The non-monogamous employee and the benefits of seeing other people
There's no way to sugarcoat it: the thrill is gone. Life has gotten routine and unsatisfying. The electric spark with which you started the relationship has been replaced by a comfortable, but unexciting lull.
On the other hand, a permanent break-up is neither warranted nor desired. After all, it's not a terrible relationship; it does provide you with some security. It's just that you find yourself craving the excitement of new possibilities.
It's time for you to say those powerful words, "I want to see other people"...
...to your boss.
No, we're not talking about your love life here, but your work life. When your main job is leaving you professionally, emotionally, or financially unfulfilled, but you don't want to leave it outright, seeing other people—pursuing outside work—is an option for many people. About 7.6 million Americans are working multiple jobs. While most are doing it to make some needed extra cash, an Indeed.com survey found as many as 14 percent of multiple job-holders are doing it to "explore a new career."
In other words, they're shopping around for something that's better than their current career. Whether you call what they're doing "moonlighting" or a "side hustle," many multi-job workers reap the benefits of seeing other people.
Why do so many workers want to see other people?
A non-exclusive working relationship is almost like that of a fleeting romantic relationship. Just like Tinder and Match.com for singles, job seeking sites provide a constant taste of the many options out there. With so many singles and jobs to choose from, why get tied down to one, right?
Just like Tinder and Match.com for singles, job seeking sites provide a constant taste of the many options out there.
Also, let's face it: if you're not getting what you need from your current job, looking for satisfaction outside of it can bring a new vigor and sense of purpose to your life. That overall happiness can't help but spill into your main job, making you a better employee.
There's also a practical benefit. Because they generally aren't expected to pay you a living wage, or even offer benefits, your side employers might be more willing to let you stretch into areas where you don't have much experience. Having a side gig is a great way to learn new skills that may eventually turn into a new career. Freelance writing for a blog, for instance, could help you become a professional writer. Doing volunteer work for a non-profit could lead to a full-time position there.
With all the depressing layoff stories we see in the news, it's clear many companies see their relationship with workers as anything but exclusive or permanent. So it makes sense to develop as many skills as possible while you're employed, rather than waiting for the day your company says to you, "We'd like to see other people..."
The rules of seeing other people
Before you go all Ashley Madison and decide to run around on your full-time job, remember: in love and in work, seeing other people has its risks. The first thing you should do is check with your employer to ensure outside work doesn’t violate any rules. Some employers forbid outside work that competes with their business, and some employers frown on outside work of any kind.
Once you’re confident your company will let you see other people, there are some other rules to follow:
Don't sneak around
Keep emotions in mind
Your primary job comes first
Keep the two gigs separate
"I think hiding that you're working someplace else is never a good idea," says Diane Gottsman, nationally recognized business etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. After all, you might get caught. One errant social media post, or a sighting on the street with your side gig, and your cover is blown.
"It sets you up to look dishonest even if your intentions are good," says Gottsman.
To avoid that risk, clear any outside work intentions with your supervisor and/or your company's HR office. You want to make sure they're okay with you doing outside work and that everyone is on the same page, regardless of what the company handbook says.
While you're fully disclosing, be careful not to over-explain your decision. "You don't have to apologize," Gottsman says, "or give reasons like, 'You don't pay me enough, therefore I can't pay my rent!' Don't go in with a chip on your shoulder."
Remember, in work as in love, honesty is the best policy. "If you're dating two people and it's on the board—'I'm seeing you and I'm seeing them'—they may not like it, but at least you're honest," says Gottsman. Similarly, being upfront about your desire to see other people at work is vastly preferable to sneaking around.
The decision to be a non-monogamous employee doesn't just involve money or skills. There are emotions involved, too: yours, your co-workers', and your employer's, who might take your desire to seek outside work personally.
"You tend to think there are no emotions involved because it's just business," says Gottsman. "But like a romantic relationship, there are emotions involved. Your boss may or may not like you working outside of their business."
So think very carefully about how you approach the issue with your employer. If you don't think the response will be positive, you may want to consider if another job is even worth it.
The best, perhaps only, way to make sure your side gig doesn't damage your relationship with your main job is to make sure your full-time job remains number one on your priority list.
"You still need to give 100 percent at your full-time job," says Gottsman, who believes a side gig is no excuse for subpar performance on your primary job. "Often, [people will say], 'Oh gosh, I worked late at the second job and I'm so tired today," she says. "Well that is your choice. Your boss at the primary job is entitled to 100 percent of your best."
We're talking "separation-of-church-and-state" separate. When you're at your second job, no badmouthing your boss or sharing secrets from your main, full-time job. When you're at your main job, no using work materials (computers, office supplies etc.) to benefit your outside work or recruiting co-workers for your side gig. "Make sure one is not taking from the other," Gottsman says.
So if you feel the yearning for something new, if your employer’s bylaws allow it, and if you follow the rules, go ahead and have the "I want to see other people" talk. As long as you're open about it, having a fling with another career could be just what you need.
Sid Lipsey is a freelance writer who currently makes his home in Los Angeles. A travel, entertainment and pop culture junkie, Sid is a former producer for CNN and contributing editor for Yahoo Travel. Find him on Twitter: @SidLipsey