Ajit Narayan

Moonlighting and its impact on employer branding | Ajit Narayan | CMO | Socxo

Ajit NarayanTo really understand this, we first need to expand on our understanding of the term “employer brand” and how it is different from the “brand” that the company is selling. The employer brand is the sum of perceptions of the company from a corporate and as an employer at large. You might be good at selling soap (your brand) but how are you perceived as an employer and a corporate is what matters when you are recruiting.

For example, you might attract high achievers but might be breeding a culture of ruthlessness. So, the kind of the people who might want to work for you would be seeking high compensation for the stress that’s being dished out. And also, might be people who frequently change jobs in search of high compensation.

Companies as they become corporations want to attract the best talent, but also the place high value on integrity, emotional quotient, team spirit and skills. Because a company is a ship sailing in high waters. Any business takes a leaf out of Captain Kirk’s log:

“These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Some continue the journey, some fall to the wayside, some are well settled where they are… Everyone is trying in their own way.

But the fundamental truth is that it is a journey where you need people to come together. People make the journey interesting, give it wings and the ability to maneuver, to scale and the skills to fly the ship, to motivate each other and so on.

So given that people are the key, for the team to be invested in the business is key. You can’t fly two ships together. The second angle to this since we are talking moonlighting, is about thieves. A thief is someone who caught in the act. Else he or she is yet another human on the streets. So as an employee you have a contractual obligation to be uni occupational. Unless the employment letter says so. So, this chatter around moonlighting is just a silly justification of the “thieves who are caught”.

If more experience, more money, more world view is sought, become a contractual worker and you will have all the flexibility to do all that you seek. Beware, even there, you have non-compete clauses. As you cannot be working for a direct competitor.

That said, what does it do for Employer Branding? The perspective is outside in. And not inside out.

First and foremost, as a corporate brand, you stand for the values of the organization. And that plays up in the minds of people who value working for the companies. These are not small players in the market, but established, well-oiled and well-paying organizations who have stood the test of time. They are market leaders. And what they say or do, has an effect beyond just their organizations. So, by taking a stance true to their contractual obligations they have established that they are leaders. And to work with leaders, you have to be of a certain mettle and mindset. And that’s only getting re-iterated.

Second, it is not necessary to molly-coddle crooked mentality. You have to have the gumption to be firm in your stand. And that’s a positive message to shape up in the industry.

Third, it says a lot to those thousands who are currently employed with integrity and those who have the integrity to work and grow in a common workplace. If nothing else, it is a refreshing culture of firm and decisive corporations where “Chalta hai” attitude is not permitted. And that’s a good thing. It is not about a few who have been caught, it is about the thousands who are giving it their all for the company they are working in.

As an employer brand, it speaks of working (bench or otherwise) with integrity. And the value of the integrity to employees. So, people with the jugaad mindset will have to change completely or leave. Moonlighting for some (given their mindset) is good. But done with finesse and contractually correct. You cannot be working for a direct competitor and then be holier than thou when you caught

Or find ways to be completely discreet. The very term Moonlighting states it is having a second job typically and discretely at night. Which means if you are caught, you face the consequences.

For the real and ambitious few who seek knowledge and breadth of learning beyond their current work, it is a signal to approach their employers directly for the same and there should be more cases of people going beyond their call of duty and growing. Which is something organizations need to take stock of and offer as a opportunity within. Who know one employee can do two jobs within the same organization and get everything covered including money as well.

That is something to see if employees and organization take-up as a challenge and execute as well. Otherwise, it just small talk.