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A new study suggests growing numbers are resorting to running a business or another job alongside their main employment.
A quarter of people in the UK are running at least one business project alongside their main day job, according to a new study by Henley Business School.
Its study of over 500 business leaders and 1,100 UK adults found the ‘side hustle’ trend, an import from New York and Silicon Valley, is now happening at an unprecedented pace across the UK.
A side hustle is a secondary business or job that brings in, or has potential to bring in, extra income. Henley estimates that side hustles bring in £72 billion to the UK economy.
It says 73% of people who start a side hustle do so to follow a passion or explore a new challenge, but the side businesses also contribute an average of 20% to side hustlers’ income.
Despite a quarter of these side hustlers working a 50-hour week, the study found they feel happier and more content in their main role and as many as 69% said side hustles make life feel more interesting.
The report says 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 is exponential, 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.
Just over half of business leaders are not sure about the benefits of the practice, but those business leaders who are supportive of the trend see several: 49% feel it helps to retain their best people, while half of business leaders said that allowing the practice helps them attract top talent. Over half (60%) feel that it makes their people more productive and happier. Over half of employers have no formal policy around side hustles.
Professor Bernd Vogel, Founding Director of the Henley Centre for Leadership, says: “With 25% of adults side-hustling today, there is no way back. Those who have the appetite and confidence to go it all alone as an entrepreneur, will not let the chance slip. We can expect growth in side-hustling, possibly even doubling, in the next 10 years, especially if Human Resources in organisations makes side-hustling an element of its toolkit and facilitates outside and internal side hustles as instruments for purpose, rewards and innovation.”
Naeema Pasha, Director of Careers, Henley Business School, adds: “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.