Small tech companies open to moonlighting
By Ayushman Baruah & Salman SH
Startups and small tech companies are open to employees with second jobs or moonlighting as long as they are transparent about it and the nature of the work does not directly conflict with the terms of employment.
Happiest Minds Technologies, a mid-sized IT services company, believes that moonlighting should be viewed in light of the employment contract or association an individual has with the employer. “If the terms of the contract contain an exclusivity clause, moonlighting is obviously wrong. However, it is not a problem if the arrangement is not exclusive,” said Venkatraman Narayanan, MD and Chief Financial Officer , Happiest Minds.
Some IT companies also believe that companies can implement moonlighting policies to utilize remote talent while avoiding conflicts of interest. “Jobs should be converted into contracts and transparency should be maintained and the best use made of their time; this will increase in the coming days. It is better that companies and people adapt to it, and take advantage of it, than to denounce it. We will embrace it and build the new way of working,” said Abhishek Rungta, Founder and CEO of Indus Net Technologies.
Foodtech start-up Swiggy was the first company to announce an official policy allowing its employees to participate in concerts or projects outside of their regular company employment during working hours. However, side projects in startups are a common practice.
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In recent times, several startups launched by former executives of Flipkart, Swiggy, Zomato, Ola and Delhivery have been possible due to unofficial moonlighting policies that allowed employees to run side projects. Many of these startups were created by these executives in stealth mode, and they have also gone on to raise multi-million dollar seed rounds in the recent past.
For example, Rahul Jaimini, who originally co-founded Swiggy alongside Sriharsha Majety and Nandan Reddy in 2014, later joined as co-founder of edtech startup Pesto Tech in May 2020. Jaimini has also been an investor in Pesto since May 2019. To date, Pesto Tech has raised approximately $8 million in seed funding.
Similarly, Pankaj Chaddah, who co-founded Zomato with Deepinder Goyal in 2008, went on to launch health technology platform Mindhouse in November 2019. Mindhouse was later rebranded as Shyft in January and raised $6 million in seed funding. in November 2019.
Ankit Jain, senior executive at Ola Cabs, left the taxi aggregator in September 2020 to launch his own startup in stealth mode. Jain worked with Ola for over five years in multiple roles and was also elevated to co-founder of Ola Electric in April 2019.
Yogita Tulsiani, director and co-founder of technology recruitment provider iXceed Solutions, said moonlighting reflects the changing nature of white-collar jobs and could be a great way for individuals to earn extra income.
“If it is not contrary to the company, to the competition or to the individual employment contract and to the internal standards of the company, it is accepted. But once he breaks the code of conduct, they are responsible for taking strict action against them. Organizations just need to sincerely communicate more effectively to employees what is acceptable and what is not. Moonlighting cannot be eradicated, but it can be curbed with clear policies written around the same,” Tulsiani said.
Regulated companies need to be more careful about this. Ajit Yadwadkar, senior vice president of people strategy at lending startup LoanTap, pointed out that they have yet to come to a conclusion on moonlighting as it is an RBI-regulated entity. . “However, moonlighting should fundamentally benefit from attracting potential talent to institutions with larger tech ecosystems, especially in unregulated and consumer-oriented segments,” Yadwadkar said.
Raj Tanwar, chief strategy officer and head of human resources at employee engagement and rewards platform Advantage Club, said their company does not have a call-in policy on moonlighting, but that Nor did she prevent her employees from pursuing their “passion and hobby.” Advantage Club, however, does not allow second employment as a policy.
Co-living startup Isthara believes in setting clear policies on moonlighting. “We believe that moonlighting will only be a more acceptable standard of work if it is defined more clearly from an ethical point of view. As policing a moonlight policy can be difficult, it is important that employees are transparent with their employers about pursuing more than one job at a time… We have a strict policy prohibiting employees from working in business ventures that are in the same job as ours because it leads to a conflict of interest,” said Gilbert James, co-founder and CEO of Isthara.
Corporate health insurance startup Nova Benefits believes in trying new options and exploring different paths to achieve career agility. “We strongly support this culture and many of our employees are currently pursuing their passions and interests outside of work,” said Saransh Garg, co-founder and CEO of Nova Benefits.