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Moonlighters : Friends or Foes ?
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The facts are staring at our face. The Indian industry who are already being severely bothered by the attrition problem will now have to face a new problem; that of moonlighters. Who are moonlighters? Well if that’s the question you are asking then you haven’t really kept yourself updated. And if you are in the HR field then please read the rest of the article care fully; for very soon you’ll be asked to make policies to accommodate moonlighters. Before we go any further here is what the term means: it is used to categorize those professionals working for more than one company simultaneously. Yes more than one job, now you realize the problem they will get along when they fully arrive in India. Do not be under the misconception that if you managed part timers then why can’t you manage moonlighters. For one thing, with moonlighters we’ll face problems like divided allegiance, conflicts of interest and poor job performance. And these problems will just be the tip of the iceberg. There would need to be policies to govern this segment of workers so that your company gets the best out of them. And while you doing that, remember the other employer is already planning out his strategy to combat this. These are the thoughts that have given sleepless nights to all concerned. However, most also recognize that they cannot, and do not want to, control their employees’ off-duty activities. In addition, both employers and employees are embracing new relationships that include the use of part time and temporary workers, and innovations such as job sharing and telecommuting.

Lets look at some figure from a research done in the USA, the rate of moonlighting has been growing at a fairly constant rate for the past 10 years (about 4% to 5% of non-farm labor), the rate of male moonlighters increased from7.9% in 1995 to 10% in 2000, and the rate for women has increased steadily from 2.2% to 4.7% during the same period. Hope by now we have been able to convince you on the gravity of the problem and the reality of moonlighters. So the next thing to do would be to understand them, so that they can be handled in a better and a more productive manner. Let us peep into the various aspects that lead to moonlighting. • To ease financial problems. Financial problems may be temporary or long term, so the length of external employment may be based on the severity of the financial issues. • To gain further work experience. Some employees want to acquire new skills. Others use second jobs to explore career changes. • To balance work and outside obligations. Some employees work multiple part-time jobs, as opposed to a single full-time position, to allow more flexibility for personal obligations or recreational interests. • Another reason is that we Indians often pick our studies on demand of the society and our parents. This means that we often end up in careers which we were not meant to be in the first place. These are just some of the reasons that make people take up more than one job. One thing that is clearly seen from the reasons is that they are justifiable and so an alternative has to be found. HR polices would have to be rewritten, because in today’s fight for efficient employees a company would not want to loose their better employees to a company with a more liberal moonlighting policy. Just incase you are thinking if moonlighting employees are worth so much headache, think again. For facts from researches are certainly in their favour.

Here is what the findings lay down as the general profile of moonlighters In general, they score higher on self-esteem than their one-job counterparts. They participate in more voluntary organizations. They also tend to score higher in dominance. They suffer less from anxiety and are more practical, realistic, emotionally stable and independent. After establishing the fact that we can no longer ignore moonlighters, it’s crucial to renovate your HR Policies to give more space to these new members in your family. And here are a few tips for the architects (read HR managers) Determining the Need for a Policy Most experts point out that the purposes behind a moonlighting policy are important and should be communicated. Typically, the policy should explain the employer’s performance expectations, warn against conflicts of interest, and remind employees of confidentiality. Proponents of a separate policy support this argument by emphasizing that a well written policy can reinforce the employer’s position and make employees consider more carefully the possible strains a second job can create. Outside employment policies often are used by organizations that have numerous employees who work second jobs and by those that do not have separate conflicts-of –interest or confidentiality policies.

And now how to structure the policy….. Structuring the Policy Whether developing a separate moonlighting policy or incorporating provisions into existing policies, take into account the concern to prevent conflicts and the employee’s need or desire to work. To help achieve this balance, the policy should include the following four provisions: 1. A requirement that employees inform you of any outside employment. In addition, they should be required to obtain prior permission before pursuing the activity. 2. A review process for requests and specific criteria for approval. Requests from higher level and exempt employees may be evaluated using more stringent criteria than requests from others. A single person or department should be responsible for the final decision. 3. A statement prohibiting behaviors that negatively impact the employer. In particular, prohibit competition and the use of company resources, time and paid absences for the secondary employment. The policy should also discourage any work activity that affects the employee’s job performance, punctuality, loyalty and ability to fulfill other responsibilities of the primary job. 4. A reminder that disciplinary action can be taken if the outside work causes or contributes to job-related problems. As an alternative to strict regulation of off-duty conduct, reinforce intent to address specific job performance or conflict-of-interest problems related to secondary employment.

Author : Sajiri Chidgupkar

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