A recent trend in the corporate world is moonlighting — the practice of an employee practicing a side hustle while still maintaining a full-time job. The issue arises when the employee doesn’t inform the company of their dual employment and breaches their trust and loyalty.
While this has raised loads of speculation, some companies still do permit its continuation. Other businesses strongly frown upon it claiming employees are cheating them. “It feels like cheating on your partner while you are in a committed relationship. How can you spend time working in some other business when you are being trusted by another company? It is a bad move if either company finds out,” said a team leader from a South Asian agency.
Why should you accept healthy levels of moonlighting?
Working at a single full-time job might lead to burnout for some of your employees and deter you from improving team effectiveness. Having a second job will give them the space to explore and expand their portfolios. It will help them pursue jobs they are passionate about — resulting in better performance for their full-time job, too.
It would act as a change of scenery and something to look forward to for your team to enhance their cultural competence. They can grow themselves in whatever niche they choose and bring better ideas to the table. The best part is how they can stimulate their minds and deliver creative results at both jobs.
It will also help them network and build their list of contacts. This will help them find other jobs after leaving your company in the future. Apart from personal growth, they might also be focused on financial gains due to a lack of monetary aid. The need for a second job could vary among your employees, but there are some negative outcomes to this as well.
Why isn’t this accepted?
Some employees tend to get tired and drained after their side hustle is done. They find it hard to return to the grind the next day and fail to deliver good results at their full-time job. It is possible that they are more passionate and invested in their side hustle than in the main one.
There have also been instances of employees working on their side projects during office hours and wasting their employer’s time. It almost feels like stealing your office’s time and money to use their resources for your work. Some employers also feel their work is not completed and their staff is compromising their work.
How can you meet in the middle?
An ideal company has motivated and driven employees who moonlight but still deliver good results. The team respects their management and the manager accepts the dual employment with healthy boundaries.
It helps the team diversify their portfolio but still pay back their company with good performance. They can work on their entrepreneurial mindset and any motives behind the part-time venture. Both parties win and the manager has a motivated and strong team of creative individuals.
Some simple yet effective ways to meet your employees in the middle are:
- Permit them to take side hustles in different fields
It works to permit your employees to find jobs in fields different from your company’s niche. For example, if your business is into digital marketing, they can work part-time at a book publishing house or a SaaS agency.
If your employee is a content writer at your business, they can work as a campaign manager or SEO analyst at their other job. This will prevent them from overusing their skills and not being able to work at your business effectively.
“Some employees worked as content writers at my company and also as a side hustle. It was hard for them during special occasions such as New Year and Black Friday as their ideas would be spent in either one job. They would then find it hard to handle the same tasks in the other job,” said a content creator from an agency in Hyderabad.
- Determine when they can work on their other projects
Make it clear that your employees are not permitted to use their work hours working for their side hustle. They need to stay loyal to your business and not waste your time and resources for their personal needs.
Try to ask them what hours they have accepted for the other job. They may work before or after office hours but not during. At the same time, they must ensure that their work doesn’t clash with yours in any way.
For example, an employee must not accept jobs that require them to be up all night working on a project. It will make it hard for them to arrive at work on time and do justice at their job the whole day. They must explore as they please but not let their cultural competencereduce.
- Frequently analyze performance and results
Inform your employees that they can pursue freelance roles but their performance at your job must not decrease. Have frequent review meetings and track your employees’ work to gauge their progress.
If you notice any lag in deliverables or performance, nip it in the bud and inform your team. Don’t confront them later or at the end of the month. The same day you notice poor performance, have a direct chat with your employee and ask them the reason behind the discrepancy. Maybe they have some other personal issues on their mind hindering their work.
In any case, never allow your employees to compromise their productivity with your company while accepting side jobs. They need to balance both equally and ensure that the work doesn’t get delayed. If they notice such issues themselves, they need to put an end to either job and stay loyal.
- Encourage transparency and honesty
Request your team to stay honest with you and keep you informed about side hustles and projects. It is always best to welcome transparency and have a culture of openness in the business.
Encourage your team to update their LinkedIn or other social media platforms about their work. It is open for you to check what they are doing and monitor their progress while still giving them space to work on their entrepreneurial mindset.
“I used to work on various freelance projects but never updated them anywhere. This was because my team was following me on all social media platforms. One day, my manager came across my LinkedIn profile and asked me why my work experience had not been updated. When I asked him how he found out, he pointed out that his number was given in my resume as a reference. The moment I got a side job, the recruiter called him to ask about my performance. He had been hiding it from me the whole time and not the other way around!” said a sales professional from South India.
- Set boundaries — employees mustn’t rope in their peers
Set boundaries with your team about the nature of their side hustles. They can work wherever they please (following the above rules) but they cannot rope in their colleagues. This might lead to several members of your team working together on other projects outside of the office.
“There was an employee at my office who worked on several freelance projects at the same time. At one point, he was not able to balance all his work, so he began to rope in the other employees. He offered them a portion of his income and they began to work under him. It felt like a conspiracy as a fair share of our team was working for a different company without the management knowing,” said the team lead of a SaaS marketing agency in Chennai.
It is bad to follow similar practices, but even worse to find out about them through a different source. Ask your team to inform you first before accepting such projects. If they see potential and wish to hone their skills with such group endeavors, the least they can do is keep you informed.
Moonlighting is a good way for your team to stay energized and on their toes rather than falling prey to a monotonous routine. But at the same time, it won’t do you good to leave them without boundaries. They are permitted to work on their growth and diversify their portfolio, but not at the expense of your business.
Ask them to be honest and transparent with you about what they are working on and why. You needn’t know all the details about their job — but you need to know what’s happening behind your back.
Failure to have such conversations could lead to toxic work environments and a loss of trust and loyalty. Try to foresee such situations and prevent the need for your employees to find a second job. Maybe they need resources, contacts, or financial help that you could provide in your company.
Communicate openly with your team and show your concern for their well-being and your goal of improving team effectiveness. Learn more about how you can build healthy boundaries with your employees and create a culture of transparency at your workplace.