The pros and cons of overemployment

January 23, 2023

The pros and cons of overemployment

Overemployment is a workplace trend that involves people getting multiple jobs. While people have always occasionally worked two part-time jobs or a part-time job and a full-time job, overemployment is more extreme. It involves two or more full-time jobs. Here's some more information about overemployment, why it's appealing, and its potential drawbacks for employers and employees.

What is overemployment?

The overemployment trend comes from a combination of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the quiet quitting trend, and inflation. As more people started working remotely during the pandemic, they realized they could do their work more quickly or even take care of two jobs at once. They didn't need to spend time commuting, packing a lunch, or getting dressed for work. They also didn't have to attend meetings or socialize with coworkers. However, many workers felt underappreciated during the pandemic. They often received fewer raises, and communication with supervisors and coworkers was reduced.

Inflation has also lowered the buying power of people's salaries, making work seem less rewarding. Many Americans are looking for additional work to combat inflation, and inflation in the United States is at nearly a 40-year high.

According to a survey from Gallup, at least half of the people working in the United States are now quiet quitters. A quiet quitter meets job requirements, follows rules, and fulfills their duties, but they don't make any extra effort. They don't work overtime or volunteer for any tasks that aren't part of their job description. After saving time and avoiding stress by working remotely and quiet quitting, many people decided to get more than one remote or partially remote job.

”The overemployment trend comes from a combination of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the quiet quitting trend, and inflation. As more people started working remotely during the pandemic, they realized they could do their work more quickly or even take care of two jobs at once.”

Why overemployment is appealing to workers

Many overemployed people don't work more than 40 hours per week, the conventional amount of time for one full-time job. They can finish tasks faster by avoiding commuting and many of the common distractions of working in an office, like gossip or disagreements between coworkers. People who are overemployed in some fields work two or more jobs from home at the same time, on different computers.

With overemployment, workers can increase their pay without sacrificing their free time. They can also save twice as much for retirement and get overlapping medical benefits, reducing the amount they need to contribute for deductibles and copays. Many overemployed people use new types of software to automate many tasks, making fulfilling the requirements of both employers easier. Being overemployed can also provide more financial security. Someone who gets fired from one job probably won't need to worry much if they still have another position.

The potential drawbacks of overemployment

Employees who decide to be overemployed and business owners who hire people with more than one job could experience a variety of challenges, including:

A bigger workload

Someone who plans their schedule carefully and automates many tasks can benefit from overemployment. However, having more than one full-time job can be difficult, and people may not be able to put as much effort into doing both jobs as they previously did for just one job. People need some experience to do two jobs in the amount of time that others take to do one job. Individuals in entry-level positions or jobs that require showing up to work every day, like retail salespeople, could have many problems with managing the workload that being overemployed requires.

Difficulty maintaining a good reputation or excelling at work

Overemployment can also make excelling at a job or getting a promotion more difficult. Managers could think that overemployed people are quiet quitting because they seem distracted or less interested in work tasks than other employees. Many employers view overemployment as unethical, and this practice may be against company policies or employment contracts. People who work in specialized fields could end up completing tasks for two competitors, creating a serious conflict of interest. Since overemployed people have twice the workload of individuals with one job, they may take longer to respond to emails or other communications.

Possibly violating company policies or leading to security concerns

Some employers require confidentiality agreements or non-compete agreements, and being overemployed could lead to violations. Overemployment can create security concerns as well. If a person works two jobs at home on the same computer, then depending on the monitoring software used, each employer could see work done for the other business.

Because of all the potential drawbacks of having an overemployed person as an employee, many people don't tell their employers if they have another job. This can make people seem more like team players dedicated to a business in the short term, but it could eventually get them fired if an employer finds out about a second job and decides that they were being deceptive.

Minimizing overemployment risks

People can minimize the risks of overemployment by applying for positions looking for independent contractors, not employees. An independent contractor can work for multiple clients, and these professionals often operate their own businesses. However, payroll tax laws in the United States mean that independent contractors could have large tax bills. With employees, the employer pays for part of these taxes.

It's also a good idea for applicants to let potential employers know if they have more than one job. That way, they can avoid being accused of dishonesty. Businesses can avoid problems with overemployed workers by offering competitive salaries and benefits and encouraging workers to be content with one job. Companies can also look for signs of deception and reprimand or fire people who work more than one job without letting their employers know. 

Overemployed people often work using VPNs to hide their locations, and they may avoid talking about work or mentioning a new job on social media. They could also be late to meetings often or turn in projects late. The quality of an employee's work might drop if they get a second job, or they could start calling in sick more often. 

You can speak to the person and ask them what's going on directly, or you can increase supervision for them and ask for explanations for any late or low-quality work. If the employee delivers good work and they don't exhibit any of these problems, you may want to let them continue their overemployment. 

Overemployment can help people increase their earnings, but it comes with many risks. As remote work opportunities increase and make overemployment more feasible, being aware of the potential pitfalls of overemployment and its warning signs is becoming more important for businesses.

Related reading: More information about overemployment and related topics

It's a good idea to avoid using a company laptop for other tasks, like a second job or personal emails. 

With the right productivity monitoring software and other technologies, you can easily find out if an employee is overemployed. You can also make sure that they contribute plenty of effort and fulfill all job requirements. 

You can help work-at-home employees feel more appreciated by offering a variety of benefits and rewards. 

Remote and hybrid work is becoming more and more popular, and job postings for remote positions can receive several times more applicants than a comparable in-person job. 

By paying a competitive wage, your company can keep people from deciding to become overemployed to earn more.

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