Millennials enter the workforce with limitless dreams but limited options for high-paying jobs. Their median household income is about 20 percent less than Baby Boomers earned at a similar stage in their lives, and many Millennials wrestle with staggering student loan debt and skyrocketing healthcare costs.
As dispiriting as this situation might sound, Millennials can kick open the doors of professional opportunity thanks to fast-moving technology advancements that have created countless side hustles. About one-third of workers have a side hustle, according to a CareerBuilder survey of 3,200 private sector workers. Millennials are particularly active in the growing trend, with 44 percent of 25- to 34-year olds and 39 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reporting that they have side gigs.
Side hustles helped make me who I am today. I have never been satisfied with owning only one company or settling on one dream. When I entered the workforce, I was rich with dreams but practically penniless. I hustled my way out of the cellar with grit and fortitude, often taking advantage of opportunities that others brushed aside.
If you ever feel like you have hit a ceiling in your profession, consider sticking with what you know instead of branching out into unfamiliar territory. And do not be afraid to dip into the proverbial basement of your industry to find revenue opportunities. The side hustle surge has been a godsend for young upstarts and savvy entrepreneurs alike.
I tell all my teams to dream big and aim high — and that includes their side hustles. By encouraging professional growth among your employees, you gain the potential of more loyalty and buy-in for your ultimate goals.
I speak from experience, having juggled several side hustles throughout my career. Although I am most publicly visible as the CEO of Zig Ziglar International, I also run several other companies. They all share a foundational model of success, which focuses on disrupting the status quo by offering better alternatives than the competition.
I try to build a buffer into the days of my employees so they can pursue their passions. I encourage them to spend 85 to 90 percent of their days working to earn their pay, but they are free to dedicate the remainder of their working hours to side hustles.
Why do I support this personal work on company time? I am a realist. I understand that my employees will pursue side hustles regardless of what I do, and I would prefer they openly pursue their passions instead of hiding their ambitions. Instead of quashing their creativity and entrepreneurial spirits, it is best to nurture and encourage their dreams.
Leaders who encourage employees to pursue their side hustles can be rewarded for that investment of trust. People gain skills and master new technologies through side hustles, which can end up benefitting their primary employer. If you support a project manager who does graphic design work on the side, for example, she might eventually be able to use her creativity to help your company.
Here are three easy ways to support the side hustles of your employees:
The best employees have a healthy work-life balance. Ask team members to complete a work-life analysis, and work with them to identify opportunities for side hustles. If they are working in the office around the clock without any personal time, try to find ways to make their workload more manageable. Once you define any gaps, you can collectively track where they are in life and where they want to go.
It is imperative to track short-term and long-term goals. I call this a W.I.N. list (short for “what’s important now”). Do not treat it like a to-do list; think of it as a road map for achievement. In life, you need to use steppingstones to get to the peak of the mountain.
Remind employees to check their W.I.N. list every day. Putting their goals in writing gives them a greater sense of responsibility — and accountability — to achieve what they want in life.
Ask employees to identify a new side hustle every quarter and to give you a progress report on their long-running projects. Keep the conversation casual, but hold your employees accountable with legitimate follow-ups. When employees know you truly care about their well-being, they will buy into the mandatory responsibilities you set for them in the workplace.
All CEOs and managers should embrace the dreams of their employees. In the long run, business leaders will be rewarded for betting big on those with long dreams and short revenue streams. As Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything you want in life if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Michael Ray Newman is the CEO of Zig Ziglar International. ZZI trains leaders, transforms businesses, and changes lives through the time-tested principles of Zig Ziglar. Michael has committed his life to helping others and inspiring employees with high energy and higher expectations. Follow ZZI on Facebook and Michael on Twitter.