How do employers deal with moonlighting?

Moonlighting at work

Diya is a graphic designer but is also a chocolatier. She works for XYZ Pvt. Ltd. Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In the evenings or weekends, she sells confectionery products. 

This is a typical example of moonlighting. 

Moonlighting means working at an extra job, especially without telling your primary employer. In simpler terms, employee moonlighting means a situation where the person works more than one job simultaneously.

Research states that 43% of Indian IT employees find moonlighting favourable.

Let’s look at the potential reasons for employee moonlighting at work –

To earn better With growing opportunities, the earning potential of the skilled workforce grows as well. The most common reason for employees seeking another job is to increase their monthly income. Moonlighting or side hustle is undertaken to monetize the skills of the employee.

Updating skills  In a world where technological innovations disrupt the market daily, upskilling and updating existing skills are a necessity. To sharpen one’s skills and update their knowledge, people seek opportunities outside the job.

Underutilized capacity At times employees may not be optimally utilized despite having the necessary skills. The term ‘sitting on the bench’ is not just a game jargon, but a reality in the corporate world. In the case of over-hiring, many employees are underutilized. Hence they feel the need to utilize their skills, due to which they seek opportunities elsewhere.

Ambition & scope – The career goals may not align with the job profile a person is currently working in, hence the employee might be dissatisfied with their job role. However, they wish to pursue their passion or fulfil their career ambitions, due to which they may look out for opportunities outside the scope of their job description.

Pursue and monetize hobbies – Many times, people have hobbies that can be converted into a side hustle and benefit from it.

Challenges of moonlighting –

Employees may feel demotivated to work hard or put in any extra effort since they can earn more money by taking up other assignments or projects. It may discourage or enrage others who do the same amount of work for the company and are not incentivized for it.

There may be a conflict of interest if the moonlighting activity is similar to or the same as the employee’s job profile or if the opportunity is to work for any rival company. This creates a breach of trust and a risk to confidential information. 

The employees may struggle to create a sense of ownership, loyalty and commitment towards their employers or jobs. This may lead to reduced productivity, accountability, and focus on the work.

Quick burnout is a potential risk when employees work on multiple jobs simultaneously. 

Quiet quitting is currently a rising trend in many organizations. This is due to a lack of motivation and opportunities provided by the employer, which provokes the employees to seek jobs elsewhere. 

How can companies overcome these challenges?

Many times companies have an ‘Exclusivity Clause’ in their employment contract. This clause forbids employees from taking any other job outside company’s purview. 

If the side hustle is outside the job description or the company scope, then the employers should not take any action since it does not hamper the company.

The employer should encourage employees’ hobbies and should permit them to monetize them.

In case the employee is found to be moonlighting, the employers should reason with the person before taking any decision to fire the employee.

Being empathetic, and understanding the needs of employees will help the companies to motivate them. 

Encouraging and sponsoring employee upskilling programs will help them satisfy their learning & development needs.

A company benefits greatly if its employees are satisfied, productive, and feel included, and heard. 

Understanding these principles of people management is crucial for any HR manager. Hence people management skills are of prime importance in any company.

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