Why Your Should Support Your Employees Side Hustles

freelance employees, side hustle employee, side hustle employees

Lately, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the workplace world, its culture and workplace expectations from our bosses, peers, and society in general. As young children, we are taught to pick and specialize in one job that we will work in for the rest of our lives. We work hard to generate wealth to live the life we want only to socially be accepting to do live that life once we retire, collect social security and finally spend time with family. Being raised by a single income blue-collar family myself, the dream of a career, hard work and home ownership was instilled in me. My parents never taught me and coincidentally we never discussed being a business owner or entrepreneurship as a career path or business possibility.

Like many people, I graduated college with the dream of finding work and even in the min-recession of 2001, landed a position as a store HR Manager for Target. I was ecstatic and for a period of time happily worked 60 or more hours a week. And then I started to think about doing this for 40 or more years which was depressing, and I began to question my career, school choices and other decisions in life.

How a Family Job Loss Forced Me to Consider Being an Entrepreneur

I kept grinding because it seemed like the only option. This is what I’d spent thousands of dollars on school to do. I didn’t want to disappoint my family, and I was scared because I didn’t believe there were any other options for me. Those student loans don’t pay themselves. This lack of options caused more stress than I have cared to publicly admit. My family had a modest savings, but I didn’t understand the importance of a savings and creating a plan beyond my corporate job until the rug was literally pulled out from under me. In the recession of 2007 just two weeks before my daughter was born, my husband was laid off from his corporate IT job. For myself, I was out of work for maternity leave which paid 60% of my salary which was much less than my husband’s. We went from a comfortable life to living in a world where we made 77% less of the income we used to make.

I kept quiet about my husband’s job loss and financial situation, and I also suffered silently stressing because our modest savings wasn’t nearly enough. I had recently been promoted in my job and knew when I returned from maternity leave that I was luckier than most. So many people were suffering. People lost their homes. Times were tough and so many people were desperate for work. Having been a part of one too many RIF meetings and conversations was extremely difficult because it didn’t just impact the people my company employed but also their families. And although I didn’t say it aloud, I knew exactly how they were feeling. Things were falling apart at my own home which was eating away at me.

Why You Should Encourage Side Hustles and Moonlighting Employees

It was in those moments of being paralyzed by fear and stress that I vowed if we ever got out of this that I would never rely on a single income source as our family’s sole means of support. This series of events forced me and my husband in entrepreneurship. It was the only way we believed we could really control our destiny.  We made a promise to ourselves that we would never rely on a corporate job or jobs to be our only means of income for our family. The stress of the recession and our financial situation nearly ruined our family.

According to a 2017 PwC study, Fifty-three percent of all employees are stressed about their finances. Those who are stressed are more likely to be distracted by their finances at work, miss work on account of their personal financial issues, and cite health issues caused by financial stress. This financial stress is resulting in employees spending three hours or more of work time each week distracted and thinking about their financial problems and money.

We all should be preparing for the ebbs and flows in our family’s revenue and income. The lulls created by the economy, family situation or illness can devastate a family unit not to mention an employee’s productivity and stress levels in part due to a financial situation. Organizational leaders and CEOs should support employees in their entrepreneurship and side hustle efforts instead of creating roadblocks and policies against them. If finances are one of the leading reasons for stress for employees, we should support our employees to help eliminate those stresses either through using their spare time to generate revenue or providing them with the tools and resources to manage that stress including financial planning classes and mindfulness training.

Encourage your employees to learn about day trading, taking business classes to launch their freelance photography business, make smart investments or buying real estate. You don’t have to be an organization who provides amazing benefits and company perks to help empower your workers. According to a study by the Economist, about half of the world’s millionaires own their own businesses with most of it being from multiple streams of business. Your employees are people who have fears, dreams, and lives that intersect with work. By providing them with resources and support, you empower them to be their best selves while also allowing them to be happier, healthier and more productive in the workplace because they have less financial stress. You also are helping to promote other businesses and your local economy.

Just because an employee has a side hustle or is a business owner outside of their full-time job doesn’t mean they are leaving your organization. It just means they have more dreams and aspirations outside of the traditional career path. It’s a safe and logical decision to work this way.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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