In a previous insight article published on AreteCoach.io, “Are Your Remote Workers Working Two Full-Time Jobs, Reducing Your Efforts, and Doubling Their Pay?,” we examine the growing trend of dual employment. In research, we found one creative employee who had accepted 10 contract positions for full-time software developer, who was working an average of 3 hours per week per contract, banking over $1.5 million in compensation. While this developer knew he’d likely be terminated by each company within 4-5 months for non-performance, he expected there to be other companies willing to hire him thereafter because of his skills.
There is a website that promotes such unethical behavior for employees called overemployment.com. They celebrate workers who cheat their employers by accepting multiple full-time gigs and sharing cheat tips with each other. Unfortunately, this trend has been increasing in popularity and must be addressed by businesses and business leaders to mitigate financial losses accumulated by these dually employed employees.
In this Insight article, we examine the strategies these rogue workers use to maintain two or more full-time positions alongside their reasons for strategic manipulation. In closing, we identify several methods employers can use to guard themselves against time theft.
“The average person puts only 25% of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50% of their capacity, and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100%.” - Andrew Carnegie
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” - Doug Conant
Loss of mindshare and productivity
Remote employees who choose to take on two or more full-time jobs are doing so by taking advantage of the flexibility that remote employment offers. For example, employees who have a flexible schedule and are not monitored for productivity can scrape by if they only work 3 to 4 hours each day. The other hours left in their workday are then applied to their second “full-time” job. In this case, neither employer is getting the full 40 hours of worth of mindshare or productivity the employee is being paid for.
Because of the threat to productivity and innovation that dual-employed employees pose to organizations, it is important to monitor the productivity of remote employees. There are many types of virtual monitoring programs that are available to employers and organizations worldwide, as detailed in a recent Insight article entitled, “Monitoring the Remote Employee: Oversight or an Overstep?” on AreteCoach.io.
Employee monitoring software
Studies show that by July of 2021, 78% of employers were using monitoring software for their remote employees (ExpressVPN, 2021). While this remains a controversial topic in the workplace, it can serve as a front-line defense against the loss of productivity due to dually-employed employees.
One of the benefits behind employee productivity monitoring software is the evidence of dual employment or reduced productivity these programs can provide. Capterra, a major app reviewing corporation, shares that these programs are beneficial because “If you suspect an employee is doing something illegal or against company policy, employee monitoring software can provide hard evidence to support your claim. It can also protect you during litigation.” There are many different programs available for productivity monitoring. The following programs are highly rated and commonly used for employee monitoring:
Teramind: Teramind is a “comprehensive tracking” program that lets employers track screen recordings, see live views of employee PCs, track emails, monitor keystrokes, and even Zoom meetings. Teramind was chosen as the best overall employee monitoring software for 2022 by PC Magazine (Sevilla, 2021). Teramind was also selected as #8 out of the 10 best software monitoring programs of 2022 by People Managing People (Reitsma, 2022).
Veriato Cerebral: While also providing “employee tracking and employee engagement features,” Veriato Cerebral uses artificial intelligence to “mitigate potential insider” security threats. This program can block organizational data from being shared with external sources, protecting employers’ information and innovation from outside competitors. It has also received an Editors’ Choice award from PC Magazine (Sevilla, 2020). They are also on PC Magazine’s list of Best Employee Monitoring Software for 2022, and noted as being the “best for complex threat detection.” (Sevilla, 2021).
ActivTrak: Listed as the “best for monitoring, activity tracking, scoring” on PC Magazine’s Best Employee Monitoring Software for 2022, ActivTrak offers users “attractive pricing and an efficient user interface.” ActivTrack was also listed as the #1 employee monitoring software in 2022 by People Managing People (Reitsma, 2022). This program can track productivity on a per-project basis, however, “fine tuning” is needed to “define user and group productivity metrics” and there are no keystroke logs (Sevilla, 2021).
Hubstaff: Capterra rates Hubstaff with a 4.6 out of 5 stars and over 1,100 reviews. This program allows business leaders to “fight inefficiency” by using their “streamlined time tracking from Hubstaff.” Hubstaff also includes multi-app integration, GPS monitoring, and roadblock identification. Capterra identifies this app as an “emerging favorite” for attendance tracking software as well as time and expense software (Capterra, n.d.). Hubstaff has also been noted as the best software for “time tracking with monitoring” for 2022 employee monitoring software programs (Sevilla, 2021). Furthermore, Hubstaff is #10 on People Managing People’s top 10 employee monitoring software programs for 2022 (Reitsma, 2022).
