Managing Employee Moonlighting: Issues & Implications | Aparna Sharma | Consulting Editor | The People Management
Human Resource Management (HRM) is undergoing a change and coming up with new techniques for effectively managing the employees. The most important benefit that an employee receives from a job is the monetary benefit or compensation. Though most of the people manage with a single job, the concept of dual jobbing is becoming increasingly common. This concept of double jobbing is called Moonlighting. It provides the employees with the much needed monetary support and also provides an outlet for creativity and a scope to do much more. However, it does suffer from certain limitations from the point of view of both employees as well as employers.
Moonlighting can be viewed as a persistent as well as a transitory phenomenon. In persistent moonlighting, the second job rarely becomes the primary occupation whereas in case of transitory moonlighting the employee has an intention to shift careers. Once the employee decides to switch the job, he/she stops moonlighting.
Why Do Employees Go For Moonlighting?
Employees have various reasons for opting for a second job. Though monetary consideration seems to be the obvious reason behind it yet there are other factors that prompt an employee to take up a second job. The major reasons behind moonlighting are discussed below:
1. Monetary Reasons: Money is the major benefit that an employee receives in exchange for the efforts put into the job by him/her. Money helps in satisfying the basic physiological needs and safety and security needs, the first two levels of Maslow’s need hierarchy. The second job helps in bringing additional income for the employee. In a country like India, where pay levels are not so high, employees resort to taking up more than one job to satisfy their basic needs which can be fulfilled by money.
2. Work Experience: Many employees want to gain more experience in their field. This is especially true for new entrants who want maximum exposure in a limited amount of time. Doing two jobs at the same time gives them an opportunity to get maximum experience in a short span of time.
3. Acquisition of Skills: Employees learn new skills which enhances their personal growth. The increased skillset further improves their employability.
4. Explore Career Options: Often employees are not content with their present career choices. They may want to explore other career options while not leaving their current job. By taking up a second job simultaneously, they can discover new opportunities in different streams.
5. Job Security: Job stability is a major concern for employees. In case one job does not provide stability, the employees may take up another job to meet their basic needs whenever the first job becomes unavailable.
6. Setting up Own Business: Many employees want to set up their own business. Since the initial stage of any business requires investment and the returns come later, they stay on the job and treat the job as a shock absorber. The job also teaches them the skills which will be needed to set up a successful business. So the employees hone their skills on the job and use it as a shock absorber in case their business venture proves to be unsuccessful.
CATEGORIES OF MOONLIGHTING
Blue Moonlighting: When an employee is unsatisfied with his/her pay in the current job, he/she starts looking for a part time job. However when the employee is not able to find any part time job, his/her efforts go in vain. This is called blue moonlighting.
Quarter Moonlighting: When an employee takes up a part time job along with his present job and spends some of his/her time on the second job, it is termed as quarter moonlighting. The employee usually does this to supplement his/her current salary and satisfy the basic needs.
Half Moonlighting: In this scenario, the employee devotes half of the time to the second job or to the newly set up business. The second job or the business enables the employee to lead a comfortable life.
Full Moonlighting: In full moonlighting, the employee devotes whole of the time to the second job or new business. The employee stays on the first job only as a shock absorber.
ADVANTAGES OF MOONLIGHTING
1. Job Mobility: Moonlighting helps an employee to move from one job to another, thereby providing mobility. It increases the chances of getting a new job or a new business while minimizing the chances of being unemployed.
2. Builds a Strong Network: Being exposed to more people expands the network base of employees. If the employee works in an industry which acts as a supplier or distributor for the first employer, both the organisations stand to gain from it.
3. Improved Skill Set: Since the employees are able to gain expertise and hone their skills, the employer also enjoys the benefit of the increased skill set of employees. The employee is able to perform better due to the improved knowledge and skills thereby benefitting the employer.
4. Low Employee Turnover: Since employees are economically satisfied, there are lower chances of employee turnover, especially when employees engage in persistent moonlighting.
ISSUES IN MOONLIGHTING
1. Over worked Employees and Poor Health: If the employees are engaged in two jobs, they tend to exhaust themselves. Owing to the physical and mental demands of two jobs, they face stress and exhaustion. Such employees are not able to give their best in any of the jobs. Due to excessive work, they may face several health related problems.
2. Threat of Competition and Business Secrecy: When an employee works for another employer or starts his/her own business which is similar to his first job, there is a fear of competition faced by the first employer. In such a situation, there is a conflict of interest. The first employer may also be concerned about the confidentiality of his business secrets.
3. Inefficiency: Due to handling two jobs, the employee may not be able to focus on the present job thereby reducing the efficiency of the organisation. It negatively affects the employee’s performance on the first job.
4. Ethical Dilemma: Moonlighting poses an ethical dilemma for the employees. A major problem arises when an employee works for two employers who are from the same industry. If employees start using the information from one employer for the other, it may lead to major problems. Also, if employees use their sources, physical as well as intellectual, from the employer for their own business or the other job, it will cause ethical problems. The employer may even consider it stealing.
IMPLICATIONS FOR EMPLOYERS
Employers are getting increasingly concerned about moonlighting by employees. It poses several challenges in front of the management. It is argued that employees have the right to utilise their free time as they consider appropriate. Freelancing is common for many employees and with the option of working from home, employees find taking up a part time job highly lucrative. It is better if rather than banning moonlighting; employers find ways of handling it effectively.
Employers need a proactive approach for managing employee moonlighting. The main concern of employers is that moonlighting should not hamper the performance of their organisation. For this purpose, managers should have an explicit moonlighting policy. The moonlighting policy must specify the company rules regarding moonlighting.
Employers may take the following steps to effectively manage moonlighting:
1. An Agreement to not work for competitors or start a competitive business: Employers need to ensure that the employees do not work with or engage in a business which is a direct competitor. It greatly reduces the risk of losing business secrecy. A non-compete clause must be inserted in the employment contract.
2. Avoid Conflict of Interest: No employee must engage in a second job whose objectives conflict with that of the employer.
3. Revision of Minimum Wages: Employers must ensure that employees receive the minimum compensation which is essential for their basic needs. Wages and salaries may be augmented by certain incentives. If the economic needs of employees are fulfilled in the present job, it will greatly reduce the need of taking up a second job.
4. Keep the Two Jobs Separate: The second job must not interfere in the working of the first job. The employee must not spend the time dedicated for the first job on the other job. Also, the resources of the first job must not be used for fulfilling the obligations of the second job.
5. Permission for Taking Second Job: The employee must obtain the approval of the employer before engaging in a second job or business. This will benefit both the employer as well as the employee. The employee will be free of the fear of being discovered and the guilt of hiding something and the employer can ensure that the second job does not conflict with or hampers the employee’s performance on the present jobs.
A large number of employees take up a second job to fulfil various needs. The focus of the employers must not be on stopping the employees, rather they should focus on preventing any conflict of interest. If employers want, they may prohibit moonlighting but the employer-employee relationship extends beyond the legal contracts. In order to maintain harmonious relationship between employer and employee, a well-crafted moonlighting policy will go a long way.