In recent decades, numerous work-specific trends have emerged for good, better, and bad, whether great resignation, quiet quitting over employment, or quiet firing. Is moonlighting the next one?
The unforeseen onset of the pandemic, sudden unemployment, and the ability to work remotely has enabled the Indian workforce to take up a second job or several other work assignments outside of usual business hours. Rising inflation, job uncertainty, and insufficient wages that fail to meet the cost of living are the main reasons driving these trends. Not to forget, the hustle culture or performative workaholism among youth, in particular, has instilled the thought that any time spent resting is being utilized by someone somewhere to make a living.
Some are signing up to become Uber drivers or Zomato delivery partners on weekends, while others are scouting the web to bag online advertising or affiliate marketing gigs to make the most of their free time. This faux-positive mentality that beautifies the “slog-it-out” reality is being donned like a badge of honor by the millennials who believe working seven days a week is key to career success. It is easy to recognize how and why moonlighting has become a mantra for the masses.
Decoding Facts and Figures
In the wake of unemployment stress, job losses, and pay cuts, the working category in India has turned to the gig economy. Conversely, gig economy platforms, too, are cashing in on the rising demand from the workforce seeking part-time jobs to boost their income, with numerous platforms reporting an increase in enrolments.
A 2020 study by Fairwork India stated that 11 gig platforms in India reported having approximately 30 lakh workers in the same year. In fact, a study conducted by the Michael and Susan Foundation and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2020 estimated the total gig economy jobs in India at 8 million. The same report predicted an increase in jobs to 90 million in the non-farm sector within 8 to 10 years, with $250 billion in transactions at 1.25% of India’s GDP.
Evidently, the pool of part-time workers, contractual employees, gig workers, freelancers, business owners, and self-employed workforce has permeated and will continue to broaden the world of work. The fact that geographies are no longer a talent restraint has brought a paradigm among the workforce and job seekers. The working professionals see it as an opportunity to gain an alternate income source, financial security & stability, and twice the chance to save for retirement; it isn’t that straightforward, especially if the person is involved in another job as a full-time employee.
Harmful or Helpful Work Culture?
The significant rise in this “grind” culture and the state of overworking to an extent where it becomes a lifestyle has more pitfalls than what appears at the surface. While success stories of people with multiple jobs exist, mass firings across multinationals like Wipro have risen, too, which has led to other companies issuing warnings to employees or increasing worker monitoring. Some companies empower employees to take on passion projects or side hustles, provided there is no threat to the security and integrity of the organizations involved. Still, the count of employers embracing this scenario is slim.
Apart from the downsides at the organizational level, overworking and utilizing every minute of the day for something productive can lead to severe burnout and adverse health effects. A study conducted in 2021 pointed out that at 29%, India ranks second highest regarding employees facing workplace burnout. Approximately one-third of employees have experienced burnout symptoms due to increased work-related stress. What is critical is the fact that extreme burnout causes one to develop a pessimistic approach toward work and experience a lack of motivation, resulting in a decline in work competence.
On the health front, though there is no link established between overworking and mental or physical health, such exhausting schedules can lead to disruptions in the body’s natural rhythms, thereby affecting sleep patterns, work efficiency, stress, depression, behavioral changes, type II diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cerebra-cardiovascular complications. This growing movement of overworking and its health risks makes a case for a conversation on the urgent need to embrace work-life balance. Ultimately, striking sufficient time for personal life and work is essential for one’s well-being, and it can result in leading a more fulfilling life.