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Portfolio Careers and ‘Side Hustles’

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) recently found that 320,500 self-employed people now have two or more jobs

Does this rise of the ‘slashie’ signal a more creative autonomous way of working, or are multiple jobs a sign that people are struggling to make ends meet? And how should employers respond?

Stephan Gerschewski, lecturer in international business and strategy at Henley Business School University of Reading, says:

“Portfolio careers have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Research from Henley found that one in four employees in the UK have a ‘side hustle’, which is consistent with the IPSE findings. The motives for starting one can be grouped into two broad categories: pay or passion.

“It is important to better understand the motives as studies have shown that ‘passion’ for portfolio careers can translate into higher likelihoods of success. In addition, people with portfolio careers can become more productive in their main workplaces, as they often tend to be happier and more fulfilled when they’re able to pursue their passion in their ‘free time’ away from their main jobs.

“The response from employers is mixed. While some prohibit another job others tend to adopt more flexible and employee-friendly policies. Open and transparent HR policies about portfolio careers can foster more supportive corporate cultures, which in turn can positively influence motivation, happiness and, ultimately, productivity.”

Jo Taylor, founder and MD of Let’s Talk Talent and former director of talent management at TalkTalk, says:

“As someone who started their business four years ago to have more freedom, autonomy and variety, I think that if we are seeing people having to take multiple jobs to survive then we should be extremely concerned.

“It is definitely true that we have seen a rise in self-employment in the past five years, especially among Generation Z – for whom the thought of working in large organisations is less appealing.

“However, what I would like to see is more businesses embracing the gig economy and committing to empower, trust and engage their people. This could create a thriving entrepreneurial economy as seen across Europe.

“The world of work is changing at such a fast pace. We need to create opportunities not barriers for future talent so people can express their creativity, and so we can develop a generation of people not stifled by unnecessary rules and bureaucracy. This will develop and attract an agile talent economy and mindset for the UK.”

Chloe Jepps, deputy head of research at IPSE, says:

“There is no doubt that work is changing and self-employment is the big winner. More than one in seven of the working population is now self-employed (over 1.2 million more than 10 years ago). This rise is driven by highly-skilled freelancers, particularly senior-level women.

“The internet has enabled people to be more confident pursuing ideas or dreams; either full time or alongside a traditional job.

“Numerous pieces of research show that nearly everyone who becomes self-employed does so for positive reasons. These microbusinesses are naturally innovative and creative, boosting the UK economy.

“Like any change this brings challenges for employers, who may be concerned that their employee is distracted by their side hustle. It requires careful management but there are huge advantages – the employee is likely to be happier and will develop skills that they can bring back into the workplace.”

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at Peninsula, says:

“Having multiple jobs is likely to reflect the greater need for flexibility in modern lives – especially with Millennials focusing more on their personal commitments and wellbeing than their professional life. Technology, working patterns, and the ability to complete paid ‘gigs’ all help employees who wish to structure their working lives in a pattern that suits them. While you can submit a statutory flexible working request once you complete 26 weeks’ service, this is unlikely to allow individuals to switch on and off from work as they require. Having a number of jobs for specific hours over the working week provides this opportunity.

“Employers need to meet their working time responsibilities for each employee, which can be affected by the work being done for other businesses. Ask employees to let you know about other work so they can monitor weekly hours and rest periods. Also keep an eye on the employee’s wellbeing and watch out for signs of overwork or stress as this will need to be actioned, with additional support offered if this is the case.”


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