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Understanding Gen Z's Love of the Side Hustle

Generation Z has become well-known for their love of the side hustle, so what they may lack in workplace experience, they make up for with their ambition and entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, according to a survey by Microsoft, 62 percent of Gen Zers have started their own business, or intend to, and 48 percent have multiple side hustles that they're juggling at once.

While, of course, the most obvious reason for Gen Z’s love of side hustles is financial—with many early in career workers finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet—there are several reasons this talent chooses part-time entrepreneurship. Side hustles also give workers the opportunity to add to their toolbox of skills and pursue their passions, as well as express their creativity in ways they may not be able to in their full-time jobs.

So what does this mean for your organization? 

Although employers may be concerned about how side hustles will impact their employees’ job performance, it's important to understand that the entrepreneurship of Gen Z talent can actually benefit your company in several ways.

Why Companies Should Embrace Side Hustles

It's clear why early in career talent love side hustles, and although it may sound counterintuitive, you should too. While some companies have taken steps to make policies that address side hustle culture so it doesn't impact employee performance, there are several good reasons why your organization should allow, or even support, Gen Z workers with outside business ventures.

1. Increased Skills

Gen Z workers are eager to learn new skills that will help them grow in their careers, and a side hustle is a great way for them to do it. From customer service to technology to project management abilities, side hustles allow early in career talent to expand their skill sets and gain the knowledge they crave, which they can in turn use in their full-time jobs. 

2. Following Their Bliss

People who have side hustles often do it as a way to follow their passions and fulfill a need that may not necessarily be met in their full-time jobs. This is a good thing because a happy employee is a productive employee. When your workers follow their bliss outside of the office, those feelings of happiness flow over into the workplace, which can go a long way toward increasing their overall satisfaction on the job.

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3. Burnout Prevention

You may believe that when employees have a side hustle it will cause burnout, but these pursuits actually have the opposite effect. Having a side hustle can be a great outlet for creativity and learning, so this actually prevents burnout because employees get excited about the work they're doing, which energizes them and keeps them productive.

4. Increased Retention

You may fear that employees pursuing side hustles will have a negative impact on retention. While it's true that some employees may decide to pursue these passions on a full-time basis, in most cases, people with side hustles stay in their jobs. In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder found that 71 percent of people who have side hustles have no desire to pursue them full time.   

However, prohibiting or limiting employees' ability to run a side business may reduce retention because it will only stoke resentment that drives them to find a more supportive environment. If side hustles aren't affecting workers' job performance, a better approach is to encourage their endeavors, and even offer business advice to help them succeed. 

5. Financial Benefits

In some ways, allowing your employees to have side hustles can actually save your organization money. For example, if workers are learning valuable skills they can bring to your company through their outside endeavors, this means you save money on providing that training. Also, since these workers are earning money on top of the salary you pay them, they're more likely to be content with what they earn, and less likely to look for another job to make more money. Of course, this isn’t to say that your organization shouldn't provide professional development and pay increases—you absolutely should—however, it's important to consider the financial benefits of allowing employees to pursue their business passions outside of work.

Setting Side Hustle Policies

Although it's not a good idea to flat-out prohibit employees from pursuing their side hustles—and in some states, the law doesn't allow it—there are some reasonable limitations you can expect. For example, if your employees’ side hustles possibly conflict with your business, you can set standards of what is and isn’t allowed so your workers aren’t competing with you. Also, rules about the use of company equipment and time can also be included in a side hustle policy.

Let's face it: Side hustles are a huge part of the Gen Z experience, and they're not going anywhere. Although side hustles may make you feel like you're competing for your own workers' time and attention, they actually can be a good thing that gives employees fulfillment as they gain new skills that can benefit your organization. 

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