How you could benefit from employees who have side gigs

Margaret Paton

As a small business you may be employing a mix of full-timers, part-timers, contractors, casuals and freelancers. A fair few of those would probably have a side hustle job, too.

Do you have a policy and procedures about secondary employment? Perhaps you could be more upfront with your workers about how it may boost your business and maybe theirs.

“I don’t see it as a conflict, although I know a lot of clients may see it as a conflict."

Make it work both ways

Founder and Director of creative and advertising industry recruitment agency Agency Iceberg, Anna O’Dea, says she embraces the idea of her staff having a side hustle. She opened her startup in May 2014 in Melbourne, has three full-timers on staff and six freelancers. In November, she was a finalist in the Optus MyBusiness Workplace Of The Year Award.

“Staff having a side hustle is a real positive. I don’t see it as a conflict, although I know a lot of clients may see it as a conflict. You have to assess it case by case,” she says.

One of O’Dea’s full-timers is an entrepreneur in her own right running a streetwear label.

“During business time it’s my time and outside it’s your time.”

“She understands about running it outside my business and how important it is to meet her business’s deadlines, getting products out on time, delivering the right clothing, customer service. It shows she’s independent and has the same mindset as I do,” she says.

“You’ve got to make it clear during the interview process, you respect during business time it’s my time and outside it’s your time to do your side hustle. We manage expectations. They don’t need to shut down their business.”

Tap into new networks

Far from it for O’Dea who’s found she’s been able to tap into the “younger millennial network” of her entrepreneurial staffer such as through social media.

“This is generating income for my business by tapping into that network I wouldn’t have had.”

“She’s able to engage with them because they trust her, so in turn they trust me as she posts on her streetwear page about what she’s doing about work, our work events. They’re now coming to me and applying for our jobs and it’s building a whole new network of talent and referrals which leads to placements and that leads to money for business,” says O’Dea.

“This is generating income for my business by tapping into that network I wouldn’t have had.”

It’s a two-way street as Agency Iceberg is sponsoring her employee’s social media page too.

Managing those who side hustle for you

Meanwhile, the situation’s flipped for Monique Brasher, Regional Director at the Melbourne office of The General Assembly (GA), part of a global education community that helps startups and entrepreneurs with technology, business and design. She manages a cohort of instructors who do that job as a side hustle while holding down a full-time job, such as in their own business, elsewhere.

“Our values are helping people pursue the work they love – it hasn’t gone wrong.”

“It’s huge benefit for GA generally. They are working in the tech space or design space and we can really leverage their network. As well, someone may have a digital agency they’ve started up and they will be able to grow that agency through accessing our live network … and we strongly encourage our instructors to post on their social channels they use,” she says.

“Our values are helping people pursue the work they love – it hasn’t gone wrong. We have an open and courageous conversation early on about these things so we’re supportive of any side hustles people have going on. We encourage people to build their skills so they grow their skills outside GA.

There is some give and take with her employees – not necessarily the instructors – needing some flexibility to finish work early on a particular day to jump onto a business activity, too, she says.

Margaret Paton

Former Sunday Age staff journalist, Margaret Paton (formerly Jakovac) has written widely for corporations/government departments and more than 100 online/hard copy mastheads in regional NSW, Sydney, Melbourne and Europe.

Image: Incase Pop Up Record Shop, Flickr Creative Commons License

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