How to manage employees with side hustles outside of work

Working during a pandemic has led to all sorts of changes to the typical work day. Employees have had more flexibility than ever before with remote working, and in some respects, more time too – enabling them to log on and clock off at various points throughout the day, as well as saving time on the daily commute, and hours spent socialising with colleagues after work.

With this added time, some employees have exercised more or enjoyed quality time with family members; others however, have continued to work – but on a business venture outside of their main job.

It’s been revealed that as many as 25% of employees in the UK have a side hustle outside of work. Employee side projects can take the form of a second job, freelancing or a new business entirely and this way of earning a second income has become increasingly popular amongst business-savvy millennials.

“Managing employees with side hustles is a delicate situation for employers to deal with and by handling it wrong, companies could risk losing their best talent. Making the right business choices will not only benefit the employer and wider company, but also the aspiring employee,”  explains Julie Lock, commercial director at workforce management solutions provider Mitrefinch.

Here are some steps to take to successfully manage employees with side hustles:

Encourage open communication 

Whilst in most cases there is not an obligation to inform an employer if an employee has a second job, some employers do restrict their employees from working elsewhere via a clause in their contract. It can, therefore, be helpful for both sides (the employer and the employee) to be transparent if an employee is looking for work outside of their 9-5 job. Open and honest communication is vital in these early stages and it may be helpful if an initial meeting is arranged to discuss the logistics, if the employee is unsure of their rights. Not only to eliminate any company issues that could arise such as competition or burnout, but also to show a genuine interest.

If necessary, it could be beneficial for management to ask why the employee started up this side hustle in the first place. It may be a case of simply pursuing a new business idea that they feel passionate about, or it may reveal that actually they are in need of additional income for further financial support. According to CV-Library, a third of those with side hustles would consider giving it up if their full-time employer increased their salary. Therefore having these open discussions could identify problems within the business, and lead to some improvements being made to better support employees.

Check in on performance

Checking in on employee work performance isn’t necessarily an additional task to complete in response to their side hustle project, because it’s likely that management are already doing this to ensure company targets are being met. If employers start to notice signs of an employee being disengaged in their tasks at work, increasingly tired or attendance is poor, then action is necessary.

It will be important to take action if an employee’s activities outside of work start to impact their performance during work, and a more formal discussion should be had around working time regulations, for example (ensuring employees are resting enough and making use of their lunch breaks, annual leave, etc.). It is still the responsibility of the employer to check-in and put processes in place to protect the wellbeing of employees, even if they have employment outside of their main job.

Establish trust in the workplace

The worst response any employer could have is to shut down the side hustle of an employee, be that out of panic or suspicion. Establishing trust is crucial in the workplace and good management is built on trust (and having confidence) in employees. Not only that, but trust helps to support teamwork and collaboration in the workplace, which in turn will boost staff morale and willingness to stay with a company.

If employers are uncomfortable with an employee who has a side hustle (and it isn’t jeopardising business), then it’s likely this type of behaviour from management level will cause a hostile work environment and could end up isolating the employee, impacting their mental health.

Support employee success and development 

The best way to respond to an employee with a side hustle is to offer them support and encouragement. Often, these employees are happier and more productive at work as a result and are developing valuable entrepreneurial skills in the process. It’s worth considering which of the skills they are practising outside of work can actually be implemented in their main job too, having the potential to benefit the company directly. Strong management is established by keeping the best interests of the employee in mind at all times and any concerns should come back to this same core value – rather than personal gain.

By following these steps, employers can implement a fair and clear approach to employees who have side hustles outside of work in a way that both supports their passions whilst ensuring that business continues to thrive.