Side Hustle – The New Norm?

Side Hustle is the name being given to the practice of creating and running your own business, very often an online business, in your spare time, outside of the hours you work for an employer.

Assuming there is no contractual obligation that precludes this, and therefore the person is free to do it, is this something to be encouraged or discouraged?

I will attempt to present a balanced view

From the employee’s point of view, you can see the attraction of Side Hustle.

1.Obviously it is an opportunity to earn more money. Not to be underestimated these days.
2.It is an opportunity to discover the entrepreneur within you. If others can run a successful business perhaps you can.
3.It’s a possible way of escape from the job you dislike. It gives you a new-found freedom if successful.
4.Given the power of digital technology it is potentially a lot easier to launch your own business these days particularly if launching an online business.
5.It need not be costly. Perhaps your time is the one greatest cost.
6.You need not undertake this alone. Perhaps a relative or close friend could assist you and share the cost and potential #risk.
7.There is now a wealth of knowledge to be gained via the #web to assist you to get it right first time.
8.You can be flexible on the hours you give to this opportunity.
9.You can protect your work/life balance particularly if it is an online business not requiring travel.
10.You can incorporate your learning into your full-time job potentially making you a more valuable employee.
So, there are many good reasons for ‘Side Hustle ‘ from the employee’s perspective.

What about the employer’s perspective?

I am reminded of the well known quote of Tom Peters, author of In Search Of Excellence, as he addressed an audience of Senior Managers.

He said:

‘If you want to ask your employees a really scary question, ask them what they do in their spare time. You will find that one is the leader of a choir, another restores vintage cars, another designs and builds house extensions, another is an accomplished painter and so on. Which means, he goes on to say, that you have people as your employees who are highly self-motivated, very committed and really results oriented except during the hours of 9 am to 5 pm when they work for you! ‘

I remember you could hear a pin drop in the audience! What a challenging point to make! I wonder how many of the audience took notice of it and did something about their own employees’ contribution to their business.

You see people give of their best to those things they are gifted to do, really enjoy doing and gain success doing. They are so self-motivated no one else is needed to motivate them. What a message for managers struggling to motivate their people!

So how can organisations turn Side Hustle into a win for them as well as the employee? Well here are some thoughts:

1.To start with the organisation needs to be really committed to a culture and practice of full employee engagement.

What do I mean by this? It means that the organisation actively encourages and rewards its employees for contributing to the continuous improvement of the organisation in the jobs they do.

The organisation not only reinforces the need for acting in line with corporate values, and #achieving #performance standards, it also stresses the importance of thinking of new and better ways to do their jobs. This might include better use of #resources, improved use of systems, creative ways to increase customer satisfaction and introduction of new technologies.
Employees are not just seen as workers doing what they are told but partners in the business adding value by proposing and then implementing really important changes at their level.

2.If the organisation is a learning organisation, deeply committed to employee engagement and empowerment, it will welcome the notion of ‘Side Hustle ‘. It will not fight it. It will see it as another opportunity for the business to embrace further employee involvement in their jobs by having employees suggest changes as a result of their ‘Side Hustle’ experiences.

3.If the organisation has a Head of Innovation it will have a process for these ideas to be shared with this person.
The Head of Innovation will continuously collate the shared #information and #evaluate it for use in ongoing or new corporate improvement projects.

4.Enlightened and forward-thinking organisations like this create win/win outcomes. A win for the employee in learning how to grow a business and a win for the organisation as it benefits from their learnings.

Of course, employees need to feel secure enough to share in this way which is why they need to be working for enlightened organisations who believe that their employees’ personal development, in or outside of work, need not be a threat to their own organisational development.

You may say; ‘ But this is so naive. Surely the employee will leave the organisation when they have succeeded in building their own business. The result will very probably be a lose/win with organisation being the loser. I would respond; ‘That may well happen. If it does the organisation has still gained something to its benefit. If the employee stays then this partnership way of working would still continue.’

But what if the employee’s organisation is unenlightened regarding ‘Side Hustle’? Well here are the dangers for it:

1.They regard it as a threat possibly making noises about breach of contract and legal consequences thus alienating the employee and hastening their departure.
2.If the employee stays they leave ’emotionally ‘ withdrawing their #discretionary #effort and during their work hours focus on their out of work business interests.
3.The organisation loses its much needed talent and their bright ideas which could only benefit it.
4.They gain a reputation for being out of touch with today’s best practices in people’s #personal development.
5.Worst of all ‘ they bury their head in the sand ‘ when it comes to employee engagement which is such a major contributor to its future success. Stupid!


Is the practice of ‘Side Hustle’ merely another name for the old fashioned term of ‘Moonlighting’. I don’t think so.
The mood of the day I believe goes far beyond just earning supplementary income. People can see the often mind- blowing success of bloggers, online business owners, and others using this digital era to fully exploit their talents in other innovative business models.

I sense this mood of the day will be with us for some time, perhaps forever.

Organisations had better ‘go with the flow’ or suffer the consequences. ‘Side Hustle’ is now becoming ‘The New Norm!’

To find out more about this topic contact me or join me at Jeremy Francis HR
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