What is all the current buzz around moonlighting? Does it indicate poor business ethics and a lack of integrity, or is it an indicator of a change in mindset and the work environment? Let’s delve deep and try to understand this phenomenon from different perspectives to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of why it is an issue of concern.
Moonlighting is certainly not a new concept as certain professions have always had people engaged in multiple jobs to achieve various ends; be it to augment their income, expand their skills, or pursue their interests. The practice, however, has snow-balled in recent times, with several influential people taking action and voicing opinions from both sides of the fence.
The pandemic and the resultant work from home and hybrid work arrangements armed people with a lot more time on their hands. A large number of people chose to utilize that time to pursue other interests, which translated into moonlighting engagements. This should be viewed as a positive development for a growing nation where the working population is actively “pushing the envelope,” so to speak. However, it becomes a concern when we investigate the need for people to persist with two jobs, especially in a country that is already struggling with unemployment. As per the India Employability Report published by TeamLease, the nation is struggling with a significant 25.5% of its working-age population being unemployed. The report goes on to highlight that 16% of the unemployed have a graduate degree, while 14% of the unemployed youth are those with a postgraduate degree or above. These statistics raise questions concerning higher education and also the quality of work and skill utilization of the workforce.
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The annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) retail inflation rate in India in February 2022 touched 6.07%, according to the data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on Monday. This, perhaps, is one of the primary reasons behind the need for people to hold on to two jobs. According to an India Today article published on March 17th, 2022, “Indians (are) paying 198% more month-on-month for food & beverages.”
Another factor at play behind the growing trend of moonlighting is underemployment, which is explored extensively in the India Employability Report by TeamLease. There is a clear mismatch between education and skills on the one hand, and labor market demands on the other. When their primary employment fails to sufficiently utilize their skills and capitalize on the hidden potential, it is but natural for young people with a fire in their bellies to seek out other avenues. As a nation of young people with immense potential, we need to nurture this talent and provide opportunities that will satiate their innate hunger for growth and prosperity.
Employers need to be cognizant of the root causes behind the advent of moonlighting. Seeking to understand this phenomenon with empathy may lead employers to arrive at insights that would help address several core issues and create win-win solutions that are advantageous for all concerned: the employee, the employer, and the nation.
- Unemployment, inflation on the rise: Indian economy to brace itself for coming days | India Today | Mar 17, 2022
- India Employability Report | TeamLease
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