Moonlighting: What Is The Best Way For Organisations To Handle This Phenomenon?

"Moonlighting" means having a second job in addition to the primary job


In the rapidly evolving corporate world, Moonlighting is a new term. "Moonlighting" means having a second job in addition to the primary job. Moonlighting has been happening in different sectors for many years. Some people juggle between two professions. They might start a part-time job along with a full-time job. They might be a corporate executive during the day and a tutor in the evening or night. 

The flexible schedules of different jobs help people moonlight for extra money. Sometimes, people with multiple skills moonlight to increase their skill levels in different areas. There are many reasons why people might take up moonlighting.

Reasons for Moonlighting from employees
By understanding the reasons for employees moonlighting, employers can address these issues and resolve moonlighting from its roots.  

Extra income
The most common reason employees take up moonlighting is for extra income for their lifestyle and other needs. This might happen because their full-time job needs to pay them more. If the employee is financially ambitious, he might moonlight for extra income.

Proving their skills
Job satisfaction and self-fulfillment are also major aspects of employment for people. People who wish to exercise some freedom and do not want to keep themselves restricted to a single field take up different offers to test their skill level and act on an opportunity. People who are highly skilled and have interests in multiple areas might take up moonlighting to prove their capabilities in different areas.  

Utilizing their spare time
If the employees think their skills could be utilized more and have more free time, they will want to utilize them in different areas. The spare time that people get can create space for moonlighting. In such cases, employers must listen to the employees, give them more responsibility, and increase their salaries. Possibly, employees are looking for new opportunities and exciting projects. Moonlighting might stop if you provide them with these opportunities in their current roles.

What are the issues that employers face due to Moonlighting?
Moonlighting can be very negative for a company and its culture. The work productivity of an employee gets affected in the long run due to fatigue. This brings down the productivity of the company and ruins its culture. Moonlighting poses particular challenges for human resources because it underperforms the company's human resources. Human resource management is an essential aspect of a company's work. In addition to employee engagement, moonlighting culture affects productivity. If moonlighting employees disengage, non-moonlighting employees might not be motivated. Disengagement of moonlighting employees may lead to underperformance.

Recently, Wipro fired 300 employees from its staff for moonlighting after work hours. Conflict between rival companies often stops employees from sharing their skills. It is unethical to be on the payroll of two companies because employees are only partially invested in their work for either of the companies. Moonlighting has been focused on lately because the hybrid work model and the work-from-anywhere model allow employees to take on multiple projects simultaneously. There needs more monitoring of such employees.

If moonlighting improves people's financial and living conditions without affecting companies, it can be supported. Since such a large portion of the workforce is already doing moonlighting, some firms have softened their stance on the issue. For example, Tech Mahindra's CEO is all for multiple income sources for its employees. Tech Mahindra will allow workers to take up side jobs while maintaining their productivity and not violating company ethics. While legacy companies are against moonlighting, startups and new-age companies like Swiggy, Zomato, and Flipkart are in support of their workers juggling multiple careers. The support stems from the belief that professionals have much time to pursue their passions in their free time. In contrast, companies are worried that employees might breach company data regulations.

Underperformance and negligence of job responsibilities are also major concerns. The following sections discuss ways in which the HR department can handle moonlighting concerns.

How to tackle the challenge of Moonlighting?
In recent studies on Moonlighting, it has been found that Moonlighting is very common, and nearly 50 percent of the workforce have done it at one point in time. Moreover, this percentage is growing as we approach flexible work environments and terms. Now that the causes, effects, and trends of moonlighting are clear, let us explore how moonlighting can be dealt with.

Ask an open-ended question
When interrogating an employee about the possible cause and instance of moonlighting, keep the questions open-ended and casual. If HR creates a high-pressure environment, it can lead to a negative impact on the workforce. Try to know why the employee is moonlighting. Let them talk about their reasons freely. HR can address the root causes and resolve the issue amicably when the reasons are clear.  

Share the consequences
After moonlighting becomes apparent, you should also share the consequences of the practice with employees. If the employees do not change their work methods, there is the possibility that they will experience fatigue. Juggling between two jobs under all conditions is challenging but possible. HR has to make them feel valued so the employees can devote their efforts to the company. HR has to share the company's concerns and reasons with them. Employees need to be gently informed of the consequences.

Use non-compete agreements
Precautions can be taken against moonlighting. You can create non-compete agreements which are put in place to stop the employee from moonlighting. Non-compete agreements protect intellectual property, trade secrets, and human resources. In the agreement, it should be clearly stated that the employee is not allowed to work elsewhere while he/she is working with the firm. Moreover, sharing confidential information related to the company should also be prohibited.

With proper precautions and strategies, companies and HR professionals can minimize moonlighting. When employees' needs and wants are fulfilled in one organization, they are more likely to remain committed to the employer organization and not take up moonlighting. The company has to make employees feel valued and well compensated, so they do not seek employment and validation elsewhere. 



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