HR Grapevine: - Are your HR policies embracing side hustlers?

An extract from another interesting article from the team at "HR Grapevine". Click on the link to find our more or register for their regular updates:

As many as one in four UK workers now have a ‘side-hustle’, with that figure expected to grow to 50% by 2030. According to research from Henley Business School, the rise in side hustles – a hobby or outside job that has the potential to bring a secondary income – holds a massive financial benefit: generating £72billion for the UK economy.

However, this changing approach to how people work means HR might need to rewrite the workplace rulebook. Currently, half (49%) of businesses not having a policy on side-working and a further 54% are indifferent to this changing approach to work. As a result, they could be missing out on top talent and real financial benefits. For example, with the average total cost of replacing an employee standing at £30,000, if you’re not letting those employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work – the price of losing them can seriously inflect on the business.

How does side hustling fit into the modern workplace?

Whilst some workplace contracts stipulate that employees must devote 100% to their employer this mindset could be described as out of sync with modern employment norms. HR must stay on top of the changes. The concept of a ‘job for life’ is no longer the prevalent working norm and factors such as the gig economy-style working practises as well as a tangible increase uptake on technologies have made ‘side hustling’ much easier.

“Side hustles are here to stay and this will have huge implications for HR,” said Dr Rita Fontinha, Lecturer in Strategic Human Resources Management at Henley Business School. “Firms need to be flexible to compete in their industries to attract and retail people who are increasingly looking for flexibility, more money and the change to upskill. If employees are unhappy and demotivated and feel that the company does not support their life goals, they are likely to withdraw.”

Danny Harmer, Chief People Officer at MetroBank agrees – advising that businesses need to adapt and realise the benefits of having side hustlers on board. She said that some employees were hired at the bank purely because of an activity or out-of-work venture.

The benefits are multifold

She talked through an example whereby a candidate who applied for a training position was asked ‘what makes you think you could be a good trainer?’ When she told the interviewer that she tutored Maths every weekend, they gave her a chance. She added that another employee in the senior leadership team is a stand-up comedian outside of work. “Now if you’re looking for someone who can engage a room, then that’s brilliant,” she said. “The transferable skills people bring in and learn through a side-hustle can really benefit an organisation. They can also help candidates get a better job.”

However, before side hustlers can be embraced, cultural change is required. Stephen Manderson, award winning British rapper and songwriter, also known as Professor Green, said that company policies that disallow employees to have a side hustle outside of work risk harming productivity. “There can be a damaging effect of those policies: not that you just lose workers but they can become very unhappy,” he said.

Harmer agreed: “Policies are the fall back on why conversations don’t work. I think some organisations make it very clear that they want you to be focused just on the job.”

But the benefit to the company is clear. Side-hustling employees are not just engaging in extra-curricular activities for financial reasons – seven in ten do it to make life more interesting. The same percentage also feel positive about juggling both their main employment and a side-hustle. Harmer adds that a business can only benefit if staff are happier as a result.

"The transferable skills people bring in and learn through a side-hustle can really benefit an organisation. They can also help candidates get a better job." Danny Harmer, MetroBank

Why is this a policy issue?

Whilst the Metro Bank HR guru acknowledges that all reasonable employment contracts will contain something around conflicts of interest, and she would never support anyone in the organisation who wanted to pursue something that detracted from their main employment, she nevertheless believes that firms should be checking if their policies are unnecessarily stringent against those who want to do something else around their main job.

“If employers have got a clause which says you are not allowed to have any other employment they just need to have a look at why that exists, whether or not it is reasonable, whether or not it is actually enforceable,” she says. “Bearing in mind that side hustles does not always involve income, if it’s something your people are passionate about, why on earth would you not want someone to be involved in charities, or are school governors?”

She advises that HR should instead have guidelines and ask staff to be sensible with the out-of-work hustle as well as being prepared to have an adult conversation.

Only then can the skills of side hustlers be allowed to flourish in the workplace.

Holly Gregory Associates provides HR Consultancy and Change Management Services. We are known as trusted advisers, and provide specialist HR management advice to help your business maximise the efficiency of your HR Operations. We will work with you to implement appropriate new policies and procedures in the best way possible. As experienced change agents wesupport you by delivering your HR changes by providing qualified HR Transformation and Restructuring Project Managers. Our Change Managers come with the knowledge of change methodologies. It may also be that you need is for our specialist HR Services e.g Outsourcing your HR, support writing or creating Policies and Procedures, HR support with redundancies due to a Merger and Acquisition and TUPE, or help to ensure compliance of your assessments with the up and coming IR35 Private Sector reforms.