Swiggy staffers can now work for others in new moonlighting policy

Food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy announced an industry first on Wednesday, allowing employees to take on external projects pro-bono or even against economic consideration based on internal approvals.

“This may include activities outside office hours or on weekends that do not affect their productivity at the full-time job or that have a conflict of interest in any way with Swiggy’s business,” the company said.

Swiggy’s initiative comes amid companies that are dealing with high turnover and the demand for more flexibility from employees. But not too many others are likely to endorse moonlight — albeit ethically in this case — as a formalized policy, recruiting and HR experts and companies say.

While such policies provide more freedom, more opportunities to hone skills, and a potential additional source of income that could reduce the employee’s drive to relocate, there will be significant challenges in monitoring such crowds and the potential for conflict in the future. A wrong move or breach of trust by one employee can lead to a backlash for the rest.

“There can be some experimentation, some companies may want to catch up. But such a policy cannot be extended to all levels, categories and functions. It must be discretionary,” said Ajit Isaac, president at business services firm

.

“It takes one conflict, one dilution to disapprove of a policy,” he added.

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Hybrid/remote work during the pandemic has led to an increase in undeclared work among white-collar professionals, especially in technology/IT companies, ET reported in October.

The moonlight problem is real, but most companies will look for ways to stop it rather than encourage it, said Shiv Agrawal, director of recruiting firm ABC Consultants. “In addition, there are very few jobs where productivity standards are so tightly defined that it is possible to map exactly how taking on remote work affects the actual job.”

While edtech company UpGrad allows employees to teach at various institutes as host faculty, it is strictly on a case-by-case basis, said co-founder Mayank Kumar. There are no plans to introduce it as a policy. “It would be extremely difficult to monitor,” he says.

Chandrika Pasricha, founder of freelance platform Flexing It, said during Covid that there were companies in some sectors such as hospitality and travel that relaxed their rules and let employees take gigs because they were unable to fully utilize them during the pandemic. Some of them have since withdrawn the option.

However, there are some small startups, boutique consultancies, and digital marketing agencies that still let some employees run side projects with their approval. Some larger companies are also evaluating the option, Pasricha added.

“What it requires is trust in the team and deliver much clearer results. As long as the work doesn’t suffer, employees can be both effective and happier,” she said.

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