Should You Let Your Employees Run a Side Hustle?

A coffee mug with the words: Go Get Em. Perfect for side hustles.

You’ve heard it before: The working world totally changed over the course of the pandemic. With employees who have more time without commutes, increased flexibility, and an uncertain economy, people are turning to side hustles. During unstable times, any extra income is more than welcome, but side hustles can mean much more than that — they can also be an outlet for creativity and a means to let off steam. I’ve seen everything from getting a real estate license to selling handmade jewelry to landscape design — hustles that vary in time commitment, skill levels, and profitability. 

As an employer, a side hustle might seem threatening. And sure, it could eat into working time or cause distractions. But here’s the thing about being a boss: If you don’t treat your employees as whole people with complex lives outside of work, you risk losing them

Worse, you run the risk of losing employees with the most vision and drive. Because that is exactly what side hustling takes. So, should you allow your employees to have side hustles outside of work? 

The short answer: Yes. 

The long answer? Let’s get into it.

I’m a big advocate of side hustles — with guidelines. It’s more than reasonable to require that employees disclose their other jobs and that they work within parameters that you can set together, e.g.:

  • Side hustles shouldn’t pose competition to a full-time job: A copywriter at your company can’t write copy for your competitor. 
  • Employees will run any potential conflicts/competition by you before accepting the work.
  • Side hustles must happen outside of working hours and can’t take time away from work getting done. 


It’s a matter of trust on both sides: You’ll trust them to manage their workloads, and they’ll trust you to let them follow their passions outside of work.


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How Can Side Hustles Help Your Business?

Allowing your employees to pursue side hustles comes with plenty of benefits for your company and bottom line. Here are just a few to consider.


They shake things up.

 In my experience, side hustles lead to more creativity among employees. It makes sense: They’re working different muscles as they pursue outside interests and solve different kinds of problems than they do at their full-time jobs. It keeps their brains active, like doing different kinds of puzzles every day.


They build more skills and experience.

Take our Director of Marketing. Outside of work, she runs her own yoga business. She’s using social media to build her brand, and flexing marketing skills for a totally different business than ours has given her tons of new ideas and skills. We see the results every day and we totally benefit from her outside experience. 


Side hustles can help you hire.

From a hiring perspective, allowing — and even encouraging — side hustles can give you a major competitive edge, which is especially powerful given that HR professionals everywhere are struggling to fill positions. Think of it as a benefit you can offer to prospective employees, and I would even go a step further. Why not offer mentoring services to your employees to help them run their businesses? It’s a way to honor your employee as someone with goals and needs that exist outside the workplace.


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How Can Employers Support Side Hustles?

In an effort to make your employees feel seen as people and not just workers, employers can encourage support around employees’ extracurricular activities. Many companies actually encourage side hustling. Some even allot time during all-hands meetings for employees to introduce their side hustles in mini-presentations. A friend runs a cooking business, and when she presented it at work, her whole team placed orders to support her!


Make sure your employees are prioritizing rest.

One thing to keep in mind is a concern about rest. I worry about employees over-exerting themselves, and as an employer, I want to maintain the health and safety of my team. I suggest regular check-ins with employees (a good idea even if employees don’t have a side hustle!) to make sure they’re taking care of themselves and prioritizing their well-being.


Communicate any concerns as they arise.

If an employee starts to drop the ball on their work, it’s time to have a conversation with them about scaling back on their side hustle.


Listen, listen, and listen.

When it comes to running a company, I’m a big proponent of listening to your employees, making them feel heard, and valuing their contributions. What I hear from my employees is that work at Star Staffing is just one part of their life, and I’m more than happy to support their other passions and pursuits. Together, we’ve set guidelines to make their side hustles for them and for our company, and we’ve all seen the benefits. Supporting our employees inside of work and outside of work while getting to work with more creative, more fulfilled individuals? That’s a win for all of us.