WorkTime: “WorkTime is an employee, computer and internet monitoring software” that both “monitors productivity and helps boosting it” (Capterra n.d.). This application explicitly states that they do not support “invasive monitoring.” Because of this policy, they do not offer information such as screenshots, keystrokes, chats, emails, document content recording, and strives to be HIPAA compliant (Worktime, n.d.). Despite not having these productivity measures, WorkTime is highly rated by Capterra with 4.2 out of 5 stars with 71 reviews.
These are only a few of the many software programs available for monitoring employees. Despite the varying programs, they all have one central purpose: to monitor productivity. Some programs offer features such as video monitoring, screen monitoring, and keystroke information while others monitor the rate of activity, the length and number of breaks, and the types of websites visited by employees.
Regardless of the program chosen, when employers start monitoring their employees’ productivity, dually-employed remote employees get nervous. Employees are no longer able to scrape by with only 3 to 4 hours or less of work a day when their employers are aware of their lack of productivity and activity. Employees are also no longer able to work both jobs on one computer due to the risk of surveillance software notifying their employers of emails and data external to their organization.
When deciding whether or not to implement employee monitoring software, employers must consider the legal implications of such software. The Society of Human Resource Management states that “workplace monitoring is subject to a variety of federal and state laws” and that “monitoring technology for remote workers face the same legal guidelines as when using such technology in the workplace” (Zielinski, 2020). Although laws are the same for monitoring in the workplace as they are in the remote workplace, special considerations must be made for the remote employee. For example, many employees do not have access to a private workspace which means that if a company is monitoring employees with live web-cam recordings, they may be recording family members and visitors in the background. This can be dangerous as permission to record individuals filmed in the background will not have been received.
Furthermore, if productivity monitoring is not customized to account for specific employees with disabilities, discrimination can unintentionally take place. It is important for employers to consider these challenges and consult legal professionals when deciding how to implement monitoring software (Jeske, 2021).
Drawbacks to employee monitoring
Virtual monitoring is not the ultimate solution to all of the problems associated with remote employees (Zielinski, 2020). Many employees have found ways to bypass virtual monitoring with additional software and programs. Some of these tactics include automating their mouse movement, using multiple windows to confuse tracking systems, using a second monitor, timing the screenshots taken by the program, manipulating the programming with remote access, and even tampering with the program’s coding (Traqq, 2020). Dual employees can use these tactics to not only appear to be productive but get work for their second job done. Ultimately, monitoring software offers additional protection against investing in employees that have two or more full-time jobs, but for the determined employee, monitoring systems can be tricked.
Remote employee monitoring software offers several benefits, but management strategies can also help businesses weed out employees with two full-time jobs. The following management strategies are prevention-based methods that address key excuses employees give for taking on two full-time jobs from the aforementioned dual employment community called Overemployed.
Create a culture of career development
Employees who feel like they are at a standstill in their career and have limited growth opportunities within an organization are less likely to remain loyal to that organization and thus more likely to take on multiple remote full-time jobs.
In 2018, surveys showed that the majority of employees looking for a new career were doing so because they were “bored” and needed a “new challenge” (Korn Ferry). In 2017, only 29% of surveyed employees were “very satisfied” with the career development opportunities in their organizations (SHRM, 2017).
When employees feel like they have no room for development, they can more readily adopt the stance of “average” and mediocre performance that dual employment demands. To combat this, employers can focus on creating a corporate culture that emphasizes internal hiring and career development. Employers can do this by incentivizing excellence and creating methods of upward development within their organization. Employees with these opportunities are more likely to invest in their careers as well as increase productivity and work quality. Furthermore, employees who have already adopted the mediocre performance demanded by dual employment will become apparent as they continually miss opportunities for upward development and the incentives created to encourage excellence.
One of the first articles published on Overemployed.com, an online community for those with two or more fully remote online jobs, is titled “You’re Gonna Get Laid Off – Ask For A Severance Instead With Two Jobs.” This title should alert employers to the lack of trust that employees have within their organizations. Nearly half of American employees experience “layoff anxiety” and 40% have actually experienced being laid off or terminated (CareerArc, 2019).
Employees who view their career within an organization as susceptible to termination have no incentive to remain loyal to an organization. These employees are potentially driven by fear to take on secondary full-time jobs to reduce the effect of a potential layoff. Establishing a trusting relationship between employers and employees can help negate the fear of layoffs and terminations. Having a clear method of communication between employees and employers can contribute to the development of trust. Furthermore, having clearly communicated policies for layoffs and confronting layoff rumors before they spread can help employees trust in their employers more; decreasing the fear-based compulsion to take on two full-time jobs remotely.
