Making ends meet | Gen Z side hustles are booming - should HR be worried?

Gen Z side hustles are booming - should HR be worried?

According to data from the Close Brothers Financial Index, money worries are now impacting over three quarters of employees.

It’s easy to see why; UK workers are living in a turbulent and unpredictable economy, with energy prices and the cost of basic amenities seemingly going up every day.

It’s therefore unsurprising that the data found that for two in five workers, the constant threat of not having enough money to get them through to payday is an ‘always on’ anxiety.

However not all workers are equally affected by these woes. And, the solutions they find to overcome their financial burdens varies drastically by age range and demographic. For Gen Z, the solution is simply rethinking what a career looks like, and where their time and effort goes.

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For Gen Z, the solution to supplementing wages has been to take up what is commonly referred to as a ‘side hustle’. These often come in the form of a gig-economy job, such as working for Deliveroo or Uber, but can also take the form of a home-grown business.

This is far from a niche trend, and according to recent data, it’s growing. A September 2022 survey of 4,000 UK workers, from insurance company Royal London, shows 16% of respondents had chosen to take on at least one additional role to help pay for cost-of-living increases.

When we hone in on Gen Z, that number inflates dramatically. A February 2023 global survey of 10,000 workers by Kantar shows that 40% of workers within the age range of 16 to 23 are combining at least two roles.

Should HR be worried about the rise of the side hustle?

Whilst it may be alarming to some within HR to reflect on employees diverting attention elsewhere, Caitlin Duffy, Director of Research at consulting firm Gartner, believes that in the long-term, this will come to define what we consider to be a traditional career path.

“Career paths are becoming less linear,” Duffy recently told the BBC. “Young workers are entering a turbulent work environment. They want to set themselves up for long-term employability, remain flexible and be able to move between workplaces, rather than necessarily stay in one job longer term.”

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This could mean that HR leaders rucking against the trend may find themselves having to embrace the idea that employees are not entirely dedicated to their businesses. It’s also important to note that the side hustle is not born of boredom or dissatisfaction, but instead necessity.

Many workers would happily dedicate their time and effort to a singular company, however with inflation severely impacting even the most skilled workers’ paycheques, and businesses largely unable to simply raise pay across the board, the side hustle may be the only way for younger generations to make ends meet.

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