Love Your Employees? Then Let Them Moonlight.

They’ll be happier. And that can mean good things for your company.

Published on Sep. 18, 2023
Love Your Employees? Then Let Them Moonlight.
Image: Shutterstock / Built In
Brand Studio Logo

Employers have a ton of misconceptions when it comes to moonlighting. They fear their employees will be tired, unavailable and not meet the expectations of their day jobs. 

5 Reasons to Consider a Side Hustle

  1. Gain financial freedom. 
  2. Work on your passion.
  3. Expand your network and build your portfolio.
  4. Grow your confidence and tap into your creativity.
  5. Be your own boss and experience entrepreneurship.

These are all myths. Moonlighting can increase employee satisfaction and help a company remain competitive because employees get new ideas, feel more productive and more energized and yes, make more money when they moonlight. All these things don’t hurt employers. They help them.

I know this from my own experience. I balanced a side hustle for a decade while working for corporate America. 

More from Brennan Nevada Johnson5 Signs It’s Time to End a Business Relationship


What Is Moonlighting?

Moonlighting is when an employee works more than one job at a time to meet their financial obligations. It can be full time or part time and can take many forms, for instance freelancing or working a second job. 

Moonlighting is on the rise, encompassing 4.8 percent of the workforce in 2022, up from 4.5 percent in 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That’s partly due to remote work and salaries and wages not matching the rise in inflation. Employees are obviously feeling overwhelmed and having to adapt to these unfortunate circumstances. 

Instead of embracing this trend, workplaces have created policies that prevent and limit moonlighting from happening. Long term, this will most likely backfire and harm the business. 

Don’t let that happen to your business. Here are five reasons why employers should tolerate, if not outright encourage, moonlighting to enhance performance, productivity, and importantly retain top talent. 


Moonlighting Expands Professional Networks

I always say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And this couldn’t be more true for moonlighting — it expands a professional network instantly. 

Working in a variety of industries and with different companies allows employees to meet and build new relationships and connections that can help employees’ career growth and also provide referrals in the future. Employers should appreciate and value these new contacts, which can potentially be leveraged for an employee’s benefit. New connections wouldn’t be possible without moonlighting. 

This is exactly what I did while working for PR agencies and in-house. As a result, I became more versatile and connected at the jobs I was employed at. And now most of my clients work in many different tech sectors and come from referrals. Because I juggled a day job and side hustle for so long, I now work with some of the most impactful tech companies and startups under my own brand.


Moonlighting Boosts Productivity and Motivation

I’ve held a lot of corporate jobs and if I’m being honest, I was uninspired and bored the majority of the time. I’ve always been a driven person, so this new feeling didn’t sit well with me and had to change. 

I made sure that very early in my career I would multitask and start freelancing and taking on consistent projects, which eventually led to consulting full time in tandem with corporate jobs. 

My side hustle drove my ambition and led me to want more for myself professionally. This newfound excitement led to increased productivity and feeling more motivated to produce positive results at my job that I wasn’t that fulfilled with in the first place. I had a better outlook and developed a new attitude that I brought to each and every one of the companies that hired me. 

Undoubtedly, your moonlighting employees will feel the same way.  


Moonlighting Brings In Extra Cash

While working for corporate jobs in New York City, I fought hard for a salary that matched the cost of living and what I brought to the table professionally. I almost never got the match I deserved, and despite exceeding my boss’s expectations, I hardly ever got a raise or a bonus. 

I get it. Employees cost money — they’re the biggest expense a company has. I also think that employers have to wake up and pay people what they are worth. In the meantime, moonlighting can help your employees bring in the extra cash they need, whether it’s to pay rent, pay the bills or just have some fun. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

For me personally, money coupled with a new passion helped me earn a higher income than I probably ever would have working just in corporate America. 


Moonlighting Builds Skills

I always felt capped and stagnant working for corporate America. Despite being employed at a variety of different companies, there were always so many hoops I had to jump through or gatekeepers blocking every idea that it was nearly impossible to get anything to the finish line. 

That made me realize that I wasn’t learning from my managers or peers. I always want to make sure that I could elevate and get better, and having my talents stifled was something that I couldn’t accept or afford to occur. When I started to consult and freelance I developed new skills that I would never have gotten working full time with just one employer. I got to absorb so much valuable information, and I finally had the opportunity to hone my strengths and do campaigns and PR storytelling in ways that never were allowed at low-energy companies I worked for. 

More on MoonlightingMoonlighting Is Back. AI Could Change That.


Moonlighting Helps Employees Reach Their Dreams

It was during my first job that I knew I never wanted to climb the corporate ladder, and that I needed to find ways that would ultimately get me to own my company and thrive. 

Throughout my career I experienced a few colleagues who supported my side hustle and long-term goals of entrepreneurship.  They believed in me and admired my work ethic, which made for better collaboration at our jobs. On the other hand I had negative reactions from colleagues, which resulted in me job hopping until I could find the right fit. 

Nothing lasts forever, especially corporate jobs. They should be treated and viewed as stepping stones. There’s a lot to be said about employers who let their employees chase their dreams. Maybe your best coder has a dream to build the next big app and can do so building skills as they moonlight. 

It’s confusing and unrealistic for employers to demand that they are the only priority in an employee’s life plans, when employees definitely have lives outside of work.

When you allow for moonlighting, you’re letting your employees chase their dreams, not just help build yours.

Hiring Now
General Motors
Automotive • Big Data • Information Technology • Robotics • Software • Transportation • Manufacturing