It’s no secret that inflation is making life more expensive, and people are trying to cope. As a result, many Americans supplement their income with short-term gig work. However, a growing number are taking a different approach: “Overemployment”. This is the act of having two or more remote jobs (usually full time) simultaneously. While putting in 40 hours each at two or more jobs may seem impressive, it raises questions about the impact on their “primary” employers and the ethical implications of overemployment.
Does Overemployment Equal “Time Theft”?
Some question whether overemployment is actually theft. Specifically theft of time and energy that could be devoted to any one of the employers. It’s essential to consider an employee’s motivations when pursuing overemployment, and whether they are in breach of contract with the company. Employees often choose overemployment to improve their financial stability, and cover expenses. Many have financial goals that they wouldn’t be able to reach without supplementing their income.
However, instead of viewing overemployment as time theft, focus on whether they are meeting their performance metrics and maintaining their quality of work. Are they available when they should be? Are there concerns about confidentiality? If their performance remains consistent, and your company does not have an anti-moonlighting policy, then the concerns may need to be reassessed.
Signs of Overemployment
Erratic Scheduling: Employees may struggle to maintain a consistent work schedule, may shift hours or request time off frequently. Overtime tracking software would be helpful in the usage, and possible abuse of overtime.
Burnout: Overextended employees are more prone to experience burnout. If you feel that your company’s expectations aren’t the culprit, it could be another employer. Talk with the employee to rule out any other causes.
Decline in Performance: This is one of the most obvious signs of overemployment. Maintaining multiple jobs can be tiring for anyone, and quality of work is the first to drop. Look for declining productivity, increased errors, and missed deadlines.
Inconsistent Availability: Overemployed individuals will struggle to be available for meetings and even impromptu discussions, and will often keep their camera off during video calls.
Request time off using a mobile app
Request time off using a desktop
What HR Can Do
Refer to your employee manual to discuss whether holding multiple jobs is allowed behavior. Conduct surveys to gauge both employee workloads and job satisfaction levels. This can help you determine if your employees could be prone to seek overemployment. Where possible, offer competitive salaries and other employee incentives to encourage their commitment to your organization alone. Remember, most people who seek overemployment do so to increase income to reach certain financial goals.
What Really Matters
Overemployment is a multifaceted issue that requires HR professionals to approach it with sensitivity and understanding. While concerns about time theft are valid, recognizing the motivations behind employees’ pursuit of multiple full-time jobs is important. Engaging in open communication and offering flexible solutions can help organizations and their employees strike a balance between personal financial goals and job commitments. Ultimately, addressing overemployment as a cooperative challenge rather than a confrontational one can lead to a win-win situation for all parties involved.