“Overemployed” … Trend or Time Theft?

There is a fast-growing trend in the workforce where employees are working two or more full-time remote jobs without letting anyone find out. And no, they aren’t working 80+ hours a week, they are splitting their 40 hours amongst multiple jobs. This movement has been coined the term, “Overemployment” and it has sparked some major controversy.  

Overemployment might seem surprising that amid the so-called ‘great resignation’ people would be actively seeking out more work. But secretly working two remote jobs at once was always happening, specifically in the tech sector. It was the recent and drastic shift to remote work that accelerated the trend, and made it more friendly to industries outside of tech. There is even a website called Overemployed created in 2021 to give individuals the resources and tips to be successful with their overemployment.  

Wall Street Journal reported on this remote-work trend saying, “White-collar workers, in industries from tech to banking to insurance, say they have found a way to double their pay. They work two full-time remote jobs, but like Fight Club, the rules for these folks are “don’t tell anyone” and “don’t do too much work, either.” But this growing trend has become a topic of controversy as opinions are split, so let’s unpack both sides… 

Those who are for it: 

Members of the overemployed community have several reasons to justify their actions. The main reason being the financial gain and assurance. More and more Americans are feeling the need to increase their income as the cost-of-living creeps higher and higher. In addition to the past year of record-high inflation, the cost of education, housing, and healthcare have been on the rise for decades. Leaving many people to believe in this economy, you cannot get by with one income.  

Only 19% of Americans think they earn enough money. Employees are frustrated with their wages, while the gap between productivity and compensation continues to dramatically increase. Since 1979, employee productivity has risen by 61.8%, while compensation has only increased by 17.2%. That means productivity has grown 3.5 times more than pay. Employees are much more productive today than they were 40 years ago. Yet, they are not paid accordingly. The lack of adequate compensation on top of the record-high inflation has left people searching for new ways to increase their income.  

The other main justification behind the overemployed movement is the lack of trust and respect in the workplace. Although working two jobs at the same time is a byproduct of remote work, it also stems from a lack of workplace trust, as employees are seeking to build work resilience. Many people feel as though their employers do not actually care about them, but only about the bottom line. As an anonymous overemployed member said, “Your boss will fire you without warning and replace you in a heartbeat. We are just finally reciprocating how they have always treated us. We are making money our top priority, like they always have.” Employees feel as though they are taking power back into their own hands and reciprocating the lack of respect and loyalty they receive from their employers.  

But it is not just the employees who support it, there are also CEOs who have spoken out about their experience with employees secretly working other jobs. Brandon Adcock, the CEO of the Nugenix, told Insider that when he learned of a salesperson who was hiding another full-time job, rather than issuing a punishment, he worked with the employee to provide a more flexible schedule. Adcock explains how this employee was performing well and getting all their work done and that kind of worker is an asset. The belief that if the work gets done, it doesn’t matter how you get there.  

Those who are against it: 

Although many people justify overemployment, there is another half that will not get behind it. One CEO wrote “To me, this isn’t some fun new social trend. It’s a new form of theft and deception, and not something in which an ethical, honest person would participate.” Which brings up the ethical issue of overemployment. Although it may be “legal”, it doesn’t make it right. Most organizations have company policies, many of which focus on integrity, and hiding another full-time job from your employer goes against that. Deception and mistrust are not something wanted in the workplace, yet overemployment encourages it.  

But how is this legal? Many CEOs claim that this is a form of time theft as most employers are paying hourly. Claiming money for 40 hours of work when 20 of those hours were spent on another company is stealing from your employer. As CEO, Davis Bell wrote, “I guess some people feel that stealing from companies is less wrong than stealing from individuals, when in reality, companies are owned by people!” If stealing from a home or store is illegal, then many argue that so should stealing from your employer. 

Another big opposition to overemployment is that individuals who have multiple jobs are taking away job opportunities from people who need them. Although this is an emotional argument, as there are no clear statistics on this claim, many people believe overemployment is selfish and wrong. Especially because many people look for a second job that is a lower skill level than their current job. This means more junior, entry level roles are being taken by people who do not actually need them, leaving less openings for real junior level candidates who rely off those entry level positions to start their career.  

Pick a side or meet in the middle? 

Whether you are for or against overemployment we can all agree that the workforce is in need of some major changes. This article is just a red flag that this work system is far from perfect. As our society continues to shift into a more remote workplace it will be interesting to see what comes out of this movement. But we are currently at a crossroads. Employees demand more freedom, trust, and recognition. Employers want loyalty, productivity, and control. Will we further the divide, or can we meet in the middle?