HCL Veteran Reveals Reasons For Moonlighting: Less Salary, Dissatisfaction & More
Former CEO of HCLTech and founder and chairman of the Sampark Foundation, Vineet Nayar, said the key reasons driving the moonlighting is the low compensation pay and a lack of opportunities for innovation. He said that moonlighting is inevitable, despite the fact that the Indian IT service companies are pouring in the efforts to curb the practice.
Impossible to Tackle Moonlighting : Former HCLTech CEO
He explained that with the growing culture of entrepreneurship and start-ups in India, it is impossible to tackle moonlighting because even if you see most of the startups were started as side hustles of the founders while they worked full-time for established organisations.
The term, moonlighting, which has recently gained a lot of traction is nothing but the act of working secretly at a second job while working full-time at a company.
It is a contemporary issue and has risen after the prevalence of WFH facilitated by the pandemic.
In the last two years, the pandemic has made it possible for IT workers to work from home. As a result, IT workers have started doing freelance and gig work on the side, which in some cases has put client data at risk.
Nayar said that “When internet came to our life, we resisted big time thinking that our data will be stolen. But it was unstoppable — it came to our desktops, mobile phones and even watches. And since people couldn’t do anything about it so they learned to use it rather than being abused by it. Moonlighting too is an unstoppable event. You can resist it but you can’t stop it. You need to understand the reasons behind it”.
He said that though moonlighting should be well-regulated to protect client confidentiality, but it can’t be stopped.
Key Drivers of Moonlighting
As per the Former CEO, there are 3 key reasons why people moonlight:
- Widening pay gap
- Lack of purpose and innovation
- Growing start-up economy.
Calling the salary of an IT engineer with 0–2 years of experience as a pittance, he said that the same remains stagnant with only up to 8 percent increase year-on-year. Also, there is a desire in the young engineers to earn well and make ends meet.
He said that “For a salary of Rs. 30,000-35,000 where will you stay and what will you do? Especially when employees from tier-II cities are coming to tier-I cities to work, managing expenses gets more difficult. They end up picking gigs outside their jobs to make ends meet, whether it is driving Uber cabs or doing something else. Unless you increase your salaries dramatically which IT companies can’t due to margin pressures, there will be a dire need for this employee to find economic needs to meet his or her ends.”
According to an earlier report by Moneycontrol, while the median annual pay of CEOs zoomed 835 percent from FY12 to FY22, the median salary package of freshers grew just 45 percent in the same period. Over the last decade, the median fresher salary rose from Rs 2.45 lakh in FY12 to Rs 3.55 lakh in FY22.
Another factor that is driving the phenomenon, is the increasing disengagement of employees in the revenue and profit-driven companies, as these lack the culture of purpose as they are not necessarily building new products.
Nayar said that “The amount of disenchantment with these organisations is at its peak. Most of the surveys are saying that the employees are completely disengaged. Most of these companies are running behind profits and revenue growth, and not behind purpose. Therefore the employees are not aligned and end up becoming use and throw commodities and nobody is investing in them”.
Speaking about the gig economy of start-ups, he said that “The third driver is the gig economy of start-ups. Until last year, if you look at all the major companies in the Indian IT sector and track the history till last year. Everybody was happy to say how they started their companies and all of them at that point were employed with other companies. It remained a side hustle until it became a successful company”.
“Was that not moonlighting? Today also you are on boards of various companies, doing multiple things, is that not moonlighting? Moonlighting already exists,” Nayar questioned.