New Research Looks Into the Impact of Having Two Jobs

May 09, 2018 by Josh Hrala

In today’s world, holding down two jobs is very popular. 7.2 million people in the US have more than one job, after all. These individuals usually – but not all of the time – have a day job and a night job. For example, a teacher can also be a bartender in the evening to make ends meet. But how does that workload impact workers at home and in the workplace?

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“Although understudied, dual job-holding is a prevalent and important work arrangement. Drawing from partial inclusion theory, we examine the popular press sentiment that organizations should prevent employees from holding two jobs as these “moonlighters” are likely to be tired and devoid of energy,” the team – led by Brian D. Webster from Bell State University – said in their abstract.

Basically, the current thinking – before this study – has been that those with two or more jobs often perform worse than those who have only one. This makes logical sense, right? After all, one job is more than enough stress for some individuals.

Surprisingly, the team found that those who worked two jobs had the same level of job performance as those with only one. Where these individuals suffered was at home where they lacked time to spend with their families, producing a different type of stress.

Let’s dig into how the study was conducted, starting with a little more info about these ‘moonlighters.’

“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,” Springer, the study’s publisher, writes on Phys.Org.

“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.”

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For their study, the team first took a look at job engagement, seeking to know whether or not the dual workers paid more attention to their primary job over their secondary job. The second study – which used a sample of teachers who were also bartenders – aimed to examine the attitudes the workers felt toward both jobs.

In other words, this part of the study was to examine how dual job holders performed at both of their jobs. Did they pay a lot of attention to their day job and not care about their secondary one? Did both suffer because they were worn out from working so much? This is what the team wanted to get to the bottom of.

After looking over their results, the team surprisingly found that people do not prioritize their jobs. A teacher, for instance, paid just as much attention to teaching as they did to the bartending role, even helping coworkers with the same level of detail.

The team also found that these individuals had roughly the same level of job performance as those who only worked one job, suggesting that the hypothesis that dual job workers are worse at their jobs is actually false.

But there has to be a trade, right? You can’t keep burning the candle at both ends without some sort of negative outcome.

The team found that this is true, too. However, instead of suffering in the workplace, the individuals opened themselves up to more work-life issues involving their families.

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“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,” Springer reports.

This means that workers who have two jobs can perform both jobs adequately, putting to rest the idea that employers shouldn’t hire these individuals because they will not be able to keep up with the workload.

“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,” reports Webster.

“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.”

The team’s study was recently published in the Journal of Business and Psychology. You can read it here.

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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