Many employees head to work each day knowing that they will undertake a series of responsibilities outside their job description. Maybe times are lenient or maybe the company simply cannot afford to hire additional staff . Regardless of the circumstances leading to employees performing duties outside the scope of their core role, should they be compensated for taking on additional work?

For those of you that are business owners you’re probably tallying the number of your employees that take on duties well outside the scope of their position description. And furthermore, are imaging what that could probably cost you should they all come to you seeking a raise. It would be a lot. And I say that because it is not uncommon to find many workers managing role conflicts within the workplace.

Now carrying out multiple roles can be gratifying. It can enhance one’s performance as they are able to develop a broader skill set and social support networks throughout the organisation. And maybe it is the employee that has sought to adopt additional roles. Often companies have internal committees, whether they are social committees or safety committees, we either need volunteers to step up or staff with the relevant knowledge and skill set to lead the charge to a better working environment. The result of role juggling can be identity enhancement, or identity conflict.

Conflicts can arise when the duties of the secondary role interfere with meeting the responsibilities of the primary role. Perhaps you have suddenly found yourself one body short in the office due to a resignation and those remaining not only need to pick up the slack for a short term, but additionally train the replacement. Most staff don’t mind taking on additional tasks if it is only for a short period of time. Yet whether a short or long term gig, if staff cannot readily adapt, or if the workload is simply too overwhelming, stress levels can rise and that needs to be addressed and managed professionally. Or you may find yourself dealing with several resignations! Yikes.

The astute employee will take their time to consider how they can manage additional responsibilities. A demonstration of initiative will prove that while they can handle some extra tasks, they will communicate to their manager that without additional training and support other tasks will not be able to be executed, or done so poorly. Turning the negative into a positive can provide an employee with the necessary skills and experience to take the next step to a more senior role. On the other hand, where tasks are beneath one’s pay grade, delegating to more junior staff and growing their skill set is evidence of one’s leadership.

Often a manager will purposefully impose additional responsibilities on an employee. For the employee who is not at all comfortable with the arrangement, reference to the employment contract may come into play. Many employment contracts have a carefully designed set of incentives that clarify the scope of the employee’s responsibilities to the company and furthermore, state their job title. So when the Assistant Accountant cannot find where in his contract it states that he must also clean the office, a manager must be prepared to be challenged by their employee. Is it fair that the Leasing Manager must forgo an hour of their working day to cover reception duties while frontline staff take a lunch break? And why is the Events Manager also overseeing the induction of new employees to the company? Manipulating the tasks and responsibilities of workers after these have been clarified during the hiring process can create internal conflict. Yet it would not be an unreasonable stretch however for the Retail Manager to undertake the training of a new retail assistant.

Unforeseen duties will always arise. And many employees will willingly be flexible with their time to support the broader team and the company’s objectives. The rigid diva’s on the other hand tend to be viewed by managers and co-workers as selfish, negative and a hindrance to achieving goals. Yet bend too far and you risk becoming everyone’s door mat. An equitable balance must be struck between management and employees. So while duties and responsibilities are often switched around within an organisation as roles and priorities shift, if you cannot frame work roles as being complimentary, staff may take offence and refuse to cooperate unless adequately compensated. As the old saying goes…The trick to juggling is determining which balls are made of rubber and which ones are made of glass.

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