As white-collar employees continue to contend with rising costs of living and stagnated salaries, a new term is entering our post-covid workplace vernacular – overemployment.
Opposed to quiet quitting and quiet firing, which describe lackluster responses to dissatisfaction in the workplace, overemployment refers to working two full-time jobs for double the paychecks, often at the same time.
Overemployment, or ‘OE' to those in the community, can open up lucrative opportunities to those who know how to play the game well. But is doubling your workload the answer to a rapidly volatile job climate, or is it a legally dubious practice that puts employers on the back foot?
What is Overemployment?
Overemployment isn't strictly a new concept. Workers have been carrying out multiple jobs since employment began. However, thanks to public discussions on sites like TikTok and Reddit, an old concept has recently been given a new shiny term — and even its own dedicated website: overemployed.com.
But what exactly does overemployment mean? Well, according to the site overemployed.com, overemployed professionals are people who “work two remote jobs, earn extra income, and achieve financial freedom”. By taking on two, typically junior jobs, at once, the practice allows skilled employees to rake in double the earnings from the comfort of their own homes.
And instead of working around the clock, or engaging in a side hustle after your 9-5, overemployed workers are typically performing multiple jobs simultaneously, side by side, in most cases remotely.
What is Underemployment?
Overemployment is the counter to underemployment — a phenomenon where individuals don't engage in full-time work or are employed in a role that doesn't match their experience, training, or economic needs.
What's the Appeal of Overemployment?
For many people that have joined the overemployment community, two jobs are definitely proving to be better than one.
With consumer prices rising to a 41-year high this June, and skyrocketing inflation knocking down the buying power of take-home pay by 3.6%, working one job is simply no longer an option for many members of the US workforce. Instead, by doubling up their responsibilities, workers are able to achieve greater financial security by multiplying their paychecks, while also receiving improved medical benefits and enhancing their job security.
Moreover, if overemployed workers are able to balance their responsibilities adequately, they can access these perks without overextending themselves or burning out. In a climate where 77% of US workers claimed to have experienced burnout, this is proving to be a real game changer.
But don't just take our word for it. According to a member of the Reddit ‘Overemployed' channel, adopting the tactic can deliver results quickly. After cashing in multiple paychecks for the first time, the overemployed worker claimed that they were immediately able to pay down $1500 on their credit card, buy themselves a fall jacket that they would never normally consider due to the price tag, and put the rest in savings.
Fellow Reddit user ‘nitra007' echoes this success by claiming they would “never ever go back in office or back to clock punching” after reaping the benefits from overemployment.
“If I manage all five jobs for a year, I will make around $1.2 million in 2022… I’m still struggling to grasp the sheer amount of money dumping into my bank account.” – Success story from Reddit user SweelMullet
Various success stories can be found on the overemployed.com website too. On the more extreme end of the spectrum, an IT professional has claimed to be making $1.2 million a year from working five different jobs, four of which are at Fortune 500 companies. In their own words, they are ‘still struggling to grasp the sheer amount of money dumping into my bank account'.
Is Overemployment Legal?
But while the financial benefits of overemployment are clear, concerns still remain. Many proponents of overemployment are questioning the legality and ethics surrounding the practice, begging the question – is any of this actually legal?
If you're asking overemployed.com, yes, it is legal to work multiple jobs. In the US, at-will employment is the law, meaning thanks to the free market, it's fair game for employees to cash in two full-time paychecks at once. They should, however, keep an eye on taxes as rates can escalate very fast.
But does this mean overemployed workers are guaranteed job security? No. While there are no laws that ban working for more than one company, you can still be terminated at any moment for doing so, especially if it's against your workplace policy. For this reason, knowledge authorities at overemployed.com recommend consulting an employment lawyer to fully understand your risks, as well as avoiding jobs that will create a conflict of interest.
The Consequences of Overemployment
While the law may seem to back moonlighting multiple roles one thing is clear, employees practicing overemployment need to keep quiet.
Knowledge-sharing websites and forums like Reddit continually stress the importance of staying silent about working two jobs. For instance, when issuing advice for working out two remote jobs, overemployed.com's golden rule is to not talk about it. And this doesn't just refer to your respective employers. The site attests that you shouldn't even discuss the matter with family members outside of your household.
But why are overemployed individuals forced to remain secret about their double lives? Well, in a day and age where hustle culture is glorified, giving a job 50% of your time and energy will often be met with backlash, and not just from your superiors.
Many people who over-employ themselves will be accused of tricking their bosses, stealing finite job positions, and taking home a bigger salary than is deserved. In many instances, they will receive similar criticism to those that practice quiet quitting, a term that describes prioritizing a work-life balance over going above and beyond in a workplace.
However, as inflation rates creep even higher, salaries stagnate and lay offs increase, failing to find clever solutions to the employment crisis could be far worse than bearing the brunt of public scrutiny. It's only natural that we'll see more and more employees bolstering their finances with overworking.