Moonlighting is bad!

, December 1, 2022 617 Views

What is moonlighting?

Moonlighting means having a job that is separate from and in addition to the regular job that a person holds. This does not include a passive income job. This kind of job is one that does not involve the person actually putting any time or effort into it. Passive income jobs include mutual funds investment, income through rent, investments in other areas, playing the stock market, etc.

A second job, a side hustle or a side job will require the person to put in significant effort to meet the requirements of the job. The effort could be physical, mental, or both and while giving an additional income has a significant impact on the person’s productivity on the primary job.

Sometimes a second job would be necessary to make the ends meet for someone whose primary job does not pay enough.

In IT industry, this is slightly different. Most IT jobs are well paying so the employees would not need a side hustle. Importantly IT jobs require a high amount of productivity and energy.

Covid 19 has forced organizations to drastically change their working style. In countries like India which has one of the strictest lock-downs organizations adapted to a work from home approach allowing employees to perform their duties from the comfort of their homes.

This was a major change for both employees and employers. The in-person, informal meetings turned into online, formal meetings. Work from home approached give the employees a lot of freedom on how they worked. This also reduced the employer’s oversight into what employees were doing, meaning the employer does not always know what the employee is doing when he thinks he is working for him.

Employee viewpoint

Most employees believe having a side job is their right. They justify it by saying that it allows them to earn extra money which they say they need thanks to the rising cost of living. Some even argue that the salaries don’t match inflation and each year their salary falls shorter as the inflation rises.

One of the strongest motivations for a side job is dissatisfaction with the primary job. There could be any reason for this. The employees may feel their salary is not enough. They may feel they are not getting their worth, they may feel they are not getting enough compared to what they put in or they may feel emotionally unfulfilled. Perhaps some may feel they are not able to flex their creative muscle or that they realize that the job is not for them, but they must keep it for some level of economic stability. Some may want to turn their hobbies into side jobs. Perhaps the biggest motivation is the complete lack of clarity when it comes to overtime. People in IT industries would sometimes work for 14 hours a day just to meet a deadline which they did not set or which has indication of being missed for no fault of their own or even their bosses for that matter.

Either way, most of the time, employees tend to look from a relatively narrow perspective, meaning they see everything from their own viewpoint which would be justified because they may not have the required experience, stake or they simply not be able to see the bigger picture given their position.

Employer viewpoint

The employer sees this differently. An employee is their investment and for the first few years of their employment, also a risk or a liability. Employers spend significant time, money and resources getting the employee ready. This training does not just prepare the employee for the job but also often gives them some important life skills. This means the employer has too much to lose in case the employee goes rogue. IT industry relies on employee productivity a lot more than most Industries. That means if an employee has a side job that takes a decent amount of time, he or she is going to be that much overworked. That translates to reduced productivity in their primary job which in turn translates to loss to the company. A tired and unenthusiastic employee also impacts the work environment negatively. It affects others both directly and indirectly and it will not matter if others agree or disagree, the impact is visible to all. It’s like the example of the single bad apple spoiling the other healthy apples.

During lock-down, as people were working from home, a lot of them were not able to put a hard stop on their tasks. This meant that they ended up putting 12-14 hours in their job. It is not hard to imagine what would happen if they had a side job also. And perhaps the worst thing would be a complete, unhealthy and therefore disastrous disruption of their personal-professional life balance.

The way forward

There are multiple ways to avoid this. The employees can read the fine print before they sign and try to look through the eyes of the employers. If there is any conflict of interest, they can talk to the higher ups. It is also important that they understand that their employers would have a very solid reason for that kind of policy. They should also understand that the employer has a lot to deal with on a daily basis that they will not be able to fully understand.

The employers can also be a bit more empathetic. Times have changed and people not only have more options available to them but their motivation to work has also changed dramatically. The employers can also keep a lookout for telltale signs and preempt this kind of situation. They will have to keep the lines of communication open by making sure they acknowledge and understand the feedback they receive.


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