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What to do about an employee with a side hustle

Written by Peter Jones on .

Peter JonesPeter JonesThe day has come when you find out that an employee has something on the side.

Your impulse reaction might be one of surprise and raise questions such as, 'How long has this been going on?' or 'Aren’t we enough for you?'.

Then you return to earth and remember that your employees do have free time outside of work to spend as they wish.

And with today’s technology providing them with the tools and opportunities to set-up shop and self-promote, why wouldn’t they consider adding another string to their financial bow?

Having a side hustle, as the practice is more commonly known, is catching on. A recent survey by Henley Business School suggested as many as 25 percent of all UK adults now have some kind of side hustle alongside their regular employment.

So even if only one employee has declared their passion for another project, it’s fair to assume there may be a few others who are thinking about doing the same.

Naturally you may be wondering what this might mean for your business and the future of your workforce.

For example, issues can arise if a side hustle starts encroaching on regular work. A conflict of interest will be a real problem.

But on the plus side, an employee with diverse enthusiasm could breathe new life into an existing project or department of yours, if you embrace it and give them the opportunity. It may even satisfy a desire of theirs to look elsewhere or start out on their own.

A good way to protect yourself and communicate your expectations to your employees is to have a policy in place which addresses work on the side. In your policy, you will want to consider the following:

  • Protection of your assets A data breach can do serious damage to your business. Your policy should make it clear that your customer data, trade secrets and any other sensitive business information is strictly confidential and a breach of this could result in legal action. You will also want to add that company hardware and software is for official business use only and that activity can be monitored.
  • Encouragement of openness Through encouraging an open and honest culture you can request that your employees declare any other work or projects that they have committed to. Let them know that you are keen to find out more about their interests to see if these can be incorporated into their primary role.
  • Time spent working When they are onsite for work, or have clocked on, it is to carry out the work which you have agreed upon. If it becomes apparent that side hustle activity is seeping into their work days for you and distracting them from their tasks at hand, disciplinary procedures will follow.

Ultimately an employee displaying an entrepreneurial spirit can end up doing wonders for your business if managed correctly. Keep the communication flowing to handle conflict and ask us about how to implement your policy today.

Peter Jones runs the HR Dept in Swindon and Wiltshire www.hrdept.co.uk/offices/south-west/swindon