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Doubling Up: Side Gigs Now the Norm for Most Employees

Doubling Up: Side Gigs Now the Norm for Most Employees
Credit: Mohd KhairilX/Shutterstock

Holding down one full-time job isn't enough for most workers today, new research finds.

A study from Spherion Staffing revealed that the vast majority of workers – 85 percent – now work at least one side job in addition to their full-time position. Of those, 54 percent hold at least two side gigs.

Many professionals believe that in today's environment, working multiple jobs is the rule and not the exception. Nearly half of those surveyed said that changing societal norms have set the expectation that at least one side gig is necessary. Of those who have a side gig, 18 percent said they are doing so because it is considered standard in the modern workforce.

More so than what society expects, money appears to be the driving force for why employees are taking on added jobs. Among workers holding at least one side gig, 42 percent said they took on the added work so they could supplement their current income, with 37 percent saying they wanted to make money to save for future interests and responsibilities. [Thinking about getting a side gig? Here's how it can benefit your career]

While the added income is nice, some employees said working extra jobs provides them the opportunity to expand their skills. More than one-quarter of those interested in picking up a side gig in the next year want to do so in a space not at all related to their primary job.

"The escalating interest in side gigs across the American workforce does not necessarily reflect that workers are unhappy with their job, but rather a desire to pursue new and exciting growth opportunities – be they financial or personal," said Sandy Mazur, Spherion division president, in a statement.

The study shows that the number of workers with side gigs is only expected to increase in the coming year. One-quarter of those who have never had a side job said they are likely to pick one up in the coming year.

Additionally, 65 percent of those who don't have a side gig have given at least some thought into getting one.

Employers are taking notice of the increase in workers taking on extra jobs. In an effort to avoid potential conflicts of interests and keep employees focused on their work, 40 percent of employers have enacted formal policies regarding side employment.

Employers aren't the only ones concerned about how side gigs will impact workers' focus. Nearly half of the employees surveyed have expressed concern that their side work could interfere with their main job responsibilities.

"Given this growth, side gig flexibility must be taken into account as companies refine their recruitment and retention plans," Mazur said. "Employers and employees must find a middle ground that gives workers freedom to explore supplemental opportunities without inhibiting productivity or performance."

The study discovered that, while most workers would prefer that their colleagues not discuss their side gigs at the office, more than 70 percent still feel comfortable talking about them with their co-workers, managers and other senior leaders at their main job.

The study was based on surveys of 1,011 full-time, part-time, contract, freelance, temporary and self-employed U.S. workers.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.