At Fast Company, LinkedIn’s Director of Product Management Gyanda Sachdeva points out that “the number of US workers with full-time jobs who freelance on the side is sharply on the rise”:
According to our data here at LinkedIn, the share of those users in our top professional fields has doubled in the past five years. What’s more, the number of people freelancing on the side of their day jobs is growing more than three times faster than the number of full-time freelancers on LinkedIn. …
For one thing, it’s clear that some people are more inclined than others to add part-time freelancing to their repertoires than others. We’ve noticed, too, that men are doing more part-time freelancing than women, and millennials are doing so more than any other age group. Of all the users who list freelance work on their LinkedIn profiles, 20% have a full-time job in addition to their freelance business. That means full-time freelancing still dominates, but the side-gig model is quickly catching up.
Sachdeva also discusses some of things motivating workers to take on these side gigs. In addition to the “obvious” financial motivation, he notes, freelance dabblers are motivated by personal branding & networking, future development, and independent work. Plus, there is the possibility of transitioning to a career as a full-time freelancer, which some see as a path toward flexibility and control over their schedule and work environment. I would add to that list purposeful work, or feeling connected to something you are passionate about. Basically, Sachdeva makes it clear that there are a lot of upsides for employees—especially young, cash-strapped, passionate millennials—in freelance dabbling.
But does it benefit their employers?
What’s the impact of having part of your workforce splitting their time, concentration, and energy between work and… other work? Statistics on engagement and employee value proposition spring to mind. Employees who are working on the side might feel like they have no work-life balance. They might realize that their freelance work delivers a stronger sense of purpose, or that they are compensated relatively better for their time. In so many ways, the EVP of their “regular” job could be threatened.
That being said, freelance work might work out for some employees at some organizations. It may serve a similar role in employees’ lives as pro bono or volunteer work. When employees can apply their skills to make a difference through volunteer work organized by their company, it not only improves their organization’s brand and reputation, but also attracts and engages employees. Perhaps having a company culture that allows and even encourages freelance projects is another way to deliver EVP outside of employees’ everyday roles.