It happens in lot of organization. Its a management habit in some organization who think of cutting corners , that they are saving money.

These management people tend to overlap responsibilities. What I mean is if a person is recruited to be an administrative assistant for the entire department of say 20 people, with years he become manager's and Team leader's personal assistant, some time top people's driver, etc. This is one example. Other example in short would be Sales staff taking up finance tasks or Production's responsibilities, and so on.

This is not exactly "spreading too thin" while sure that is the side effect. But the main effect is the same person is absent for his original responsibilities and the the culture and the atmosphere is in chaos and wrong message is being sent.

The reason why i am asking this phrase is because it is probably already available on wikipedia or such sites which articulates its pros and cons which i have to present to a external agency which is recruited by our company to revamp the organization. I have tries on wikipedia but has not results.I am not sure it might be a single word

  • Your "staffs are told" bit is ungrammatical in English. – tchrist Apr 11 '19 at 22:31

Multitasking refers to someone performing different actions at the same time. For example, if someone is talking to a client on the phone while performing data entry, they are multitasking. (From personal experience, people are more mistake prone while multitasking)

Dual-hatting refers to an employee who performs different roles. For example, you could say a salesperson is dual-hatted if they also perform accounting tasks.


One term for this is flexible job duties, which shoud not be confused with flexible working.

The definitions given by the websites I have linked to are quite complex but can be summarised as follows.

Flexible Job Duties:- If there is a Flexible Job Duties clause in someone's contract they can be expected to carry out any task for which they have the skills and the physical capability, but the employer cannot ask an employee to carry out tasks which are demeaning.

This is different from

Flexible Working:- If an employer allows or encourages Flexible Working this means that, rather than strict office hours (say the classic 9:00am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday) the employee can work either different hours adding up to the same number of hours over a period like a month, or in some cases, a year. There may even be a provision for remote working (particularly from home) or for working shorter hours with a commensurate reduction in pay

If applied in a reasonable way a Flexible Duties clause will improve the efficiency for the organisation as tasks which are outside everyone's normal duties but the need for which occurs infrequently can be performed by anyone who is capable and tasks which have peaks and troughs of demand can be covered without needing temporary staff. Problems can arise, however, if the terms of the clause are abused by management.

This is particularly the case if the management's definition of a demeaning task is widely different from that of the employee who is being asked to carry it out. Excessive use of a flexible work duties clause can also mean that an employee can be eased out or passed over for promotion because they are continually being given tasks which prevented the practice and development of their core skills. Flexible duties clauses need to be used carefully and with respect for the employees.


Fluid grading. Meaning that staff above or below a grade can perform duties outside of their own grade, blurring demarcation lines.


When the worker complains about this practice, s/he is apt to say "I'm doing three people's jobs -- for one salary."


Cross-training is when each person is trained to do other people's jobs, not just their own. When done even half-way competently, cross-training has several advantages:

  • Each person knows that someone else can check their work.
  • Work does not stop just because one person is out of the office or on vacation.
  • Employees can relax when they go on vacation, because problems will be taken care of by the person who backs them up.
  • Management can get better estimates for how long it will take to perform particular tasks.
  • If employees enjoy showing other people how to do things, morale improves.
  • If employees want to learn new things, morale improves.
  • Suggestions are made for improving processes.
  • Management has the option to assign employees to work in new (possibly experimental) business areas. This can help the company grow.
  • If demand for the department's services declines to where the company cannot afford to replace people who quit, retire, or are laid off, the company is not forced to lay off the entire department.

Cross-training is expensive. It requires management commitment to freeing up time for both the employee doing the training, and the employee being trained. It also requires that the job duties of both employees be adjusted, so that the employee being trained occasionally spends time doing the trainer's job. This prevents the back-up employee from forgetting the job. Jobs also change over time; occasionally doing the job lets the back-up employee learn about these changes.

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