According to research by Zapier, two in five Americans (40 percent) currently have a side hustle. There’s good evidence to suggest the population of side hustlers will continue to grow over the next few years as well. In years past, financial goals like creating passive income or saving up for a specific purchase motivate almost half of the side hustlers in the U.S.
However, as the job market cools down and inflation heats up as we move into 2023, many workers are seeking side gigs to make ends meet. Bankrate’s gig survey revealed that 41 percent of adults in the U.S. with a side job in 2022 needed the extra income to pay for their living expenses (up 10 percent from the previous year). With all this in mind, it’s possible that side gigs are becoming the norm for more people. The question becomes, what does all this mean for employers?
Who is Most Likely to Pick Up a Side Hustle?
According to McKinsey & Company, side hustlers and independent workers span all ages, education levels, and incomes. However, having a side gig is more common for younger workers (ages 18-24 and 25-34) and those with lower incomes. While 25.7 percent of respondents to McKinsey’s study indicated that side hustles helped them meet basic family needs, 24.9 percent reported working side hustles because of the autonomy and flexibility they bring.
The most popular types of side hustles out there include task-oriented jobs like proofreading, data entry, blog writing, and bookkeeping. There are also seasonal and project-based side hustles like seasonal warehouse staff, gift wrappers during the holidays, event planning, and more.
Advantages and Disadvantages for Employers
The simplest way for employers to digest the changing work landscape is by running down a list of the pros and cons.
Starting with the Pros, according to McKinsey & Company, gig workers and the independent workforce allow everything from nonprofits and government agencies to global corporations to easily expand their workforce during peak seasons before returning to their leaner core team during slow seasons. For smaller enterprises, the availability of part-time side hustlers can vastly reduce the cost of hiring specialized talent, lowering the barriers for starting a new business. So, the growing number of side hustlers could help increase the number of small businesses.
Hiring side hustlers can also save you money. According to Glassdoor, employers spend an average of $4,000 for every new hire. This includes job sourcing, background checks, pre-hire assessments, marketing, and more. On top of that, the average time to fill an open position is 24 days, so hiring side hustlers on a per-project basis could help you save time as well.
Moving onto the cons for employers, does the increasing number of people working side jobs mean that some of their employees are splitting their time? It’s possible that dedicating time to a side gig could detract from an employee’s productivity or performance. Some employers worry that their employees will work on side gigs during regular working hours, cutting into time they should dedicate to the business. This calls to mind the question of whether it’s ethical for full-time employees to work side gigs at all.
Most agree that employees are free to work a side hustle as long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to perform for their main employer. In the evolving world of remote work, it’s increasingly more common for leaders to evaluate the performance of their teams based on value-added rather than hours worked.
How Should Employers Move Forward?
Side hustles, freelancing, and contract work are becoming an integrated part of the modern workforce. Employers worried about their workers dedicating time to side hustles should consider why so many are attracted to side hustles in the first place. If it’s not to make ends meet, side hustles give workers more autonomy and flexibility. Focusing on employee wellbeing and offering your employees flexible schedules or the ability to work from home could draw them away from working side hustles altogether.
For employers considering how to take advantage of the growing number of freelancers and side hustlers in the workforce, it’s best to focus on hiring for specific projects for task-oriented work. As a means of augmenting your team, side hustlers can take care of smaller tasks that need to be done, taking the burden off your full-time employees so they can focus on more long-term efforts.
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