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Glossary: HR & Recruiting Definitions

What is overemployment?

Overemployed employees take advantage of remote working and flexible schedules to juggle two jobs, automating work, minimising expectations, scheduling meetings to avoid clashes, and keeping all this a secret from their employers. They boost their income by collecting two full-time salaries.

In the UK and US, it is. Germany is more complicated, as employees are generally held to owe their employer full capacity during their contractually agreed working hours. Employers in Germany are obligated to make sure their employees aren’t working more than eight hours a day, and so contractual clauses prohibiting outside employment are standard. This doesn’t apply to work that is technically “self-employment”.

In other countries, employees could run afoul of contractual clauses that prohibit them from doing work for competing companies, but these aren’t as standard. 

What are the negative effects of overemployment?

The potential financial rewards from overemployment can encourage employees to only do the bare minimum in their jobs, sometimes called “quiet quitting”. And there can be other potentially serious negative effects for your company, such as:

  • Reduced growth. Overemployment can hold back a company’s growth, as employees don’t feel committed to its mission and long-term goals.

  • Poor company culture. Since overemployed employees avoid betraying any personal information to colleagues that could expose themselves, sometimes even using fake names, it can have a damaging effect on company culture.

  • Legal liabilities. In Germany, employers could face penalties if their staff are found to be working for more than eight hours a day, even without their knowledge.

  • Security. Overemployment also poses a serious conflict-of-interest risk if employees are working for a competitor, and possibly taking sensitive knowledge or information with them.

  • Employee wellbeing. Juggling more than one full-time job can also have detrimental effects on the employee’s health, such as burnout, extreme stress levels and physical ailments (headaches, gastrointestinal problems, etc.).

How can you tell if an employee is overemployed?

Overemployed employees work hard to keep their activities a secret from their employers. However, there are signs you can keep an eye out for:

  • No LinkedIn profile, or they haven’t added their job to it

  • Regularly missing meetings

  • Regular internet connection issues

  • Work being delivered late or not to an acceptable standard, especially if the employee never used to have this issue

  • Frequent absences

What should I do if an employee is showing signs of being overemployed?

Proving that an employee is overemployed can be extremely difficult. You can do a little online searching for clues, but if you suspect an employee may be working a second job, you should:

  • Have a conversation about their performance issues, and offer your support to help them improve

  • More actively manage the employee, asking for regular updates on their workload, and calling on them more often in meetings

Stopping overemployment before it happens

It’s much easier to stop overemployment before it happens than it is to catch it once it’s already happening.

Make sure anyone applying to work with you understands what your expectations will be, and how these will be measured. The overemployed take advantage of disorganised companies, so make sure you’re on top of your team’s workload.

You can also fight the cultural issues that lead employees to try to take advantage of their employers, namely a lack of trust and job security, and a sense of being undervalued.

Work to empower and inspire your employees. Make sure everyone has a clear career development path, with learning and development resources and opportunities for advancement, to encourage your employees to really engage with your company’s mission.

Companies looking to maintain loyalty in their teams should offer above-average salaries, but if you really want employees to go above and beyond, explore bonus or profit-sharing initiatives that mean employees will share in your company’s success.

Need more inspiration to further improve your business and avoid overemployment? Then check out these helpful reads:

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