The conversation involving moonlighting these days generally carves a negative image of the employee who is doing it. The conversations tend to paint a villainous image of the employee, one who is leading a “double life” and even “backstabbing” the organization where he or she is employed full-time. But in all these conversations in the country, being largely led by the USD 130 Bn IT industry, what is being ignored is that what yardstick is applied for senior management of the organization is not being used for juniors.
When directors of one company take board positions in other companies, can it be called moonlighting? The senior management of a company putting in their own money in start-ups and cashing out at later stages, is that moonlighting? When a senior or even a junior, employee invests in the stock market and makes money, is that moonlighting? When an editor authors a book or writes an opinion piece for another publication be called moonlighting? So why should every ancillary activity by an employee beyond 9-5 work hours be called moonlighting?
Interestingly, the pandemic and the resultant lockdown gave an opportunity to people to pick up new skills and talents which they now seek to use in myriad ways and on different platforms. Not that it did not exist before the pandemic, but it is in the post-covid world that so-called moonlighting is being seen and felt even more because employees have found and learned new ways to engage with the outside world a lot more.
Startling facts are coming out from the corporate world these days, especially from the IT sector. An identity verification platform IDfy has recently stated that about 40–50% of its IT clients are trying to find out if their employees are moonlighting. A number of companies are trying to tally IT Returns filing and Provident Fund balances of employees to detect moonlighting by them. This is only going to make the employee wary of their employers. This may even fray the fabric of trust that should exist between the organization and employees.
While employees should be allowed to engage themselves in any activity that they may like in their free time, some checks and balances have to be outlined for smooth sailing. Some points can also be highlighted by the organization for convergence of the interest of the organization and the employee when they engage in ancillary activities. The protection of data and privacy concerns must be dealt with in an effective manner by the organization when they allow the employees to embrace outside tasks.