Growing number of young professionals have a ‘side hustle’

The portfolio career is on the rise, driven by concerns about job security and pay.

Two thirds of professionals under the age of 24yrs claim to have a ‘side hustle’ – with 72% stating it is ‘too risky’ to focus on just having one job as they may have done pre-pandemic.

In a poll undertaken by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters 52% of young Irish professionals expressed a desire for a ‘portfolio career’ – the concept of monetising your skills in several ways and having multiple income sources, rather than a single job at one company.

“A side hustle or portfolio career showcases entrepreneurialism, initiative, innovative thinking, and great project management skills.”

In fact, 54% of young Irish workers have stated that flexible hours and a hybrid working environment is a must when looking for a job – otherwise it will impact their side-hustle.

Side hustlers of the world unite

“Our survey has found that side-hustles are a priority for the next generation – and in some respects employers’ hands are tied given the ongoing candidate shortage and inability to keep salaries in-line with rising inflation and cost of living,” said Suzanne Feeney, country manager at Robert Walters.

“However, this isn’t the way to view it. Portfolio careers have been a go-to for highly experienced and senior professionals who use their knowledge and offer consultancy, training or advisory services when near or post-retirement.”

“For too long, side-jobs for more junior employees have been considered a ‘dirty secret’ or something you should hide from your manager for fear of losing your main job. If viewed through a different lens, a side hustle or portfolio career showcases entrepreneurialism, initiative, innovative thinking, and great project management skills. All characteristics which should be championed by employers.”

“In fact, from our findings we see that 68% of Gen Z professionals state that their employer does meet their career expectations, the highest out of any other age cohort. A side or weekend job does not necessarily mean that an employee is not interested in progressing within their primary job.”

According to the Robert Walters survey of 3,000 Irish professionals, it is 18–24-year-olds (Gen Z) who reported feeling twice as anxious as their more experienced colleagues in the past 18 months around job security, pay, relationships at work, and their mental well-being.

Waiting for pay day

The average graduate salary in Ireland sits at €32,500 per year, whilst those taking entry-level positions can see annual average earnings of €28,000.

“Employers need to be flexible, and leaders must be empathetic that – for some – a side hustle is not just a passion-project but a necessity”

After tax, national insurance and student loan repayments, the average graduate in Ireland can look to be taking

home around €2,279 per month, and those in entry-level positions could see monthly earnings of €2,011.

When we consider this against the current cost-of-living in the capital – it is clear this cohort of young workers are unable to live by themselves, and save money for the future, all whilst adequately investing in a pension for their retirement.

The inability for employers to keep increasing salaries in-line with inflation or cost-of-living means that the young professionals situation is only worsening.

“The traditional values of employees holding one job and being bound by moonlighting clauses in their employment contracts needs to be addressed,” Feeney said. “Employers need to be flexible, and leaders must be empathetic that – for some – a side hustle is not just a passion-project but a necessity.

“I would encourage businesses to have an open mind about their employees’ extra-curricular activities – encouraging them to bring that level of initiative and entrepreneurialism to the workplace.

“Don’t underestimate what value a side-hustle can bring to the day job i.e., a financial advisor having a huge TikTok presence – these skills can be utilised in their day job and become of great value to the company.

“Offer a platform – whether it is allowing them to sell cakes or crafts in the office lobby, host a lunchtime yoga session, or the ability to promote what they do on the intranet or internal notice boards.

“Of course, all of the above needs to be balanced against a strong day-to-day performance at work, offering these opportunities is a privilege that needs to be provided as a result of good employee performance in their day job,” said Feeney.

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.

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