When it comes to careers, many of us no longer depend on a single source of income. In fact, people are turning to side hustles now more than ever. And according to Bankrate, nearly 40% of Americans dedicate time each week to at least one side hustle.
This rise in popularity makes sense, especially with 62% of Americans working paycheck to paycheck. But even though side hustles make it possible to generate extra cash, they’re attractive for other reasons, as well. For example, many people fulfill their creative aspirations through projects outside of their primary jobs.
Whether it’s selling handcrafted items on Etsy, offering freelance website design services, walking dogs, tutoring, or joining a band, side projects can provide much more than a secondary income. They’re often personally rewarding pursuits that fit alongside day-to-day careers. No wonder so many people are turning to side hustles.
How Side Hustles Benefit Employees
In the past, employers frowned upon moonlighting. Even now, some people think they should hide this activity from their employer. But as long as a side project doesn’t interfere with primary job responsibilities, there’s no need to keep it secret. In fact, with qualified talent in short supply, forward-thinking companies see multiple reasons to support it.
For example, employees often want to explore personal interests outside their day job. A side project can be an opportunity to earn some extra money while pursuing passions that may not be part of an individual’s primary profession.
It can also be a fulfilling creative outlet where people can express themselves in different ways, build expertise in new areas, and expand their capabilities. It may be a skill that translates into the workplace, like freelance writing. Or it could be a purely creative endeavor, such as nature photography. Regardless, this kind of growth helps people bring a fresh perspective to their 9-to-5 role.
Side gigs can also boost mental health in multiple ways. The freedom to pursue outside interests is rewarding and empowering. Also, these activities help employees connect with interesting people and expand their networks. Plus, earning extra income can improve wellbeing by reducing financial insecurity.
The freedom to develop side projects shows employees their company trusts their decisions, supports their growth, and cares about their happiness. This, in turn, builds goodwill that strengthens employee morale and engagement.
How Employers Benefit From Side Hustles
Employers also see multiple benefits when supporting people in their moonlighting endeavors. For starters, because employees feel more engaged when they’re free to pursue personal passions, they’re also more satisfied and loyal. And when employees don’t feel pressure to choose between jobs, it leads to higher retention rates and avoids costly turnover.
By encouraging people to take breaks from work and develop creative outlets, employers can prevent burnout and keep team members motivated. What’s more, when people are excited by their side projects, they’re less likely to get bored or stagnant in their primary role.
Completing passion projects outside of work also boosts confidence, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills that employees can apply on the job. Plus, when people gain new knowledge and skills elsewhere, they’ll bring those capabilities to their day-to-day roles. Ultimately, this enhances overall talent development.
Finally, backing side hustles can make any company more attractive to top talent. Great candidates often seek opportunities for career growth, creative freedom, and work-life balance. When supported effectively, gig work leads to a more skilled, loyal workforce, a healthier work culture, and a better bottom line.
How Managers Can Support Side Hustles
Managers are crucial in ensuring that employees feel empowered to pursue gig work and passion projects. Here are several ways to accomplish this:
One approach is to offer flexibility whenever possible, to accommodate employee side projects. This isn’t about making side hustles a priority. However, small accommodations go a long way toward making employees feel trusted and supported when juggling multiple agendas.
Even people with one job are looking for more work flexibility these days. And employers are discovering endless options. So, if you haven’t yet formalized flexible work policies, consider these questions:
- Do you permit occasional remote workdays?
- What kind of flexible hours do you offer?
- Do you offer a 4-day workweek option or other schedule variations?
- Are employees able to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal commitments or events?
Managers may also want to consider providing resources to assist people with side projects. Offering access to company equipment, mentorships, networks, or even a special development budget demonstrates a commitment to employee aspirations beyond their current role in the company.
Additionally, leaders can encourage employees to frame and manage side hustles effectively by offering learning opportunities focused on best practices. This could include hosting expert speakers or workshops, sponsoring a community of interest, or paying for professional courses or conferences.
Above all, the easiest way to make staff members feel valued is simply to take an interest in their side hustle and offer feedback when it’s requested. Asking engaging questions and celebrating milestones boosts morale and is always appreciated. With some creative thinking, any manager can find small but impactful ways to facilitate side hustles.
Addressing Potential Issues
While side hustles can be advantageous for employees and employers alike, there are also several potential downsides to overcome. Clear expectations and communication are key. First, managers should set the stage by emphasizing that the primary focus for all staff must be their day-to-day job responsibilities.
Employees need to be committed to their roles when they’re on the job. Offering them the flexibility to work around other projects is a privilege that shouldn’t be abused, and managers need to consistently reinforce this point. What’s more, it’s vital to ensure that a side hustle doesn’t create a conflict of interest with an employee’s primary role. Again, transparency is essential here.
With the right balance, companies can fully realize the benefits of encouraging employees’ passions without compromising business priorities. With some flexibility and support from managers, side hustles can be achieved successfully alongside normal workloads.
A Final Word
Employers no longer need to consider side hustles a threat. On the contrary. Supporting side hustles is a winning strategy for companies looking to attract and retain enterprising top talent.
With thoughtfully designed policies, open communication, and managerial oversight, organizations are finding that side projects help expand workforce skills, increase engagement, and improve loyalty. And with 44% of people expecting to moonlight throughout their careers, this trend is on track to define the future of work. How is your organization responding?