level in a private business organization. In times of the recent economic crisis, the employer reduced work hours and slashed his salary by 40%. To meet his financial commitments, he starting working as a part-time accountant for two days in a week with another employer. Abeyo isn’t the only one. Many people are doing multiple jobs. Maybe they want to start a new business or pay for their higher studies. Or, some are just forced to take up additional jobs as companies strive to cut costs.
Whatever are your reasons, balancing multiple jobs can be challenging. In this article, we will explore the legal ramifications of working for more than one employer, its benefits and challenges, and how to avoid burnout without compromising your performance.
Importance of considering multiple employment in a post-covid era
The economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic is harsh on the young population and micro and small businesses in Nigeria. According to ILO Monitor, Nigeria registered a total working hour loss of 8.9 percent during 2020.
Don’t blame your employer for this!
The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) responsible for most of the country’s employment are the hardest hit. Some businesses cannot order goods because of movement restrictions and have no inventory left to sell. Moreover, there is significantly reduced demand for their goods from customers who have either lost their jobs or are themselves badly hit by the calamity relating to covid.
So, what happens when the business isn’t doing well? The employer is forced to lay off employees or exercise pay cuts. Some companies are initiating reduced work hours because there is less work.
All this leads to heightened concerns of job and financial insecurity.
Ene Adejo, works as a teacher in a primary school. Recently, her school has announced shorter working hours and reduced salaries. As the cost of living has risen steadily, Adejo is looking for second employment to supplement her family income. Mary Uzoma had never been unemployed until March, when she was among those laid off by the transport company she worked for in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos. She is finding it hard to get any job as most organizations have gone into virtual work. Nella, 34, a single mother, was an air hostess in Nigeria’s private jet industry. When the Covid-19 hit, she had to agree to a 3-month reduced salary, but by the end of June-2020, she was handed a lay-off letter. Stephanie, who worked at a company in Lagos, is struggling to meet both ends meet. As the employer forced a pay cut, her income reduced from 311,000 ($802) naira to 60,000 ($154) naira in a month.
If you reflect carefully, Covid-19 has revolutionized the nature of work – remote working, virtual meetings, increased use of technology, automation, and artificial intelligence-supported work processes. These new work behaviors and shifting expectations will continue even after the pandemic recedes.
In short, the future of work may change forever.
While the employers want to optimize the workforce, the employees must seek opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to stay relevant.
Nigeria has faced multiple recessions in the last several years, triggered by a coronavirus-induced crash in oil prices that has hammered state revenue, creating large financing needs and weakening the naira. Food prices are increasing.
What can you do to tackle this situation?
Either keep complaining or get up and do something to change your situation. When you complain, you make yourself a victim.
Remember, opportunities lie amidst the chaos, and now is the time to prepare for the new world.
The solution lies in working for multiple employers. There was a time when multiple employment was for underemployed workers and the severely cash-strapped. But in the post covid era, people in all fields and income groups supplement their primary income with additional jobs. Money is one reason, and the second reason is the access to opportunities to upskill for the future work landscape. You can consider additional employment as a stepping stone to a different career, which will enable you to test your aptitude in another occupation and then take the plunge.
Can you legally work for two or more companies at the same time?
Employees are typically not allowed to hold multiple employment. Still, given the economic fallout caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, some employers are sensitive to their employees’ situation knowing, especially those that have made cuts to salaries. Whilst they may not offically permit their staff to hold multiple jobs, they understand if employees seek out additional part-time work to supplement their income.
While you can work for two or more companies at the same time, remember it is not your legally protected right. Let me explain a bit more. Your employer expects you to be “present, prepared, and prompt” at work. However, when you are juggling more than one job, it is a bit natural to be exhausted and distracted. This may negatively impact your work performance. If it happens once in a while, the employer may ignore it. But, if your performance or engagement at work becomes a constant issue, the employer is within their legal rights to terminate your employment based on negligence or poor performance.
You should consider the following factors when having multiple jobs, so it does NOT become a legal issue:
If your ability to do your job is compromised. For example, you arrive late or tired, and possibly more at risk of having an accident, leave early, aren’t working productively, or have more sickness absence, the employer may tag it as performance issues
Doing anything that causes a potential conflict of interest for your employer. For example, you shouldn’t work for a competitor or rival company or work for a company that is a client or supplier of your employer
Doing anything that could bring your employer into disrepute.
If possible, obtain written permission in the form of an email or letter from your employer before engaging in any other type of paid/unpaid work outside of your regular working hours.
How to approach informing your employer about your second job (before accepting the offer)
Well, telling your employer about your second job causes anxiety, but it is something that is crucial and cannot be overlooked especially if the second job requires a huge time commitment.
What happens if you take a second job without disclosing it to your employer? Your current employer could fire you or start becoming more criticising of your work. This could also happen if you tell them about your new job? Yes, it could, however, addressing the concerns earlier than later would enable you have a better outcome. Being upfront about your multiple employment is the right way in almost all cases. If you are a value add to the organisations success, it’s quite rare that the employer would let you go.
Here are some tips to approach your employer about your second job:
Inform before accepting the offer
You must inform the employer before accepting the offer of a second job. Set up a meeting with your manager to let him know you’re considering taking on a second part-time job. Let him know you respect the current company’s policies and mindful of your current job commitment.
