Passion, Purpose… Burnout? The Challenges and Opportunities of Side-Hustling

side hustle

Recently, we published a white paper on the Side Hustle Economy. In it, we talk about the fact that one in four workers in the UK now have a “side hustle” – an activity which allows you to create an additional stream of income without giving up the security of a full-time job – and the number is expected to increase to half of the population in the next decade or so.

With the advance of digital and communication technology, employees now have the opportunity to embrace one or more outside passions such as creating their own business, starting a charitable project etc. According to our research, whereas some organisations might perceive side-hustling as a threat to staff engagement, many have experienced a boost to employee productivity, commitment, innovation and well-being.

So flexible working arrangements should not only be put into place to allow employees to fulfil personal responsibilities but to allow for side-hustling opportunities to create a win-win for employees and employers alike!

When thinking about productivity and well-being, flexible working arrangements sound like a great idea for employees to keep overload and stress levels at bay. But flexible working can also increase stress levels as the individual will have several commitments and might find it hard to completely disconnect from their multiple on-going responsibilities by being constantly available on their smart-phone or laptop.

Indeed our research found that people with side-hustles had a disproportionate work/ life balance when compared with their colleagues with one job. So is there a risk of side-hustlers turning into passionate workaholics? How much work is too much? Might side-hustling indeed be bad for your health? Workaholics often suffer negative health consequences such as high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, heart attacks etc.

But working a lot is not necessarily bad for your health: a recent study found that work engagement or being passionate about your job played a big role in whether long working hours would create negative health consequences. People who work excessively but are engaged in their work do not exhibit the long-term negative health side-effects of workaholics who show low levels of engagement. 69% of side hustlers feel more positive for having two roles.

Side-hustling may be the future of work in the UK, however, we shouldn’t forget that we also have a right to a personal life and that work-life-integration has to be carefully managed because we don’t just get meaning and passion from what we do but also from whom we love and care for.

After all, a sensible work-life balance will only enrich the side-hustlers’ life, with its varied roles and responsibilities.

Dr Caroline Rook

One Comment Add yours

  1. Andrew Humphreys (MBA) says:

    Hi Caroline
    Thanks for sharing this post. I think it is very relevant. The concept of ownership seems very relevant to this. Do we own our work or do our employers?
    It strikes me that the trend in side-hustling is likely to relate to the trend in work systems design that mean people have a lower sense of ownership over their work (mainly because decision-making has become more centralised or automated) and therefore are seeking activities over which they can exercise a greater level of ownership, i.e. a business or charitable enterprise in their “spare” time.
    The problem surely comes in when people don’t have much spare time to begin with due to the rising demands of work and the “always on” culture from pervasive technology.
    It strikes me that this whole topic needs more research because we have been sleepwalking into a new reality in which we have jumped at the chance to improve productivity through the use of technology but without fulling understanding the wider implications this has had on our system of work and life.
    I wonder how often, when they redesign systems of work to incorporate advantageous technology, organisations consider the impact on the experience of the work on those in their system.
    Very best wishes with your ongoing research in this field.


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