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Recently, food delivery app Swiggy announced the ‘Moonlight Policy’ that will allow its full-time employees to take up a second job for pro-bono or economic consideration.
Swiggy’s bold move could set a precedent as other companies could also follow suit owing to the high attrition rates they are facing and employees’ demands for more flexibility in work setup.
While Swiggy’s announcement has opened up an industry-wide debate, this was not the first time moonlighting made it to the news this year. Earlier in May, an employee of a Bengaluru-based company was found working for seven different companies.
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The work environment is rapidly evolving, especially since the pandemic, as more and more companies are now adopting an employee-centric approach.
Employer-employee relationships have also changed tremendously. For instance, in July 2022, Swiggy announced a permanent work-from-anywhere for the majority of its employees.
The aim of such policies is to motivate employees to pursue their passions, fulfil monetary goals and achieve personal development.
But why are more and more companies drafting more employee-friendly policies? What was Swiggy’s motivation behind the ‘Moonlight Policy’? Let’s consider its pros and cons.
In the last decade or so, we have moved from offline to online. Companies are now more people-centric than product-centric. Employees also prioritise job satisfaction to a greater extent.
Lately, a large section of employees want their jobs to speak to their passions and interests, especially the younger generation of professionals. Consequently, many companies have also changed how they hire, retain and engage with their employees.
Job opportunities are galore, and most employees quit if they are not satisfied with their workplace.
“People are quitting jobs they don’t enjoy in a matter of weeks. Going forward, organisations will have to evaluate roles they will hire for full time and those that they will contract,” says Arjun Pratap, CEO and Founder, EDGE Networks.
A survey by McKinsey reports that nearly two-thirds of the respondents in the US said that COVID-19 has caused them to reflect on their purpose in life. Further, around 50 per cent of them are reconsidering the kind of work they do. The rate goes even higher in the case of millennials.
What we are witnessing is a cultural shift, and there is a possibility that more companies will focus on employee-centric policies such as ‘moonlighting’ to retain talent.
Such policies ensure employees could take up projects that they are passionate about or earn some extra income with a side gig. This could lead to employee satisfaction which, in turn, could lead them to deliver their best at work.
Policies like moonlighting also allow them to attain additional skill sets which they can then use in their full-time job.
Further, shifting to remote work has definitely changed the larger mindset while job security as a concept has also lost its meaning over time.
“Working from home has allowed individuals to perform independently and boosted their self-confidence. This has led to people seeking opportunities to push their envelope and experiment with their professional journey,” said Dipesh Lakhotia, head of analytics, Britannia Industries Limited.
One of the primary factors behind Swiggy’s decision to announce the ‘Moonlight Policy’ was to tackle attrition. More employee-centric policies are expected to help companies reduce their attrition rates.
Attrition could be voluntary or involuntary; however, most of the time, it happens due to employees being unsatisfied, lower pay or unfavourable working conditions.
Policies such as ‘Moonlighting’ could remedy such factors and help bring down the attrition rates in organisations.
A fresh example of the effectiveness of such policies can be observed in the Indian IT scene. IT firms in India recorded double-figure attrition rates in the last few quarters. To tackle this, they are now offering increments, bonuses, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (Esops), internal job moves, access to higher education programmes and work-from-anywhere options. Perhaps, IT firms could also contemplate moonlighting next.
Moonlighting so far
Moonlighting is not something that could be considered relatively new. Startup founders have been moonlighting for years. Most founders choose to work on their startup ideas as a side project. It’s only when they see it turning into a prospective business that they choose to leave their jobs.
However, according to India’s labour laws, full-time employees in any organisation cannot have their own business or even work elsewhere. However, people have found unique ways to circumvent this.
Edtech firm ‘UpGrad’ also allows its teachers to teach in other institutions as guest lecturers; however, they don’t have any official policies in place for moonlighting. Co-founder Mayank Kumar told the Economic Times that UpGrad has no plans to introduce such policies yet. “It would be extremely difficult to monitor,” Kumar said.
Similarly, many companies in the hospitality and travel sector allowed their employees to moonlight during the pandemic. However, some of them eventually removed the option, ET reported.
Moonlighting going forward
While it might be premature to say whether most companies will allow their employees to moonlight, some experts say such policies will be restricted to new-age startups. Factors such as size and employee strength will also impact organisations’ decision to allow their employees to moonlight or not.
Further, Swiggy is the only company that has announced such policies so far. While this might force other organisations to contemplate and rethink their policies, some companies will wait and see how the new policy pans out for Swiggy before diving into making a decision.