How To Manage Employees With Side Hustles Outside Of Work

Julie Lock, commercial director at workforce management solutions provider Mitrefinch, lists out some of the dos and don’ts when it comes to managing employees who have started their own business project.

A new study has revealed that 25 percent of employees in the UK have a side hustle outside of their main job, allowing people to earn a second income or jump headfirst into a new business venture. But where has this interest in side hustles come from and how should employers deal with it?

The coronavirus pandemic has forced change into people’s lives; impacting their professions and personal lives too, as our usual activities were put on hold and more time was spent at home. With this added time, employees have been able to reflect on what is important to them, and for many, lockdown has given them the opportunity and confidence to pursue business ideas and personal goals.       

However, when an employee announces that they have started a side hustle, it can be a challenging situation for employers to come to terms with, with the worry that employees may leave the company or become distracted at work. But, by taking a stance against the idea, management may lose their best talent in the business. Here are some ways to successfully manage an employee who has a side hustle:

1. Maintain open communication in the workplace

Transparency is key. Employees must feel able to communicate openly with their line manager. Not only will this promote a healthy and efficient work environment, but the employee will feel able to keep their manager updated with the success of their side hustle or any changes to their situation. 

Organising a meeting with the employee to touch base on their business idea may be a productive activity; enabling the employer to offer support, and for both parties to voice any immediate concerns (for example, overworking or business competition).

Management may want to ask their employee how the side hustle came about in the first place. For example, it may have been a passion of theirs for a long time or they might be in need of an additional income  – if it’s the latter, then these concerns should be flagged and action taken to further support the employee (even if it’s on a short-term basis). According to a study by CV-Library, a third of those with side hustles would end this commitment if their full-time employer increased their salary; so having an open discussion about income and additional support could help to relieve the pressure.

2. Be mindful of any changes to performance 

Monitoring team and individual progress should already be a task that’s undertaken regularly by management, with weekly 1-2-1 meetings and more formal reviews to discuss progress. For this reason, line managers should know if performance starts to drop and whether this correlates with an employee’s activities outside of work. For example, they may come to work exhausted or show a lack of interest in their main job by attending meetings late or skipping deadlines.

If this is the case, then action is necessary as soon as possible because it will start to impact the business. Action includes a more formal discussion to touch on working time regulations and ensure the employee is resting enough, as well as putting a plan in place moving forward to establish a healthy work-life balance and figure out whether management can offer further wellbeing support.

3. Build a company based on trust 

Making immediate decisions based on emotions such as suspicion is likely to damage employee relations, with the risk of alienating the individual in the workplace. Good management is built on trust and if an employee’s side hustle is having zero impact on business, then you need to ask why it should be viewed as a problem. Establishing trust in the workplace will help to encourage team collaboration and innovation, as well as drive loyalty to the company. 

4. Aim to support the aspirations and development of employees

Supporting and encouraging an employee with a side hustle is the most positive response for all involved. As a result, the employee will be happier and most likely, more focused and inspired in their main job; adopting a fresh perspective and challenging processes. Management should make time to understand what skills the employee is developing from their side hustle and see whether any of these practices could benefit the company. 

Following this advice will not only show support to employees who have a passion outside of work, but it will also prevent any harm being caused to the business; giving both an equal opportunity to grow and succeed.  

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