Side hustles might make for better employees

In this posting from the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program, PHD Melbourne's Simon Lawson argues that the rise of second jobs might not be such a bad thing

When was the last time you read your employment contract?

Do you know what the “outside employment” clause says?

Most employment contracts have a clause like this, and for most employees, this clause is designed to prevent them from working for other enterprises or from carrying on their own businesses.

The idea is that your performance might suffer if you are distracted by another enterprise, but I’m starting to wonder whether having a side hustle might actually make for more valuable employees.

To set some context, side hustles have gone mainstream in a big way with more than 44 million Americans reportedly having a side hustle and 1 in 4 Australians recently admitting to having something going on the side. Is that a good or a bad thing for the employers of the world?

The reality is that the employees pursuing side hustles may be among the most dynamic and entrepreneurial a company has: push them out because they have other commercial interests and employers may be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

One firm to have recently embraced the idea that employees with a side hustle are particularly valuable is PwC Australia. According to a recent AFR article, PwC have now waived the previously held condition of employment that their people must shut down other ventures as a matter of course.

Speaking in the AFR, PwC’s digital change leader John Riccio said: “These days, more people have entrepreneurial ventures, especially in the digital space. We’d be cutting ourselves out of a fairly large talent pool if we wanted to own people’s heart and soul.”

I found myself with a sort of side hustle a few years ago following my father’s death: he left me with me some long-neglected business affairs and the journey I went on to successfully close everything out, although starting with sadness, ultimately turned out to be one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done in my working life.

In return for their understanding and flexibility, my employer benefits from the multitude of new skills and perspectives that I picked up along the way and, at the same time, has generated a huge amount of loyalty from me. I couldn’t have done it without their support and I won’t be forgetting that any time soon.

Of course, there’s always a risk in letting employees pursue a side hustle.

You’re going to lose a few, no doubt.

And there will be some that take advantage of the trust given to them.

These are some of the same challenges faced by employers who offer flexible working hours and the ability to work from home: In the end, it gets down to trust.

Do you trust your people, or don’t you?

Maybe it’s not for everyone, and there can be no blanket rules.

Employers should have honest conversations with their people. After all, an employee who arrives at work exhausted from driving for Uber all night is a far less palatable proposition than someone in the midst of building a new economy business and putting their newfound skills into practice for the benefit of their employer.

Personally, I think PwC have got the right idea.

People with a diverse experience of the business world, including those with the courage to put some of their own money down in pursuit of a dream, are the type of people you want working for you in today’s fast-changing commercial world.

These are the people with the growth mindset that is so often thought of as highly desirable in the corporate world today. They’re the people who are prepared to step outside of their comfort zone and learn new skills. The people ready to challenge the status quo and change things for the better.

Put simply, I think it’s worth the risk to embrace employees with a side hustle – not because employers have to, but because they’re worth it.

What do you think?

Please share your thoughts on this topic in the comments section below.

Simon Lawson is general manager at PHD Melbourne

This article is part of the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program. See more from the program by clicking on the banner below.

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