Moonlighting, Side Gigs and Side Hustles

Moonlighting | GenZ | Employee-Employer Issue

Hustle culture, Moonlighting, Side gigs, and Side hustles are now all synonymous with GenZ and how they work.

In Today’s edition:

  • What exactly is Moonlighting?
  • What are companies’ concerns?
  • Genz and Side Gigs/Businesses/hustles

What is Moonlighting?

Moonlighting is the practise of working a second job or multiple jobs in addition to one's full-time job. Some companies have been staunchly opposed, while others are allowing employees to do whatever they want with their time.

“How do we really define Moonlighting? Moonlighting is just a very fancy term. If we go back, we need to understand - what are people trying to fulfill. Is it growth, economical, or what are they trying to solve? If they can’t solve it in their full-time job, then it is an employer problem more than an employee problem. The resource planning needs to work around keeping employee satisfied in the job. On the flip side, I definitely encourage people to go ahead and do things that do not involve their core work. The nature of the work should be a little more diversified. If you're working at a company and then you again want to go ahead and do the same work somewhere else, I just feel you might be too exhausted and you will break after a point.” says Sufiyan Sait, who works at Toplyene and started a community called The Talent Deck.

Moonlighting is considered to be a source of additional income. However, while extra money is always appealing, it is not the only reason why people look for alternative employment opportunities. Some do it out of passion, while others do it out of boredom.

Alpana Sharma who works as Trade Marketing Manager at Ab InBev says- “I was taking a modeling gig, I called my manager up to ask. She told me as long as it's not a direct competitor and is not affecting your work here, you can take it up. I am a very creative person and I keep taking up a lot of tasks on the side. So, I added everybody from my company to my Instagram, from my CEO to the sales executive, because I hate lying. I can’t always be wondering if somebody's gonna see the thing and if they're gonna find what I'm doing other things, so it's like I just tell them myself. My marketing director actually came up to me once and said: We love the way you promote the brands on Instagram and the way you’re creating a persona for yourself. So it has been good and healthy here. As long as you keep everybody in the loop, it is not moonlighting”

Aakarsh Kawatra who has a PPO from one of the top consultancies, and is a wedding dance instructor on the side said “As far as a person understands their responsibility and their accountability to the organization, I don't think it is a problem. If I report on time, I do all the assigned work for the organization on time. They shouldn't care what I do apart from that. I love dancing, it keeps me alive, and I love teaching it to people and I want to keep doing it. After COVID, I have understood how life's short and uncertain, so I do what makes me happy”

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What Are Companies’ Concerns?

There has been a lot of chatter around productivity, quality of work, people using resources for a second gig, confidentiality, and legal factors involved. If we look at it, it comes from a broken employer-employee relationship.

“I think it comes from the employer first before it even goes to the employee. Now, if you feel that your team is not 110% occupied, that means the resource planning is screwed up. You don't know what to do with these people. And obviously, an empty mind is a devil. So people will then try to figure out what to do with the time that they have. If you're not able to fulfill anyone's economical situation or give them satisfaction in terms of work, they will look out to do things that make them a little more fulfilled. I think before you even go to the employee, I think it's the employer that is more or less taking the lead. But that being said, at times both of them are equal partners. At the end of the day, you,  just as a person, might be curious to learn. Why don't we just disclose this and the employer and employee can come up with a certain agreement, right?” - says Sufiyan Sait.

Prabhir Jha, Founder & CEO at  Prabhir Jha People Advisory, in conversation with Business Today said ~ that moonlighting refers to a fundamental collapse in trust and communication (between the employer and employee) and the ability of the top leadership to mingle with staff and pick these cues in time. “Yes, you can fire people because moonlighting is a violation of the contract as it exists, but you can’t fire 50,000 people. So, the solution is in improving the level of leadership conduct, maturing managerial competence, building greater trust, and recognizing that flexible working and working by choice is here to stay and to what extent can we accommodate. It’s about redefining the way we work,” he said at a panel called ‘Moonlighting: Digital Economy’s Bane or a New Reality?’

According to a study, 73% of employees indulge in moonlighting in India, and 61% say unethical.

Alpana says that “the first step is creating a policy that protects the company, but at the same time gives its employees some freedom. Then I think it's about training managers and leaders who can manage people who are picking up different things at the same time. Companies and employees have to go hand in hand here. If a company doesn’t allow it, then the opportunity cost of working with them is very high. I know more and more people are learning how to manage their time, they have their Saturdays booked every week. They are managing two calendars at the same time. So I think people are learning more and more about being able to implement moonlighting. I hope it reduces in two ways such that -

(i) people don't do things that are non-compliant.

(ii) I hope more companies give their employees a chance to do this. Nobody has to do this in secret.”

The policy formation is a very industry-specific issue, and while some industries may be more lenient in allowing the incidence of dual or multiple employment, others, such as data-driven, security, and consulting, will take a hard stance on the matter.

Side hustles and Side Gigs are a GenZ thing

“I think Gen Z is just much louder about it. Because I have seen all our drivers in Bombay and in Delhi, who have their own family business going on, but yet they drive cabs on the weekend to make an extra book. People who have seasonal businesses put all their properties online on Airbnb, and these people are in their 40s and 50s. And just because they don't market it as side hustles and side gigs, I think it's very unfair to say that they don't have them, because I have heard stories from my parents as well. So I think in general, human beings have always wanted to do different things. As a concept, it's started emerging now, the volume has increased.

Additionally, our expectations from our jobs have increased tremendously from generations before us. I think we're really hungry for more, to live the best life we can, and we don't settle. But, I think the concept of doing multiple things, at the same time, existed earlier too. But for more basic needs, neither is it going to change nor do I think that it should change. Because you're allowed to have different passions and different things that help you grow in your personal and professional life.” Says Alpana.

Aakarsh, on the other hand, says “It is a GenZ term. If I ask my parents, they have family time or a social obligation to fulfill. But for Gen Z it is their own time, space, and projects that matter the most. They will leave a gathering to go work.”

Harsh Mehta who handles Product at Josh talks and is a volunteer at The Product folks said "The key to efficiently work is time management. I see everybody in my community having full-time roles and still being an active participant here."

It's easy to see how and why moonlighting has become a popular trend. Making time for personal life and work is important for one's well-being and can lead to a more fulfilling life.

Alpana Sharma who works at AbInBev says ”Side gigs are not just a trend, it's a way of living now."

What we are pondering upon:

1) Language of Layoffs

2) Is Offboarding as important as Onboarding now?

3) Shh..Someone is Quiet Quitting