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A quarter of people in the UK are running at least one business project alongside their main day job, according to a study by Henley Business School.
The School has published a white paper on ‘side hustles’ based on a study of over 500 business leaders and 1,100 UK adults.
A side hustle is a secondary business or job that brings in, or has potential to bring in, extra income. The report says 73% of people who start a side hustle do so to follow a passion or explore a new challenge, but there are financial benefits too, with side businesses contributing 20% to side hustlers’ income.
Despite a quarter of these side hustlers working a 50–hour week – almost 13 hours more than the average UK worker – they report feeling happier and more content in their main role and as many as 69% said side hustles make life feel more interesting, says the study.
It adds that side–hustling is currently more common among men than among women (30% men, 21% women), but women are catching up, with over 62% of side–hustling women having started up in the past two years (versus 48% among side–hustling men).
Henley says one of the reasons for this increasing trend could be a result of a shift in millennial attitudes towards work and advances in technology, which makes it easier for people to run a business from their phone.
Its growth has been very fast, with the study revealing that over half (53%) of the UK’s side businesses were only created in the last two years. Henley anticipates that by 2030 the number of people with side hustles could increase to 50% of the UK population.
Despite its contribution to the UK economy – approximately 3.6% to the UK’s GDP – Henley says the side hustle economy prompts an interesting debate among the business community.
Those business leaders which are supportive of the trend believe there are some big benefits: 49% feel that allowing the practice helps to retain their best people, while half of business leaders said that allowing the practice actually helps them attract top talent.
Over half (60%) feel that it makes their people more productive and happier.
Other benefits include boosting employee skillsets, aiding innovation and building on contact networks. However, Henley calculates that 54% of business leaders remain ambivalent about the benefits to business and over half have no formal policy around it.
According to Henley this complacency could cost UK businesses £340 million a year, if top talent leave to pursue jobs with more supportive, flexible employers.
Naeema Pasha, Director of Careers, Henley Business School, says: “A side hustle gives people a sense of control over their own careers, rather than give all the power of a career to a company.
One reason that people are more at ease with a side hustle than in previous times is the increase in ‘uncertainty’ in the workplace, which makes people create their own path and not rely on a workplace to give regular income and career growth.
Companies that used to offer steady ‘life-long’ careers are no longer offering a security that previous generations experienced.”
Henley has set out a number of recommendations in its white paper to help businesses navigate the new economy.
These include advising businesses to set up a formal policy on side–hustling within employment contracts and encouraging honest dialogue between employer and employee.