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Job Stacking: Then and Now

Several years ago, a trend known as "job stacking" gained prominence in the U.S. labor market. Today. the term has been revived and revised .

"Job stacking" as we knew it referred to employees taking on multiple jobs or responsibilities within the same organization, often beyond their designated role. The prevalence of job stacking has both positive and negative implications for the workforce, affecting employees, employers, and the broader economy.

Job stacking is due to factors such as resource constraints, organizational restructuring, or evolving job requirements. In some cases, job stacking can result from employees seeking career advancement, skill diversification, or personal development opportunities within their existing roles.

Job stacking can offer employees the chance to broaden their skill set and gain diverse experience, which can be advantageous for personal and professional growth. Employees who engage in job stacking may be more adaptable and flexible in the face of changing work demands, making them valuable assets to their organizations. It can also provide employees with exposure to different functions and positions, potentially leading to internal promotion or advancement in their respective fields.

Just recently, I learned the new description of job stacking. Today, it refers to a worker taking on multiple jobs, for different companies. The jobs might be similar in nature, like making deliveries or serving as a customer service representative.

Workers gain the flexibility and freedom of working remote in many cases. For example, a worker might take or make customer service calls from their home for three or four companies. They will typically have multiple laptops, tablets and mobile phones that they label for each employer and they work them all at the same time or with slightly staggered hours.

This benefits the multi-tasker because they can rack up paychecks for the same 40 hour work week, but just like the "job staclying" of yesterday, there are negatives.

The leading negative factors are burnout and stress. Juggling multiple roles or responsibilities can lead to increased stress and burnout, whether the worker is an in-office employee or a remote independent worker.

Job stacking may result in role ambiguity and reduced job clarity, potentially leading to misalignment of expectations and responsibilities whether it's for the same company or multiple companies. It can also cause confusion when juggling jobs, particularly for the person working for different employers simultaneously.

Individuals engaging in job stacking may experience inequitable workloads, the inability to be productive with all of their roles and depending on the responsibilities, may make it difficult to have work-life balance.

Just as there are implications for workers, there are implications for employers.

Job stacking can sometimes hinder the development of specialized expertise, potentially leading to a mismatch between job requirements and employee skills. Employers find themselves looking for a match that no longer exist. This leads to rewriting the job description in quick succession just to keep up with the availability of talent.

This mode of working also has an influence on employment patterns, with employees taking on non-traditional, hybrid roles to meet changing business needs. Job seekers commonly ask for and seek remote working conditions.

In short, the rise of job stacking no matter which form it takes, presents both opportunities and challenges for the workforce. While it offers the potential for skill diversification and career progression, it also requires careful consideration of its impact on employee well-being, organizational dynamics, productivity and workforce development.

As it becomes increasingly prevalent, it is essential for organizations to address its implications and support employees in effectively managing evolving roles and responsibilities to ensure a healthy and resilient workforce. If the employer is suited for off-site remote or contract workers, realize that they may have multiple jobs or clientele. If you want your job to be a primary role for them, then the pay, hours and perks must be competitive.

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