Shauna Lewis
Mar 27, 2022

Should employers support their employees’ side hustles?

While employers’ support may encourage loyalty and innovation, what is the potential impact on mental health?

Uzma Afridi, Ben Mooge. Middle: Julian Douglas. Right (from top to bottom): Patrick Affleck, Pippa Glucklic
Uzma Afridi, Ben Mooge. Middle: Julian Douglas. Right (from top to bottom): Patrick Affleck, Pippa Glucklic

This April, Havas Media Group will launch its side-hustle training programme, titled the Meaningfully Daring Side Hustle Launchpad.

Supporting employees' endeavours encourages loyalty, said programme co-ordinator Tia Castagno, an ex-Dentsu executive. Havas will also give employees 10% of their working hours to complete the course and work on their business thereafter.

How is your open office policy going?

It makes sense; staff are more likely to stay in an environment that champions them as individuals, encourages creativity and respects their autonomy outside of the workplace. Not only that, the company they work for is actively helping them develop skills they wouldn't learn otherwise.

From that angle, it seems like a win-win. But, in an industry claiming to put a focus on mental health, should extra work be encouraged? A business launch requires some serious hours put into it outside of the 9-5, and although it pushes some to brilliance, it could push others to breaking point.

Campaign put the question to members of the industry to see what they thought.

Patrick Affleck
Chief executive, Havas Media Group

We’re building a culture that promotes entrepreneurial thinking and innovation, not to mention a can-do mindset to make it happen. Programmes like Side Hustle Launchpad allow people to explore ideas (and indeed themselves as individuals), making them more confident in what they do and in what they can bring to the agency. Of course, if these side hustles add something relevant and of strategic value to our own business, all the better.

Also, in the context of The Great Resignation, initiatives like this are a great way to attract and retain the best talent, as they help us continue to demonstrate we care about our people and will support them as they develop in their careers. The tech giants have been doing things like this for an age, and it’s about time agencies did too.

Julian Douglas
International chief executive & vice-chairman, VCCP Group

How times have changed. Seventeen years ago I was fired from TBWA for having a side hustle when Jonny Shaw and I set up Lucky Voice Private Karaoke. The MD at the time thought it was a distraction, telling me: “You care more about your own business than your client's business.” Today, it can seem you’re not a complete person unless you have a side hustle!

I love side hustles; I’ve always got a few on the go. I encourage people to pursue active interests outside of the day job, whether a hobby, a passion or a business idea.

However, a couple of words of warning. First, beware of burnout. Most people in the industry today are already working flat out, so doing something on top can be a bit too much. Second, to really make a side hustle fly, it might need to become more than that – even brilliant ideas take a lot of work, focus and dedication to become reality. If the idea is good enough you may find you need to leave the day job. So maybe the MD was right after all!

Pippa Glucklich
Chief executive, Electric Glue

On the face of it, this looks like a ticklish question – and the worry for employers is that this could create diminished loyalties and potential conflicts of interest. But to me, it's a no brainer – yes, absolutely, employers should be supportive (and maybe even go as far as investing in said side hustles!). 

All of us I expect will have a version of a ‘side hustle’ – perhaps not a commercial business, but it could be charitable work, a passion project for example – that makes us more thoughtful, more rounded and more diverse as a result. In an industry where ideas are our currency, having a stimulus that makes us look at the world through a different and broader lens can only be a good thing. Being openly supported and encouraged in this by our employers will be beneficial on every level – not just for us as individuals and our mental wellbeing but for our ideas, our colleagues, our clients and ultimately of course, the businesses we work for. 

Uzma Afridi
Head of careers, Nabs

Many people in our industry have side hustles, and it benefits both teams and managers when employers recognise this in a positive way. Employers who offer “side hustle training” might find that this boosts their teams’ confidence, skills and loyalty to the business as well as creating an entrepreneurial mindset. This can all benefit the organisation as well as the individual, especially if people working at all levels in the business can access support.

However, it’s essential that employers prioritise wellbeing here. There is a risk that anybody working a side hustle on top of their day job can experience stress, exhaustion and other symptoms that ultimately lead to burnout. To mitigate this, make sure that employees are given time out of their working day to study or work on their side hustle and that they are allowed to work flexibly in order to accommodate their different priorities.

Ben Mooge
Chief creative officer, Publicis Groupe UK

Side-hustle. I’ve always found the term slightly too pleased with itself. Like it’s worth more than the other thing. “I’ve got my main casual stroll, and over here my side hustle.”

Celebrate creativity, regardless of the after-hours or weekend context you might carve out to make something. Hustle equally hard on every project.

As an employer of course, we support any further extensions of creativity or business. How is it not a win-win to work with someone who’s got a constantly hungry and experimental mind, who’s interested in things above and beyond the call of duty?

When they turn up for work, they don’t leave all of that at the door. Everyone brings every side of them into every new project, all their learnings and instincts, so it’s for everyone’s benefit. Just don’t spread yourself too thin, and get enough sleep.

Campaign UK

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