Be respectful of their concerns
Before meeting your employer, try to think about their objections you having a second job. Some of the most common concerns of employers are:
Working for a competitor
Revealing company’s internal information
Negative impact on the inability to fulfill job responsibilities
A threat to loyalty and commitment
The second job might be inconsistent with their image or values
Address your employer’s concerns
Make sure you put these fears to rest. Tell your employer about your ability to manage both roles. Describe in detail how you plan to stay productive and effective at your multiple jobs. Reinforce their confidence that you realize your commitment to them and be available to shoulder any additional responsibilities.
Explain your situation
Don’t hesitate to let your employer know your real reasons for taking multiple jobs. Whether it is a to fund something important (e.g., down payment on a new house), fear of job loss, or increase saving for future uncertainties. Your employer is a human too. He may view your working multiple jobs with empathy when they know your reasons. This only portrays your ability to take responsibility for your own life.
Avoiding conflicts and burnout
To remain afloat, many Nigerian employees engage in multiple employment. A research study Moonlighting Activities and Lecturers’ Wellbeing in Nigerian Universities, found that Nigerian lecturers take second jobs like part-time/adjunct appointments, ownership of secondary, primary, and nursery schools, supermarket, etc., to earn more income and remain solvent. Nigerian lecturers are afflicted with many illnesses due to burnout emanating from excess workload brought about by the extra job activities.
A healthy work-life balance is harder to maintain when holding multiple jobs. If you manage multiple jobs, you are working almost 12 or more hours a day and are also more likely to work on the weekends. These hours are taken away from your time to rest and spend with family. This may result in stress, burnout, and health issues.
Below are some tips to avoid burnout and maintain a work-life balance when working for different employers:
The best way to avoid the risks of burnout and conflicts is to pick an unrelated field. A lecturer who writes product descriptions for e-commerce marketing, a business professional who teaches music, a real estate agent who teaches in a primary school, or a sales guy who develops websites, on the side, are safe bets.
Get exercise whenever possible. If you can’t fit in a regular workout routine, find ways to get some exercise each day. It could be just walking to lunch or taking the stairs. Do you know a 15-minute jog or online workout can do wonders for your body?
Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep each. Instead of watching TV or chatting on a mobile phone, go to bed early.
Eat healthy foods – When working long hours, we tend to snack on unhealthy foods like chips, biscuits, and cola. Pre-plan your meals and go for healthy snacks like yogurt, milk, nuts, fruits, and seeds.
Beat the stress with stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga, and listening to music.
Make time for yourself – All work and no play is a serious recipe for burnout. Every now and then, set aside some time for yourself. See a movie, hang out with friends, have a family dinner, take a hike, ride a bike, soak in the tub, or take up a fun hobby.
Stay organized – Keep a planner or calendar in which you can write down your personal tasks, appointments, and errands. Look at your to-do list at the beginning of each week, and prioritize what needs to be done when.
Seek help – Ask a family member, neighbor or friend to help you out with some tasks or whenever you are stuck.
Cut commute time – The best way to do multiple jobs is to spend less time traveling between the offices and spend more time working on the job tasks. Travel adds to the stress. If possible, try to keep the jobs close enough to each other and the home that you aren’t losing even more personal time.
Be transparent and set boundaries – To manage expectations, you must let each employer know about your other job(s) and your respective schedules. Be upfront about your availability. Keep at least one hour break between jobs.
Don’t overwork yourself – If you want to manage multiple jobs for a long time, stop killing yourself each day.
Don’t overcommit – It’s easy to feel compelled to take on as much as you can while it’s available. But over-committing yourself can lead to burnout, missed deadlines, or subpar work quality. Know how much you can reasonably handle at one time, and if you have to say ‘no,’ say ‘no.’
Stay focused and avoid distractions. It could be tea/coffee breaks, gossiping with peers, or checking phones. All the short periods you spend on these activities add up to few hours. You could very well use the time to complete your work tasks.
Organize your schedule – You don’t have to keep tasks in your brain. Always make a list of tasks that are assigned to you. Review your to-do list at the start of the day and prioritize tasks. Stick to the order you’ve decided unless your employer asks you something urgently.
Take short breaks – Whether to eat lunch or grab a coffee, take short breaks to unwind and refresh.
Benefits of working for multiple employers
So, what are the benefits of working for multiple employers?
The first and the foremost is obviously the opportunity to increase your income
If the second job is something that interests you deeply, it can be fulfilling on a personal level and make you feel more satisfied with life.
It can be refreshing, as you get to see new people and meet new challenges. This means you’ll be less likely to get bored and annoyed with routine work issues.
You also get an opportunity to expand your network of colleagues and seniors.
You might get to learn an entirely new set of skills, which can further your career at some point.
Done the right way, working for multiple employers can be quite rewarding. It supplements your income and brings new opportunities that you would have never considered before. Working multiple jobs is a great way to catapult yourself ahead. What do you have to give up? Maybe a few hours of TV watching, lazing around, or hanging out with friends.
Of course, the idea is not to give up on your health and social life. But….a few extra hours of effort can secure your future – may be saving for setting up your own business, or becoming debt-free faster.
Have you worked for multiple employers? We would love to hear your story. Share your story of working for multiple employers in the comments section below.