“Culture is what motivates and retains talented employees.” - Betty Thompson
Continually examine productivity levels
One of the primary ways that employees can balance two full-time jobs is the acceptance of “average” or minimally accepted performance. Scraping by and meeting only the mandatory minimum for employment is key to the maintenance of two full-time jobs. Employers who encourage excellence and monitor the productivity levels of their employees are more likely to notice decreased levels of production and discourage “average” or bare minimum performance.
When the bare minimum of production is communicated to employees, it should be made clear that they are expected to generally exceed these productivity levels. If a continued drop in productivity is noticed by employers, a discussion with the employee in question can be started. This discussion might reveal that an employee does have two full-time jobs or is experiencing other challenges that can affect their work performance. It can also encourage the employee to engage with their job more consistently and without the distraction of a second, third, or even fourth full-time job.
Studies show that when organizations recognize “small wins and efforts at work” there is an 83% increase in employee engagement (O.C Tanner, n.d.). Employees who feel that their efforts are recognized and rewarded are more likely to pursue excellence in one full-time job than mediocrity in two full-time jobs.
Encouraging high-quality performance and rewarding excellence encourages employees to pursue excellence in their careers. What is rewarded is ultimately reinforced or encouraged. When there is a corporate standard of excellence, it is increasingly difficult for employees with two jobs to continue as mediocre performers. This has a three-fold effect of increasing productivity, increasing employee engagement, and decreasing the likelihood of unknowingly fostering dually-employed employees.
“Create the kind of workplace and company culture that will attract great talent. If you hire brilliant people, they will make work feel more like play.” - Richard Branson
Employers should examine what their required levels of productivity are. How is management monitoring productivity levels and the quality of employees’ work? In what ways can employees maintain poor or mediocre performance levels and go unnoticed? These are questions that employers must consider when strengthening their employment model against dually-employed employees. Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP for People Operations, states that it is important to “set a high bar for quality... hire only people who are better than you. Do not compromise, ever” (Kalibrr, 2016). If employers apply this method of thinking to their analysis of productivity levels and workplace performance they are more likely to intentionally support those employees who are excelling in their work and provide additional encouragement to those who are not.
“Make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, has a meaningful impact, and is contributing to the good of society.” - Larry Page
When hiring new employees, it is important to analyze not only their employment history and education but also their proof of character. Hiring agencies and managers should know how to detect those with compromised integrity and honesty. This can be done by vetting information provided on resumes through public social media accounts and casual conversations during interviews. Employees with integrity and honesty are less likely to mislead and lie to employers by claiming that they are putting in 40 hours worth of work when they are really only working part-time and balancing another full-time job.
Edit employment contracts
Another way to protect your business from the negative effects of dual employment is by specifically prohibiting dual employment in employee contracts. Doing so communicates to employees that time theft and dishonesty are not only prohibited but also not a part of your organization’s culture.
Because different countries, states, and regions have differences in the legal regulations around hiring/firing legislation, it is important to consider your local regulations and consult with your legal associates before making changes to your employment contracts. Regardless, according to RocketLawer, “Employers may legally limit the rights of their employees to work a second job (often called moonlighting), especially if that work substantially interferes or competes with the duties of their primary job…Most states allow employers to institute a more general ban on moonlighting as part of company policy. In such situations, working a second job at all is against company policy and provides just cause to fire the employee even if it does not affect their job performance or your business interests.”
They summarize their findings by stating, “if an employee's second job affects their work for you or risks your business interests, you may be able to legally discipline or fire them. The laws on off-duty conduct are not the same in every state, particularly for moonlighting” (RocketLawer, n.d). The Society of Human Resource Management recommends that employers “seek the advice of legal counsel” when creating a policy that addresses dual employment. They also state that “companies should have a policy on intellectual property” and data protection that is consistent and well-documented (Grensing-Pophal, 2021).
The Main Takeaway
Employers can reduce the amount of time, money, and resources, wasted by by overemployed employees by raising awareness of the unethical nature of such dual employment and by implementing software and management strategies that identify low rates of productivity and prevent employees from choosing the overemployed path.
Employees who adopt the dual employment or overemployed method depend on scraping by to avoid getting fired. Employee monitoring software can identify these individuals and encourage management to inspect further before wasting additional funds and resources on them.
Employers can also discourage employees from taking on additional full-time jobs in secrecy by offering opportunities for career development, establishing trust, examining productivity levels, rewarding excellence, refusing mediocrity, and hiring employees with integrity.
By increasing accountability and raising the difficulty of simply scraping by in remote employment and creating a workplace that inspires employees to achieve their full potential, employers can reduce the loss of productivity and mindshare associated with overemployed employees.
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