Moonlighting has sparked off an intense debate in the tech space.
“Moonlighting” is a term you might be hearing more and more these days. It’s a growing trend in the business world that startups, especially tech companies, should know about. But what exactly is moonlighting, and why should you care? Let’s take a closer look.
What is moonlighting?
Moonlighting is the practice of holding down two or more jobs at the same time. Usually, one of these jobs is your primary source of income, while the other is a side gig or freelance work. Many moonlighters want to start a side business or freelancing gig to make some extra money, pursue a passion outside their nine-to-five job or gain more experience and build up their resume.
The dived opinions on whether moonlighting is acceptable have led to a huge debate. As per the Indeed Hiring Tracker report, 19% of employees are interested in moonlighting. While many employees from the healthcare and pharmaceutical, fast-moving consumer goods and manufacturing industries see moonlighting as “violating the employment contract”, more than 40% of IT employees are open to the idea. Apart from workers, employers are also reacting very differently to the growing trend.
How companies respond to moonlighting
Since Wipro fired roughly 300 employees for moonlighting, the word has become a hot topic of discussion. It all started when Rishad Premji, Chairman of India’s fourth-largest IT services company Wipro, tweeted that moonlighting in the tech industry was “cheating – plain and simple”.
Wipro is not the only company concerned about it. Later in October 2022, IBM warned its employees against the practice, calling it a “serious conflict of interest and violation of trust.” Other major tech companies like HCL Technologies, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) also do not allow dual employment. TCS’s Chief Operating Officer, N. Ganapathy Subramaniam described it as an “ethical issue”.
While these big companies have raised concerns about the practice, the online food delivery platform Swiggy seems confident that its employees will be able to handle the extra workload. Swiggy has recently introduced a “moonlighting policy” to let its full-time employees take up projects outside but with certain guidelines and restrictions. “With the moonlighting policy, our goal is to encourage employees to pursue their passion without any constraints due to their full-time employment with us,” said a company spokesperson to The Economic Times.
Just like Swiggy, the CEO of Tech Mahindra, C. P. Gurnani, also showed support for moonlighting. He admitted that he might be willing to allow his employees to hold second jobs, “I have no problem. I would like to make it a policy,” he said.
What are the benefits of moonlighting?
Moonlighting may still be a controversial practice, but it seems that some companies like Swiggy are beginning to see the benefits of allowing their employees to take on outside projects.
For employees, moonlighting can be a great way to earn extra income with your skills and knowledge. This can help them make ends meet or save up for a big purchase. Additionally, moonlighting can help employees gain new skills and experiences that they may otherwise not acquire at their full-time job. They may also meet new people through moonlighting and open up networking opportunities. Also, your employees will appreciate your understanding of their need to moonlight—be it to provide for their family or save up—thereby strengthening the trust between you all.
Companies can also benefit from moonlighting. If you have employees who are interested in working additional hours, moonlighting can provide a way for them to do so without disrupting your normal business operations. Moreover, moonlighting can allow you to tap into new talent pools. Employees who have diverse skills and interests can bring new perspectives and ideas to the table, which can be beneficial for problem-solving and innovation.
Then why companies are opposing moonlighting?
First off, moonlighting can cut into the time that employees can devote to their full-time job. If an employee is working another job, they may not be able to give their full attention to their primary job, which can impact their work quality and productivity.
Furthermore, if an employee has more than one job, they may have conflicting schedules or responsibilities, which can lead to high-stress levels. They may also tend to have less control over their time as opposed to someone who has only one job. This could lead to physical strain and a diminished work-life balance.
Finally, some employers also worry about potential data and confidentiality breaches, especially when their employees work with a direct competitor. They are also concerned about workers using company resources for their second gig.
So how can employers deal with moonlighting?
To mitigate the risks brought forth by moonlighting, employers should communicate clearly their expectations around moonlighting and put policies in place to prevent conflict of interest. For instance, employers can add a non-compete clause to the employment contract to ensure their employees are not working for a competitor, thereby minimizing the risk of exposing the company’s confidential data or business ideas.
Additionally, employers should provide support to employees who are balancing multiple jobs, such as flexible work arrangements and access to wellness resources.
Finally, trust is essential when managing moonlighting employees. As long as they are meeting their obligations to your company and not breaching any confidentiality agreements, try to give them the freedom to work on whatever projects they choose outside of work hours.
In the end, moonlighting can’t be entirely prevented or controlled. But by being aware of the risks and taking steps to address them, you can help create a healthier and more productive workplace for everyone.
- Is It Ethical to Be “Overemployed”?
- The Remote Working Revolution
- Practical Ways of Showing Your Employees You Care
- Tips to Prevent Employee Burnout at the Workplace
Header image courtesy of Freepik