We’re living in the age of the side hustle. Millennials, in particular, are increasingly taking on additional projects alongside their main source of income.
The trend of having a side hustle alongside your main job appears to be a global one. In the USA, a recent Bankrate report found that more than 37 percent of US adults have a side hustle. This figure rose to 50 percent for millennials.
In the UK, Henley Business School has found that nearly twenty-five percent of workers run a side hustle business.
There are many reasons people are turning to side hustles. In the most positive examples, people pursue a side hustle because it allows them to pursue something they love. Rhea Cambridge told the BBC she is a side hustler. By day she helps people with social housing, but by night she is on the decks playing afrobeats, house and funk.
While she acknowledges it isn’t always easy, Rhea’s side hustle has enabled her to pursue something she’s always wanted to do.
But a side hustle isn’t only about creating a creative outlet.
Today young people are simultaneously grappling with an increasingly unaffordable housing market and unprecedentedly high levels of post-education debt. This is creating an environment where side hustles aren’t only a more financially viable way to pursue a hobby or passion but are, increasingly, a financial necessity.
These pressures are most keenly felt by millennials, who are also starting their working lives in a period of great uncertainty and high job insecurity. For some, side hustles are ways to plant the seeds of an alternative career in response to job insecurity.
Film-maker Slavik Boyechko told Experian, “Maybe it’s because we millennials have been let down by so many false hopes, or because we haven’t had the experience of long-term stability like the previous generations had, but we know now to never assume what’s good today will be good tomorrow.”
Despite being an Emmy-award winning filmmaker at the top of a PBS filmmaking career path, a sense of growing job insecurity led Boyechko to begin two online businesses as side hustles with a friend – one of which he now says has “become our main gig”.
The internet – from online crowdsourcing or freelancing platforms to social media as a marketing tool – is making it increasingly possible for would-be entrepreneurs to start businesses as side projects.
The challenge now is for employers to respond to these changing attitudes to work held by their millennial workforce.
Professor Chris Brooks, Professor of Finance and Director of Research at Henley Business School says, “Business leaders can also see the benefits of their employees engaging in a side hustle: 60 percent agreed staff are happier if they are able to pursue their side projects and passions, while two thirds believe employers must adapt in order to retain their best people. Indeed, almost half of business leaders claim to have a side hustle of their own.”
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