Compensation, HR Management, HR Policies & Procedures

Why Should Employers Support Moonlighting?

With the growth of the gig economy, more and more employers find themselves with employees who have another job on the side. This might be a part-time job, or it might be a side gig or “side hustle” as it’s sometimes called. For example, perhaps some of your employees also drive for Uber or Lyft, or perhaps they complete tasks at one of the various online sites devoted to quick task work.

More and more people are finding secondary sources of income separate from their primary job. Employers are often wary of this, concerned it may take focus away from their work or reduce the employee’s availability. But there are many potential benefits for the primary employer too. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that employers may want to support—rather than prohibit—moonlighting and side gigs:

  • It can reduce wage pressure. If employees are able to make a little extra money on the side, they’re more able to meet their financial obligations, which can take some of the pressure for raises off their primary employer. (Note: This can be the case regardless of the pay level of the employee.) This can improve employee retention and reduce the number of employees who are actively looking for a new job.
  • It can reduce pressure for more hours. Similar to the point above, employers may feel pressure to give employees more hours to allow the employees to make a full-time income. Or employees may be counting on overtime work to make more money. The employer may not be able to guarantee this. If employees have another source of income, this pressure may be reduced.
  • Side jobs may be a way for employees to fulfill personal or creative goals. This may allow them to stay in a job that is imperfect while still gaining personal satisfaction. In effect, it becomes a retention tool.
  • It can alleviate personal or financial stress. Employees who are able to fulfill either personal or financial needs (as noted above) may be less stressed and more relaxed at work, which can have cascading benefits for the employer in terms of improved employee satisfaction and morale.
  • Many side gigs could have a direct benefit for the primary employer. For example, if the employee opts to tutor or teach something industry-related, the employer may benefit from the increased public visibility. Or if the individual is performing some type of public service, the primary employer may benefit from the positive reputation associated with these activities.

Despite these potential benefits, employers are often concerned about possible risks associated with employees working somewhere else. They may fear that the employee may opt to work for a competitor, for example. The key here is to address the real problem, not the moonlighting. If the fear is working for a competitor, consider a non-compete agreement if appropriate. If the fear is being stretched too thin to meet internal goals, then have frequent check-ins with employees to ensure they’re on track, and address any shortfalls for what they are—they’re not necessarily related to the side work.

Does your organization have a policy related to employee moonlighting?