The workplace is rapidly changing. Gruelling commutes, awkward social events, and lengthy in-person meetings are increasingly being replaced by remote and hybrid workers who complete their work on their own time, in the comfort of their own home.
This means many of your employees may be seeking (or maintaining) additional sources of income from side hustles/freelance gigs.
For many workers, the extra income is necessary, helping to pay down debt, and cover essential expenses and monthly bills. For others, side hustles are a way to set aside extra savings for the future.
While side hustles may seem like a new endeavor, employees around the world have long engaged in side jobs to supplement their income. In 2019, before the pandemic, an estimated 57 million Americans freelanced on the side. This number has risen dramatically since the pandemic. The recent data shows that sixty-seven percent of Americans with a side hustle started it within the past three years and 31 percent started one in 2020.
While it may feel strange and counterintuitive to support employee side hustles, the fact is that supporting and nurturing these passions will benefit both the employer and the employee.
But before we get into some ideas of how to support your employee freelance endeavors, let’s first look at why it’s important to support and encourage these initiatives..
Why employers should support employee side hustles
It spurs creativity
Side hustles are often an extension of an employee’s hobby or interest. This can help spur new approaches and creativity to their full time jobs. For example, an employee who bakes and sells cakes on the side, might have discovered a marketing tip on social media that not only generates business for their side hustle, but also for their full-time employer as well.
It reduces turnover
Employees who feel supported in their off-hours pursuits are more likely to remain with their employer. Plus, freelance gigs are quite common for some types of jobs, such as graphic design or content writing. Forbidding side hustles may also scare off potential new hires who see freelance assignments as the best way to supplement their income.
It keeps employees happy
Side hustles are often hobbies and interests, and the joy of such a pursuit means your employees are more likely to come to work happy. Consider a scenario of a software developer who is passionate about teaching yoga on the side. Encouraging this ensures a deep level of satisfaction that can spill into every facet of their life.
It allows employees to exhibit valuable characteristics
Working on the side requires an enormous amount of hard work, self motivation, problem solving, entrepreneurship, and innovation. These are all traits any employer would be fortunate to have, and potentially benefit from.
Wait, is there a risk?
Many employers fear that employee side hustles will take employees away from their daily tasks. However supporting employees in their pursuit of freelance projects in addition to company assignments creates a dynamic working environment, and a potential innovation hub.
Even if a side hustle becomes successful, and becomes the main hustle, consider the benefit of having a former employee who continually refers business to you.
Using your intranet to support employee side hustles
An easy way to support your employees’ side hustles is through your intranet. As a place for all employees to connect and engage with each other, it is the ideal place to support your employee endeavors.
One of the best examples is from ThoughtFarmer customer PCI. On their intranet they created an Associate Marketplace section, where their associates can promote and advertise any goods or services they sell on the side. Each associate with a side business gets their own page to describe their product/service. This page also includes contact information and links to any external websites associated with their business.
Current side hustles at PCI include a lip gloss making business, wildlife photographs, real estate services, and painted glassware. Is it any wonder this organization consistently wins the best place to work?
Here at ThoughtFarmer, we are also proud to have a collection of entrepreneurs. Current freelance gigs include cake baking, fitness instruction, and scrunchie making!
In conclusion, while it may feel scary to support employees to explore side hustles, the benefits far outweigh the risks. The investment in the development, creativity, and learning that these side jobs provide have the potential to truly benefit your organization.
Have questions? Get in touch! We're always happy to hear from you.