People who hold two jobs demonstrate as much engagement and performance in the workplace as their colleagues who have one job. However, dual job holders are likely to sacrifice family and personal time as a result. These are the findings of a new study in Springer’s Journal of Business and Psychology led by Brian Webster of Ball State University in the US which challenges the commonly-held notion that people who “moonlight” are not as focussed or dedicated as those with only one job.

Recent estimates suggest more than 7.2 million Americans work two or more jobs at once. These “moonlighters” work an average of 46.8 hours per week, compared to the average American employee who works 38.6 hours per week. A typical example of a dual jobholder is a teacher who works as a bartender during the evenings or weekends in order to supplement his income. Other dual jobholders work in a second job in order to gain work experience in a new field for future career development.

To test the hypotheses that moonlighters are likely to be tired, devoid of energy and lack commitment to their jobs, Webster and his co-researchers conducted two studies. The first study compared the level of work engagement of dual jobholders towards their primary and secondary jobs. The second study used a sample of teachers and bartenders to compare the work behavior and attitudes of single and dual jobholders.

Both studies found that people who have two jobs do not prioritise one job over the other. Dual jobholders were equally committed as an employee of both establishments, and to helping their co-workers. In fact, dual jobholders demonstrated the same high levels of work engagement and job performance at both their primary and secondary jobs. They performed as adequately as their single jobholding counterparts, and were not more strongly involved in one job to the detriment of the other.

However, both experiments showed that having two jobs may contribute to higher levels of work-family conflict, especially due to the time that dual jobholders spend away from their homes. This level of work-family conflict tends to be significantly more compared to that experienced by single jobholders.

“Although dual jobholders do not appear to be hurting the organizations in which they work, they may instead be hurting their lives outside of work,” explains Webster.

According to the research team, the results from this study show that there is no real need for organizations to enact policies that prevent people from taking on a second job.

“However, given the negative, personal effects of holding two jobs and the impact it has on work-family conflict, organizations may be inclined to enact policies that help dual jobholders strike a healthy balance between work life and home life,” adds Webster.

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