Not Your Grandfather’s Workforce: Generation Z and the Side Hustle

Not Your Grandfather’s Workforce: Generation Z and the Side Hustle

Written by: Maddie Renneke, Tunheim

They are more tech savvy than millennials. They are more liberal than you were at their age. They don’t know high school without Instagram and have never been on MySpace. They crave authenticity and can see right through you when you fake it. We think of them as teens, but they are also our college students and members of our workforce.

Generation Z is made up of the young people you raised, taught, or babysat, who are now your interns, assistants, and entry-level help. Gen Z is highly educated and very hardworking. However, there are some things you should know about the people you are employing:

  • They are competitive. Where Millennials see their coworkers as people to collaborate with, Gen Z sees them as people to compete with to get to the top. While Millennials thrive in open work environments, Gen Z is fighting for the corner office.
  • They don’t want a work/life balance, they demand work/life blend. They are fine with you emailing them at 9:00 pm. They have the Outlook app and will get right back to you; however, this means you need to forgive them for sending personal texts during work.
  • They probably have another job. An increased amount of those entering the workforce will have “Side Hustles” to supplement their income.

17 percent of Gen Z would like to start their own business (vs. 11 percent of millennials) and 75 percent of them wish they could turn their hobby into a full-time job.

Gen Z experts David and Jonah Stillman define the Side Hustle as “the idea of having your own side business while still being gainfully employed.” They credit the rise in Side Hustles to the availability of resources to Gen Z as well as their entrepreneurial spirit.

To many employers, a Side Hustle is a red flag. They may jump to conclusions that an employee with a second job is disengaged in their work or not interested in their career long-term. However, this isn’t the case with Gen Z. The reality is that they don’t want to limit themselves to exploring just one of their interests. They are also doing everything they can to pay off their student loans.

We spoke with David and Jonah about their research and findings with Gen Z and the Side Hustle, and they are very strongly of the opinion that employers need to support their employees in their after-hours work, as long as it does not compete with their business. To Gen Z, the work they are doing on the side is important, and if their employer won’t support them, they may go find someone else who will. If their employer goes out of their way to help promote their Side Hustle, Jonah says, “it might be the best recruitment and retention tool companies have.”

Tunheim Consultant, Nick Marcouiller, has a side hustle that he says helps him stay inspired and creative.

He helps run an art space in Northeast Minneapolis that is available to local bands, musicians, and dancers as a rehearsal and performance space.  According to Nick, “At first, I was worried about adding a commitment outside of work hours. Would I have enough time and energy to fulfill both responsibilities? But I’ve found my work at Tunheim is enhanced by my work with local artists because I am constantly exposed to exciting new ideas that I can bring back for our clients.”

At Tunheim, we have made an effort to support endeavors like Nick’s side gig. We know that new experiences mean new perspectives and that is something we always welcome. We are also thinking ahead: the next generation and their Side Hustles are a package deal. If businesses are too rigid to support them in their after-hours work, they will be turning away some of the best talent out there.

If your intern takes wedding pictures on the weekend or your new assistant is freelance writing on her lunch break, we suggest you support and encourage it. Generation Z is not going to take “no” for an answer when it comes to their side hustle, so embracing it and allowing them to have a healthy work/life blend will enable you to recruit and retain hard working and multi-faceted employees.

[Original Post: Not Your Grandfather’s Workforce: Generation Z and the Side Hustle]

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