Learning & Development

Gen Z and the Side Hustle

Most companies would love workers to dedicate their lives to their jobs and sacrifice personal hobbies and relationships to pursue their passion for work.

But such workers may be difficult to find given younger workers’ tendency to engage in one or more side hustles, or alternative sources of income and uses of their time.

Moonlighting in the 21st Century

“Generational shifts, an uncertain economy and a dynamic workplace situation mean the typical career of a young worker today looks very different than years ago, pre-pandemic,” writes Alex Christian in an article for BBC Worklife. “Gen Z is moving into the workforce in significant numbers: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows there were 21 million employees aged 16 to 24 in the US by July 2022, with the employment rate rising 54.4% year-on-year. And as they age in, the side hustle will likely grow in popularity and acceptance. Over time, pursuing passion projects and multiple streams of income may well prove to be one of the most significant differentiating factors of the youngest generation in the workforce.”

Employers must understand the prevalence of side hustles among younger workers when considering what, if any, company policies need to be in place to account for the growing practice.

Managing Employee Side Hustles

For example, should companies have policies against having another job or running small businesses outside of employees’ work with the organization? Unless there’s a compelling reason to enforce such a restriction, companies may turn away large numbers of qualified (and ambitious) workers who represent the future of a labor force that’s already in high demand.

At the same time, companies may have legitimate concerns about confidentiality, competition, and impact on employee performance. Although these are important considerations, they may be addressable without a wholesale prohibition against employee side hustles.

The work world—and employee values—today is very different from just a few short years ago. Employers should exercise caution when attempting to manage employee activities outside of work, even if those activities include working for someone else.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *