Whoever said that millennials are just lazy snowflakes must have been sleeping under a rock while they (the millennials) were working multiple jobs at a time.
In economics, the act of working multiple jobs is traditionally termed moonlighting and it has become quite a common practice nowadays, especially since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moonlighting refers to the concept where individuals hold more than one job at a time, often out of a sense of underemployment. Traditionally, the second job would often start after hours (of the typical nine to five schedule) when the sun has set and the moon sheds its light on your neighbourhood.
Those days of traditional working hours, however, are long gone. Companies hardly fixate on specific working hours and would rather just ask you to fulfil tasks within a given deadline.
The remainder of the traditional work hours were swept away by the pandemic when people were forced to work from home, and offices no longer had a way to track employees' whereabouts; whether they were at their stations or cubicles. Thus, employers had to resort to a task-based performance evaluation without incorporating physical presence and allowing much flexibility to employees.
This flexibility has allowed a new generation of employees to work multiple jobs at a time. Although the more traditional definition of moonlighting is more in line with that of under-employment, job-seekers these days can moonlight just for the fun of taking on new challenges.
Sakib Bin Rashid is a content creator; he works a full-time job as a Curriculum and Material Development Specialist at BRAC Youth Platform and as a consultant for 10 Minute School.
"I have been a part of 10 Minute School since university life. Then I went on to join BRAC. Although my job at BRAC was quite fulfilling, I couldn't leave 10MS since it was my baby. So, holding two jobs was not out of financial necessity, but out of a necessity of the heart," Sakib Bin Rashid said.
Why work two jobs at a time?
The pandemic hit the job market rather hard and since its onset, firms have been laying off workers left and right to minimise their costs in these times of crisis. Quite understandably, many young job-seekers have been looking for more opportunities outside the purviews of their full-time job.
Traditionally, moonlighters work more than one job because they feel their current job does not pay enough or is not sufficiently rewarding. Hence, they feel underemployed and seek other jobs.
You may ask why not just work overtime and avoid all the hassle?
Well, in most cases, overtime payments can simply be incommensurate compared to the other part-time jobs you take part in. More importantly, it can be quite mundane to work more of the same job after an eight hours-long shift.
A final year student of a reputed public university - Nusrat Nafisa Khan (pseudonym), works full-time at a prominent organisation while holding other part-time jobs as well as gigs.
When asked why she holds multiple jobs at the same time, Nafisa said, "As an entry-level employee, you do not get paid to your liking. So, to some extent, I took on the other jobs out of necessity. But, by working more, I also acquired more professional experience which will help me enrich my CV."
Some argue that it is better to work hard at two jobs with higher monetary and professional returns than overwork at one job with minimal gratification.
As one anonymous moon-lighter explained, "I applied for a job at many organisations and landed a full-time job in one of them. After a few months, I got a call from an employer for a part-time position with more flexible work hours. It was more money. So, I thought - why not?"
In such ways, moonlighting can be rather addictive, once you get the taste of it. However, it is about more than just the money.
As a matter of fact, it may have more to do with financial freedom and breaking down the shackles of the restrictive corporate culture. Speaking of restrictive corporate culture:
Should you inform HR?
In an ideal world, it should not matter whatsoever whether you are working one job, two jobs or multiple jobs as long as you can perform well at both of your jobs and meet the given deadlines for your tasks.
Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and our jobs are often dictated by inexplicable and sometimes, rather draconian HR rules.
On top of that, many private organisations strictly adhere to the "one job at one time" rule. Otherwise, how could they overwork you beyond your work hours enticing you with so-called "better reports" and "faster promotions" while paying you the same salary?
As one anonymous source mentioned, "Some employers in the Bangladeshi private sector try to squeeze the employees' jibonishokti (life force) to the extent that they cannot even think of any other side income. As if the eight-hour job is the bible-set life bubble that should solely have all your life's attention. This is what modern-day slavery looks like. I sold my eight hours, and the rest of my days are totally mine. I do what I need to survive. The offices shouldn't have a say in it."
And most often, you cannot even leave those jobs for the secondary ones because those jobs alone may not simply be enough.
That is not to say that all HRs or all employers are rigid in this manner. Some companies may not care whether you work one job or multiple ones as long as you serve them well. What you do in your own time is your business- as far as they are concerned.
"My HR at BRAC is quite lenient about my affiliation with 10 Minute School. I think they appreciate my experience with edtech and content making. They are very chilled about it," said Sakib Bin Rashid when asked about his experience with HR regarding his other gigs.
Not all HRs may be this lenient. Even if they are, there's a culture of fear regarding moonlighting, especially in the private sector, which makes it a very uncomfortable discussion to have with HR and most people just prefer to avoid that conversation at any cost.
One of our anonymous sources explained, "You always keep an arm's-length distance with HR or your employers. Doing other jobs is rather personal and you often do not know what they may think. And most of the time, you would rather not have that uncomfortable conversation and just try to get away with it."
Can I be over-employed?
Whether you can get away with being over-employed depends heavily on your employer. As I said earlier, if you think your current employer would be considerate enough to share your services with others, you may think about pursuing other jobs.
But there are more important questions you need to ask yourself.
Can you really perform well at both of your jobs? Can you meet the deadlines at both places simultaneously? Can you keep your moonlighting tendencies hidden from your full-time employer?
But most importantly, will you be able to handle the undue pressure on your mental health while juggling two (or more) very demanding jobs?