It seems that just about everybody under 35 has a side hustle nowadays, and many over 40 do too. There’s the call center rep who drives Uber/Lyft in the evenings and weekends to help pay down student loans; the IT Manager who runs an important diversity blog and speaking business in her free time; the Property Underwriting Director who does consulting on the side, while being very careful to avoid conflicts of interest; the Underwriter with a jewelry business on Etsy; and the Actuary who tutors high schoolers on math and runs a chess club.
Whether they do it for a little extra money, the experience, or because they have a passion for the work, your people are taking advantage of our industry’s generous work-life-balance and dedicating some of their free time to productive activities, some of those activities might even be directly related to insurance, luckily for HR, the majority are probably not.
I lead such a double life myself. Up until recently, I was a Middle Market Underwriter for a major carrier while at the same time writing for and marketing this blog, speaking at insurance conferences about Millennials, and even publishing a book on the same topic. My employer had made it clear from the beginning that they wanted me to be an underwriter and just an underwriter in a small office several states away from headquarters. They didn’t want me to be visible in the industry and certainly didn’t want me to mention that I worked for them while engaging in any of these outside activities. Luckily for me, the success of Insuring Tomorrow directly led to my current job at a smaller and more open-minded firm serving the industry that understands that, as long as I’m getting my day job done, my side hustle shouldn’t be perceived as a negative.
Every year, at my last employer, I had to electronically sign their conflict of interest policy. Every year, I struggled to decide whether I should list Insurance Nerds and deal with the potential of being told to choose between the job that paid the bills and the side hustle that I was passionate about. Luckily, the conflict of interest policy was pretty old fashioned and mostly worried more about people running a contractor business while also handling property claims or benefiting from influencing the company’s purchasing decisions to companies they have an interest in. My best read of it is that it didn’t prohibit me from running an insurance media company, blog, podcast and tiny book publisher.
Solid arguments can be made that supporting your people’s side hustle ultimately will benefit your business as much as it benefits them. First of all it shows trust in them as professionals and how you care for them as people. You are showing that you trust that not only they will honorably navigate any conflict of interest but also that you trust they will get their day job responsibilities accomplished even if they are spending some time on their side hustle. Second there is a mutual benefit in that they are learning and practicing new skills that become intrinsically part of their repertoire and became available to benefit your business also. Also, focusing some time on a side hustle they love clears up their mind and gets them hungry for more achievement which will inevitably bleed over to give them more energy at the day job.
Maybe it’s time for more than just making peace with the side hustles, maybe it’s time to full on support them!