Rather than taking on a ‘side hustle,’ this practice sees workers work two jobs to earn dual salaries, without informing their employers.
According to a survey by lighting company E-conolight, 45% of US workers had at some point done work for another company while on the clock.
Isaac Price, of overemployed.com, a website which encourages the practice, told HR magazine that high-skill jobs with frequent layoffs make a perfect recipe for double employment.
He said: “Companies have been getting away with outsourcing, stagnating wages, and arbitrary layoffs driven more by short-term financial incentives (like executive compensation or appeasing their shareholders) than doing what's right for employees or customers.
“Employees have to fend for themselves, and like a business, we're diversifying our income streams to have better income security, less overworking and better mental health.”
Employers, said Price, should measure successful employment by results.
“As a writer, software developer or artist, the ‘capacity’ we’re after is in the final product.
He added: “As an employer, I’d rather have a super productive and talented knowledge worker providing 100 times the value of their salary, than chain them to a desk to produce at their maximum capacity – it’s a fundamentally flawed idea.”
He ended by warning employers: “If you want talented knowledge workers, then you, as the employer, better try to meet them halfway.”
Nicola Pease, founder and flexible working coach at consultancy Ignite, countered that 'two-timing' employers may go wrong.
“For me this will inevitably end badly for both the employee and the employers. The employee will not be able to deliver against their objectives, which will almost certainly end in a parting of ways.
She added: “If there are good managers, this should be picked up pretty quickly – and if not, in my experience, it always comes out in the end.”
The greater issue at play, Pease suggested, was a failure of correct remote working management.
“This is about employees feeling disengaged, demotivated and devalued,” she said.
“Managers need to ensure that employees are measured by output, regularly communicated with and listened to, and that trust is a two-way street.”
In August, 85% of workers reported that they were either not engaged or were disengaged from their job.
Pease added: “It is most definitely an issue of culture and loyalty. If workers are fully engaged, feel valued and are aligned with the purpose of the business, and you are paying them a fair wage, then they have no reason to look elsewhere.”
Hayley Lewis, of consultancy Halo Psychology, told HR magazine that it is important that HR takes the time to understand the reasons people take on multiple jobs – and not to confuse those who are at risk financially with those who want double salaries.
She said: “For many, particularly in parts of the public sector, it’s likely to be because they simply can’t afford to live on the wage they’re earning from their first job.
A 2017 survey of Royal College of Nursing members, for example, found that a quarter (25%) had taken second jobs to make ends meet.
She added: “In some cases, it could be a way of having a fall-back position because their organisation feels unsafe, perhaps from a toxic culture or from constant threat of job cuts.
“With the cost of living on the rise, it is important to understand what can be done to support employees.”