The most common motivation behind starting a side hustle is money. Employees are looking for an income stream beyond their salaries, especially if they only get a nominal raise every year. Extra income means more capital to pay down debt from credit cards, student loans, or large medical bills. It could mean paying off a house faster or building a down payment to buy a house in the first place. It could mean building a substantial emergency fund in case the world shuts down again.
22 million jobs were lost between February and April of 2020. By October, 2020, 2.4 million people had been unemployed for over 27 weeks, pushing them into the long-term joblessness category. With that kind of history, it’s no wonder Americans are taking job security into their own hands. These days, 1 in 3 Americans have a side hustle which supplements the income from their primary job and often monetizes a hobby or passion project.
The pandemic changed the way work is done, forcing businesses to restructure everything from customer service to cubicle space. Today, it’s all too common to hear that someone works a hybrid schedule, only swapping their athleisure for business casual one or two days a week to head into the office. It is just as common to hear that someone works fully from home. Not commuting all or most of the time means more time to pursue things outside of their main job and many workers are taking full advantage.
So how can primary employers fit into this?
Most employee handbooks will contain a “side hustle” policy that usually boils down to “don’t let it interfere with your job.” But rather than pretend like it isn’t happening (or the other extreme of immediate termination) , why not start a conversation? Engage with employees to find out their side hustle “why.” Is it a long term passion project they’ve always wanted to pursue? Is it just a way to make extra money in their down time? Is there some larger issue or concern driving the arrangement?
Taking the time to engage with the employee on their motivations behind starting a side hustle is a great show of support.
But, it is possible for employers to do even more.
A vesting bonus from Keep could help these employees access that immediate cash, to support whatever the driver is behind their side hustle. If the motivation is finances, they could use the lump sum to address some of their money concerns. If it’s about pursuing a beloved hobby, the funds could be used for supplies or materials. Either way, the employer/employee relationship is bolstered and the employees feel valued. Employees who feel supported at their jobs are engaged employees. And higher engagement means higher productivity for the company. An added bonus – supervisors might have a new supplier for organic soap.