As unemployment has surged and hours have been cut due to the pandemic, many workers have turned to side hustles to supplement or replace their income. The gig economy or the side hustle has been a reality for a while now, and it’s likely to continue increasing. Some do it for the extra income, some for flexibility in creating their own schedule, and some as a creative outlet.
As an employer, often the first reaction to hearing about an employee’s side job is to feel threatened, but that perspective won’t serve you well in the long term. Especially when the side job involves creative work, it’s easy for an employer to feel that they own the employee’s entire creative talent. But employees have many skills and many ways to leverage those skills outside of work, and we should encourage them to do so without making them feel like their job is at risk.
For an employee to be their best self at work, the totality of their life must be fulfilling. Whether it provides for them financially or creatively, what your employee does in their free time can benefit you with a happier, more focused, more productive employee. Make it your job to empower your employees to take advantage of the opportunities to use their talents outside of work.
Side jobs closely related to their day job often cause more concern for employers, but even in those cases, we should be looking for ways to create a positive situation for all involved. While beginning a competing business is not acceptable, oftentimes freelance jobs are using their talents in a different way or different scope. The best way to handle this from an employer standpoint is to create a policy around freelancing or other side jobs that gives employees freedom to use their talents while also protecting the employer’s interests.
If the job crosses into the territory of competition, look for ways to create an incentive structure to bring the job to your company instead. Reward the employee for bringing in the work and giving you the first right of refusal on jobs. This structure allows them to freelance for their family and friends, in other industries, or in other ways that don’t compete with your business while also allowing them to pitch projects that interest them.
Ultimately, approaching an employee’s side gig as a positive thing will result in satisfied employees. A strict no moonlighting policy may be viewed as restrictive and could drive them to look for a different job where their side business is welcomed or where they earn enough to not need a side business.
The gig economy is here to stay, and it will only grow stronger in years to come. With employees seeking to grow and utilize their talents outside of the scope of their daily job and create extra income at the same time, it’s time to welcome the gig economy. Create policies for your workplace that make sense for your company while empowering your employees to thrive.
If you need help creating a policy that encompasses support for employees who have a side hustle, reach out to us at WhyHR. We can help you create the right policy for your business and your employees.