According to U.S. census data, the number of American workers holding down more than one job has increased over the last two decades. What’s driving the trend for working a second job?
There are several reasons people might start up a side hustle. Online job opportunities and gig sites (like Uber and Doordash) make it easy to start up a part-time job alongside full-time work. Some people may want to pursue a passion, turning their talents into extra income.
The current state of the economy may also play a big role. From April 2021 through February 2023, inflation outpaced wage growth, likely inspiring people to look for extra sources of income.
Some employers might raise an eyebrow at the idea of their team members clocking in elsewhere. But there are pros and cons of second jobs among your workforce. And with the right approach, both you and your employees can benefit.
The dark side of the moon(lighting)
People taking second jobs can raise very valid concerns about employee engagement and wellbeing.
It’s natural for managers to worry about divided attention and potential burnout among their team members. After all, maintaining a work-life balance with a single job can be challenging, let alone balancing work and side hustle.
Financial security is another key player in this game. In one recent survey of workers holding down more than one job, 37% stated that inflation was the driving cause behind their decision. Employers may fear employees seeking additional income will leave for another job altogether.
These concerns have some employers implementing policies against working a side job. However, forbidding moonlighting could create a breeding ground for discontent.
Employees might feel financially strangled, leading to decreased job satisfaction and engagement.
It’s like telling someone they can’t have dessert—suddenly, it becomes the most appealing thing on the menu. In this case, the forbidden fruit might just be that part-time gig they’re eyeing. And who wants a team secretly checking job listings during lunch breaks?
Prohibiting it outright might inadvertently lead to a culture of secrecy and evasion. Which makes it hard for both parties to navigate the balance between professional commitment and personal pursuits.
The benefits of working a second job
Let’s look at the myriad of ways moonlighting can be a win-win for both employees and employers.
1. Diversity of skills and ideas
Working a second job can introduce a fresh perspective and a diverse set of skills to the workplace. Employees who engage in second jobs often have exposure to different industries, technologies, and work cultures.
This exposure can lead to new ideas, approaches, and solutions for the primary employer.
2. Increased job satisfaction
Employees who moonlight often report higher levels of job satisfaction than those who don’t. This may be because moonlighting allows employees to pursue their passions and interests outside of their primary job.
Or, it can provide an outlet for employees who are starting to feel stagnant at work, but who aren’t ready to pursue career advancement yet.
In either case, stretching their skills and trying new jobs can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and purpose.
3. Enhanced flexibility and retention
Allowing employees to moonlight can be a powerful retention strategy. When employees feel secure in their positions and have the flexibility to pursue their passions outside of work, they’re more likely to remain loyal to the company.
Increased employee retention means a stable, experienced team.
4. Financial stability and productivity
One of the key moonlighting benefits is improved employee financial wellness. When financial stress is alleviated, individuals tend to be happier, more productive, and more engaged at their primary job.
This is because when they’re not distracted by money worries, they’re better able to focus on their work and be more productive. Plus, financially stable employees are more likely to be present and engaged at work.
5. Skill transfer and cross-pollination
Employees who work in diverse roles can bring insights and skills from one job to another.
Skill transfer and cross-pollination can benefit the company in several ways:
- Improved problem-solving: Employees with experience in different industries and roles may have a wider range of problem-solving skills.
- Increased innovation: Employees who are exposed to new ideas and approaches may be more likely to come up with innovative solutions to challenges.
- Greater adaptability: Employees who have experience in different work environments may be more adaptable to change and better able to handle new challenges.
6. Entrepreneurial spirit
Working a second job can foster an entrepreneurial spirit among employees. Those involved in side ventures may develop a keen sense of initiative and resourcefulness.
Plus, as mentioned above, working in other companies and roles can help workers develop stronger business skills.
7. Networking opportunities
Second jobs often come with networking perks. Employees engaging in multiple professional environments can expand their network, creating potential collaborations and partnerships that may benefit both the individual and the employer in unexpected ways.
Benefits that networking opportunities can bring to a company include the following:
- Employees who moonlight often have a wider network of contacts, which can be a source of new talent for the company.
- Networking opportunities can lead to new partnerships and collaborations with other companies.
- Networking can help increase the company’s brand awareness and reputation in the industry.
If your company wants to tap into all these benefits, you need to embrace the positives of moonlighting. And that means creating an environment where both personal and professional growth are celebrated.
Making both jobs work
Companies that embrace the positives of moonlighting can create a more engaged, productive, and innovative workforce. Here are some ways you can support your employees and help them thrive in all their life’s work:
- Establish moonlighting policies: Clear employer policies on second jobs can help avoid conflicts of interest. And ensure employees respect their primary job, meaning they do things like stick to their work schedules and keep company information confidential,
- Encourage and support employees who moonlight: Companies can encourage and support employees who moonlight by providing them with resources and training.
- Celebrate the successes of employees who moonlight: Recognize their achievements and provide them with opportunities to share their experiences with the rest of the workforce.
- Continue to support training and development: Employees may gain expertise and skills through working a second job. But to ensure they continue to grow, invest in the upskilling and reskilling that will help them succeed in their current roles. Help them see that you care about their future with you.
- Offer financial wellness programs: Help lighten the income worries that may be driving people to seek additional employment. Create a financial wellness strategy and offer training that will help them manage their finances.
Embrace moonlighting by building a culture of trust
The ways employers view working a second job are changing. Instead of approaching it with skepticism, many are beginning to see it as a testament to the diverse and dynamic talents within their workforce.
The steps above can help you build a foundation of trust with your employees so you both benefit from their outside work lives.
When employees know they are trusted to manage their time and pursue personal and professional growth, it sets the stage for a harmonious work environment. A workplace where everyone feels happy, safe, and valued.