IT industry veteran Mohandas Pai called moonlighting a fact of life as the technology industry has become global and the work itself can be broken up into chunks and performed, taking a counter view to the growing debate around the topic of taking up side-gigs while being employed full-time with an organisation which has divided the IT industry.
“Many gig worker platforms have come up. Tech work has been broken up into bits where people can spend 2-3 hours and make it and give it. Technology has enabled the gig worker. So, people will moonlight," the former Infosys director and Aarin Capital Chairman told Business Today.
"If I want some money, I’ll work on a Saturday: they cannot stop me from doing that. The big thing today is: Tech enabling people to work globally and getting paid much better for smaller pieces of work. That’s what creating this in the technology industry.”
Pai's comments come in the wake of IT major Wipro chairman Rishad Premji revealing on Wednesday that his company had laid off 300 people found to be moonlighting with competitors.
"The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors and we have actually discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that," he said at an event.
He had sparked off the moonlighting debate when he tweeted about the practice being “cheating – plain and simple” about a month ago. As the debate grows louder, IT industry experts concur that it is hard to quantify the extent of practice, although it certainly spiked during the pandemic-induced ‘Work From Home’ period.
While employees find it a way to make some extra money or pick up extra skills, experts point out that it is largely a grey area given what constitutes moonlighting itself varies depending on whom you ask. Some may see any income-generating task that takes attention away from the core job itself as moonlighting, while others may look at only working for a competitor as moonlighting.
Premji, for instance, clarified that the definition of moonlighting was “having a second job secretively”. Vouching for transparency, he had said individuals in an organisation can have candid conversations with the organisation about wanting to play in a band at night or taking up a project over the weekend and see if that works for the organisation or not.
Most experts say the point of contention may arise from the division of time, attention or resources. But the deepest concern surrounding the trend is more about misuse of confidential data rather than the monetary impact.
This comes at a time when terms like the “Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” have entered the work lexicon. IT companies, the largest employer of the white-collar workforce in the country with some 4.5-million software employees, also are battling record-high 20%-plus attrition.
Wipro itself, for instance, had announced it would promote freshers on a quarterly basis, offer them clear five-year career paths and training as full-stack engineers before joining to make itself more attractive to new talent. Wipro CEO Thierry Delaporte had said after the results announcement in April that that the company had decided to increase the frequency of promotion cycles for 70 per cent of colleagues in junior bands to a quarterly basis. “The quarterly promotions have been effective this month, and also salary increases for those eligible in September 2022,” he said recently.
Bengaluru-based Wipro’s twelve-month attrition fell from 23.8 per cent at the end of March 31, 2022, to 23.3 per cent as of June 30, 2022. The firm’s attrition rate is lower than peer Infosys’ 28.4%, but higher than TCS’ 19.7% as of June 30, 2022. The firm had said it planned to double fresher intake during 2022-23, just like it did in the previous financial year. It had planned to hire 38,000 freshers, compared to the 19,000 last year.
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