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What are “Quit Quitters” Doing with all their Free Time? You Might Be Surprised

Last summer, employers learned a new workplace term, “Quit Quitting,” which is defined by many as doing the least amount of work possible while keeping your current job.  For some employers, the concept of Quiet Quitting seemed to spread like wildfire through their Millennial and Gen Z workforces.  Productivity waned and management became frustrated with worker output.  In many instances, those workers who could get away with it, did. 

The logical question employers were left to ask is, what are Gen Z and Millennials doing with all their free time while Quiet Quitting? 

Being Lazy, Maybe Not

Many employers suspected these workers were simply being lazy – a reputation that Gen Z and Millennials have yet to shake, but could it be something else entirely?  Enter the side hustle!

Side hustles are nothing new and don’t come with a catchy phrase like Quiet Quitting; however, they are on the rise. Employers should be on the lookout and understand why they are becoming increasingly popular with the younger working generations.  In the past, side hustles were viewed by many as nothing more than working on a passion project in the evenings after work or a way to get ahead financially.  In today’s reality, side hustles are an essential part of life for millions of Americans and are necessary to pay bills and stay afloat.

A recent study conducted by Deloitte showed that 46% of the Gen Z workers and 37% of Millennial workers who were polled indicated they have worked a second job in tandem with their main job, including sometimes working a second full time job.

A second study conducted by online financial services provider Bankrate.com closely mirrored the results found by Deloitte. Bankrate.com calculated that approximately 39% of employed Americans were working a second job which earns them on average an extra $810 per month.

Think your Business is Immune?

None of us are immune.  A few years back I had a former employee (we’ll call her Liz) who had a side hustle that overlapped with her primary job.  During the COVID pandemic shutdown Liz was working as an Uber Eats delivery driver in the middle of the day (when she should have been exclusively working for her employer).  How did her employer find out?  One day our COO ordered lunch for his homeschooling children, imagine his surprise when Liz showed up to deliver the food.  It turns out Liz had purchased software to make it appear she was using her work computer while she was actually picking up and delivering food for Uber Eats.  No tip for you, you’re fired!

What will be shocking to most readers is that Liz was 28 years old with an MBA and was earning a low six figure salary from her primary employer.  She took on her side hustle because she needed extra money to pay off her student loans and to save up to move out of her parents’ house.  It turns out Liz had a second side hustle, ghost writing highly technical blogs for a Medical Website. Liz probably doesn’t fit the perception you had when you first heard about Millennials’ Quiet Quitting to take on side hustles.  That’s the point.  The reality is a lot of people are doing it, even those who you would never suspect.

Popular side hustles include freelance writing, selling items online, delivery drivers and rideshare.  However, a growing number of workers are turning to applications like ChatGPT to help them with their main job as well as their side hustles.  Imagine if you had an employee who could use ChatGPT to perform 75% of her job’s core functions and all she had to do was edit ChatGPT’s output before submitting it to her boss. 

Do you think that employee would now have enough time to hold down a second job?  What if that second job was with your competitor?

Most employers will speak out against employees having side gigs believing it shows lack of dedication; however, what if having a side hustle was the only way for your employees to keep their jobs with you and stay financially secure in these uncertain, high-inflationary times? Or if it was the only way for your lower-earning workers to keep up with the cost of living.

Side hustles are not going anywhere, and employers should expect greater proliferation of them.  So instead of cracking down and trying to eliminate them entirely from your workforce, perhaps it is time to rethink how we as managers deal with this new reality.  At the very least, owners and HR professionals should review their Employee Handbooks to review how their company has historically dealt with these types of situations.  Perhaps it is time to revisit an antiquated policy.  But first, decide how you want to address this growing trend and if you can afford to enforce your desired new rule. If you need help, we are here to assist.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.