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Should you reveal your side hustle to your employer?


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Life & Work

Should you reveal your side hustle to your employer?


Often than not, people with side hustles try to get the most from the pair hence ending up neglecting themselves. FILE PHOTO | SHUTTERSTOCK

The number of Kenyans working full-time jobs, in addition to other part-time consultancies, has risen over the years and the trend shows no sign of reversing.

If you tell your boss, can you moonlight without worry or assure him or her that your full-time job has priority and that you do your side work only after work hours?

Can you be upfront about your ability to handle two or three jobs?

For Dennis Murimi, having a side hustle sprung from a passion for machines.

Mr Murimu worked as the ICT manager at an international school before he tendered his resignation to focus on his business.

He would then focus on his printing and branding business plus his wood and steel fabrication company for two years before he was recalled back to the school.

“My employer knows I have a side hustle and purchases items from my business. It is an open secret and they are very supportive,” he says.

With a 7:40 am to 5:00 pm job, he says nowadays the business is often left at the hands of his wife.

“Despite having a relationship with my employees, my wife comes in handy every time in running the business making life easier for me,” he says.

However, he puts a caveat on employees sharing their side hustles saying they should gauge their employers.

“Depending on your relationship with your boss, you can choose to disclose your side hustle, but it’s not compulsory,” he says.

While Mr Murimu is open with his boss, Lucy Mbilo operates her side hustle secretly.

She says that she chose to conceal her business for fear of being thought of as competing with her boss or robbing off office hours.

“Life is hard. You cannot depend on one salary for survival,” she says.

The sales executive personnel says she has staff who operate her backhoe loader machines in Migori, Meru, and Homa Bay counties.

She says her work is mainly field work which provides her with an opportunity to check on her side hustle.

Leveraging technology, Ms Mbilo also keeps tabs on her employees and her machines. “At night, we balance the accounts and even discuss projects,” she says.

Though her business is different from her employer’s, some days she struggles to balance the two jobs but acknowledges the support she gets from her husband.

Read: Legal issues for your side hustle

Intending to be her own boss in some years to come, Ms Mbilo says that motivates her to keep pressing on.

Susan Kiamba, a career coach says it is in the best interest of an employee to disclose if they have a side hustle but cautions them on employing wisdom while at it.

She observes that one can have a side hustle but they should be disciplined to balance the jobs and their temperaments.

“Know your energy ebbs and flows and try to work with it,” she says.

Though employees get side hustles for different things, Ms Kiamba notes that most of them are seeking extra cash due to the biting economic times.

On the other side, some seek side hustles because their primary job is not providing the satisfaction they need despite being able to foot the bills. To them, a side hustle becomes an outlet for their passion and joy.

“People often look for side hustles or get another job because they want to transition from their primary job to another or a business. Some want to learn a new skill,” she says.

Often than not, people with side hustles try to get the most from the pair hence ending up neglecting themselves. Ms Kiamba observes that many of them suffer from burnout.

On the flip side, Robert Sakayo, a Human Resource professional says although it is not cast in stone whether one ought to tell their boss, understanding the temperaments of your employer helps make the decision about disclosure easier.

However, he puts a caveat on employees with side hustles informing them that they should not conflict with their primary job because they signed a contract.

“Some employees start their side hustles out of not feeling appreciated by their bosses. These side hustles are often a carbon copy of their primary jobs. Some contracts have a conflict-of-interest clause. This could be a brewing pot of disaster,” he says.

To avoid conflicting with your primary job, Mr Sakayo says that one ought to read through their contract. Some contracts dictate informing your employer if you have a side hustle that an employee needs to abide by.

While having one job can be stressful enough, employees with side hustles are advised to take care of themselves both physically and mentally.

“Further, starting a side job in an industry that one is conversant with helps you have some understanding of the hustle, hence preventing you from being easily blinded,” he advises.

Read: At the height of my career, I chose a side hustle

Ms Kiamba says that the view of work has shifted especially since the entry of Generation Z in the job market. Additionally, the reason for working has also shifted from being money-driven to personal fulfilment and impact on society.

Thanks to the different education systems they have gone through, Gen Z has grown up knowing everything is possible with many of them prompting a shift in space.

“They know when they are most productive and have held discussions with their bosses on when they can submit their deliverables even away from home. They have defied the 8-4, 9-5 working hours,” she says.

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