Should you support an employee with a side hustle?

Zane Franke 16.12.2022
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So, you’ve found out your employee has a side hustle outside of their current full-time role at your company. Don’t panic, it actually might be a good thing. 

Perhaps your first instinct is to be skeptical of your employee having commitments outside of their 9 to 5, so we’re here to look at the benefits of supporting your employee’s side business and give some pointers on what boundaries to set in place to avoid potential conflict.

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Why do employees have side hustles?

Having a side job is fairly common among employees across the world. According to a 2022 Aviva survey, one in five (19%) of adult workers in the UK have a side hustle, and that number almost doubles across the Atlantic — 40% of American workers have a side hustle, according to a 2022 Zapier report

The rise of remote work during the pandemic has given employees an opportunity to be more flexible with their schedules and save time on commuting, and some have chosen to use that time to pursue a side gig. A healthy remote work lifestyle also allows employees to be more productive and get more done in less time, allowing for additional income outside of their day job. 

Another benefit of having a side gig is a chance to pursue one’s passion and turn it into additional income. This way, employees can recharge and stay motivated outside of regular working hours.

employee side job

Unfortunately, inflation and the rising cost of living crisis are also factors that contribute to employees looking for a second job on the side. According to a 2019 ING survey, a whopping 66% of Europeans who have no savings say they don’t earn enough to save for retirement, and more than half (51%) of Europeans admit they sometimes run out of money before payday. In the U.S., the situation is quite similar — 70% of workers say they don’t earn enough to live a comfortable life. These numbers are enough to understand why some employees need a job on the side to make ends meet. 

Reasons to support your employee who has a side hustle

While it may seem counterintuitive, supporting your employees in pursuing a side business can be a great benefit to both their work life and your organization. Below are some reasons why:

They learn new skills

Employees who have a side job are likely to bring new skills, as well as sharpen existing ones, that might be useful in their full-time job. Dividing their time working on different projects in different roles allows employees to polish their problem-solving skills and get exposure to experiences they might have missed out on if they only focused on one job. 

Having multiple streams of income also requires quite a bit of time and project management, so if your employee is successful at meeting the demands of a full-time job and a side hustle, chances are those skills will translate directly to specific projects within their role. 

They bring in new connections

Having an employee with a side business can also be beneficial to you by potentially bringing in new connections. For example, if your employee owns a small business as a side hustle and has great relationships with their customers, they might be exposing them to the services of your business. Or, working for someone else on the side also widens their professional network that, consequently, might expand further into your company.

employee side hustle

It builds trust

It is crucial to have trust between the employer and the employee, and that includes trusting that the employee will successfully manage having a side job. Reaching a solid level of trust will give employees a sense of security and will ultimately lead to better employee retention. 

If you are absolutely against your employees having a side hustle, even with good intentions, it will come across as too demanding and controlling and will potentially drive the employee to look elsewhere for a full-time job. 

It will make them happier

Yes, simple as that. According to a 2021 study, employees who have side hustles feel psychologically empowered and are able to enrich their full-time work performance. If they seek additional opportunities outside of their day job, employees are more likely to be success-motivated. 

Pursuing something that brings professional happiness is closely tied to personal happiness, and having happy, satisfied employees is crucial to the success of your business. For example, if the employees don’t get enough variety at their full-time job but value the security of it, having an exciting side gig might create a balance that leads to better job satisfaction. 

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Are there any drawbacks?

Absolutely. Not every employee will be an expert when it comes to juggling a job and a side hustle, and you have to prepare for when it might become an issue and decide whether or not to support an employee who is pursuing this venture.

No interference

A side hustle should not interfere with the employee’s full-time job, and this is the biggest potential problem that may arise when there is another job on the side. It might become a distraction, lead to burnout, and take away focus and productivity from their role, going as far as working on side projects on your company’s time. 

With remote work, though, it can be challenging to track how exactly your employees spend their work days, so DeskTime is a good solution for tracking how much time is spent on work-related projects in comparison to other endeavors. 

employee side hustle drawbacks

Conflict of interest

Another possible issue that you want to avoid is allowing your employee to work for your direct competitors on the side. Most companies have policies set in place that don’t allow their employees to work for their competitors in any capacity to avoid conflict of interest.

It’s important to lay out clear expectations and boundaries around side hustles right from the start to refrain from any disputes surrounding your company’s values. 

Be supportive, yet keep the boundaries clear

As we have learned, there are many benefits from your employee having a side hustle, including bringing in new skills and connections, building trust, and making them more driven and motivated to succeed. You do, however, have to ensure that the side hustle doesn’t interfere with the full-time job or potentially give more revenue to your competitors. 

Should you go the extra mile and accommodate your employee’s side hustle? Well, that’s up to you. If you see clear benefits, they are continuously meeting deadlines, and there is no impact on their performance, giving them flexible work hours might work in your favor. It all depends on the situation you’re in and how much support you are willing to give.

At the end of the day, if your employee’s side gig doesn’t negatively impact their daily job responsibilities, it should not be an issue. It is valid to be concerned about outside commitments, and the best strategy is to provide an opportunity for open communication that will help with building trust and a reliable support system.

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