Moonlighting Part 2 – How to Navigate This HR Challenge?

Acknowledging the challenges of ‘Moonlighting’

In our previous blog post, we threw light on employee ‘Moonlighting’ and introduced the importance of making policy changes to deal with this HR challenge. It’s becoming increasingly common for disgruntled employees (44 percent of employed Americans) to switch to side hustle or freelance work to keep their bodies and mind together, especially when the economic climate is unfavorable.

It can be tough to navigate the challenges brought about by employee ‘Moonlighting’. Conflict of interest, low productivity, and poor job performance have certainly pushed HR professionals to review current employment policies. The acknowledgment of the challenges of ‘Moonlighting’ is the first step towards finding solutions that create a win-win for both employees and organisations.

Giving a heads up on ‘Moonlighting’

When it comes to dealing with ‘Moonlighting’, it’s imperative that employers keep a laser-sharp focus on increasing employee satisfaction. Whether or not to allow employees to engage in a side hustle or freelance project is certainly at the discretion of the employer, depending on the nature of the business, the number of hours required to achieve targets, and the overall performance of employees.

As of October 2021, 7 in 10 remote workers worked two full-time jobs. 31 percent of American employees holding two full-time jobs log in for 50 to 70 hours a week (Source). The trend has set in after most employers started encouraging their employees to engage in a side hustle of their choice.

Giving a heads up on ‘Moonlighting’ can help employers determine any conflict of interest becoming a possibility. If relevant HR policies are in place, allowing ‘Moonlighting’ can help employers to remind employees about the expected performance standards that the organisation holds.

Devising policies around ‘Moonlighting’

While there may not be any legal binding on the number of jobs that an employee can work, it’s great to have a ‘Moonlighting’ policy in case your organisation can accommodate the need of employees for a side hustle. It’s not about prohibiting them, but about communicating clearly your expectations.

Ideally, you should draft a ‘Moonlighting’ policy that addresses the following three key aspects:

  • Employee’s side hustle interfering with primary employment.
  • Possible conflict of interest that may arise between employees and their freelance work/side hustle.
  • Terms and conditions around the number of working hours required in the primary job and performance targets of employees.
  • Any implications around data protection and disclosures.
  • Formal approval

HR policies around areas such as annual compensation, perks and benefits, and performance appraisal can certainly help organisations increase job satisfaction among employees, motivating them to contribute their 100%. Positive incentives and appraisals can give employees who are considering a side hustle enough reason to stick around.

However, it’s important to make employees aware of company policies if an organisation doesn’t  approve of ‘Moonlighting’. Communicating clearly what is allowed and not allowed sets clear expectations right at the beginning of starting employment, enabling businesses to keep the challenges of ‘Moonlighting’ at bay.