The side hustle is synonymous with the Kenyan culture. It symbolizes our entrepreneurial nature
and embodies our hope for a better tomorrow. It is the sum dedication of one’s effort and
ambition put into an idea, a business and an investment. It is spoken of pride and ownership. So
what could be wrong with it?
There is potential conflict between the side hustle and the employee contract. The employee
contract portends that one is hired to perform certain duties at certain times. The company buys
your time, mental and physical efforts to enable it attain its strategic objectives. A conflict arises
when an employee infringes on that contract, compromising the employee’s focus on making the
full contribution the company to meet its objectives. The ambition of a company at this this point is
at odds with an individual’s ambition.
What does a leader do when faced with this conflict between the side hustles of the organisations’
employees and the company’s goal achievement? If a leader takes a forceful approach, they could
issue warning letters and fire employees at the risk of eroding the psychological contract with
employees through fear. If a leader takes a blind or soft approach, the organization is vulnerable.
Like any other awkward workplace issue, the side hustle needs to be confronted and managed.
The side hustle is a rampant construct in Kenyan organizations and affects employee engagement
and optimization of human resource output. Companies must therefore accommodate the reality
of side hustles.
1. Have an environment of open communication
It is important that a business recognizes the existence of side hustles among its employees.
Employees should be encouraged to articulate their ambitions and personal goals at the point of
recruitment. These goals should be incorporated into the leader’s mentorship plan and monitored
alongside organizational goals as part of personal alignment. In addition, organizations must
proactively enable employees to understand how a side hustle can co-exist with the day job, setting
boundaries and rules. This requires an environment of open communication to exist for the
employees to feel safe to open up about their ambitions and trust the intention of leaders.
2. Have a policy developed by all stakeholders
A clear policy developed by all stakeholders will ensure that the boundaries and expectations are
set. When a policy is developed from everyone’s input, there is buy-in which makes everyone
accountable. This is unlike a top-down policy where the staff is obliged to abide.
Some principles of the policy could include:
• Side hustles should not damage the productivity of an employee.
• Side hustles should not be a drain on company resources.
• Side hustles should not lead to conflicts of interest in the workplace. Employee side hustles must not impact the company’s performance and they cannot do business with the company indirectly.
• Side hustles should be brought into the open so that they cease being taboo.
• If in doubt, employees should be encouraged to discuss their side hustles with their bosses to
understand if there is a conflict of interest
3. Monitor, Evaluate & Create
Every side hustle varies and through continuous monitoring, the policy can be evaluated and
amended based on key learning’s. For example, one side hustle could be time-dependent and this
could lead to an agreement on flexi working hours. Another side hustle could be seasonal and this
could lead to an agreement on taking immediate off days without a long approval process.
The side hustle policy should be alive within the organization through continuous communication.
A note on different workplace settings
It is easier to manage side hustles in the workplace in some situations than others. In a factory,
employees tend to have their time tightly managed and side hustles can probably be managed
quite easily by a well-communicated and enforced internal policy.
The same is largely true among office-based employees where, while access to company resources
and inappropriate business opportunities may be greater, people are generally quite closely
supervised and behaviors can be observed.
For field-based staff more prescriptive guidance may need to be needed. Such staff tends to be
out of office and operating alone for long periods with company resources, such as a vehicle, at
their disposal. For these types of employees a more prescriptive and tighter policy may be
It makes no sense for a company to bury its head in the sand on the issue of side hustles. Forbid
side hustles and a company make a criminal of everyone… from floor-sweeper to CEO.
Our advice is to be sensible, accept the reality, implement a rational policy, ensure people
understand it, and move on!