Rise Of The Portfolio Career: Half Of Young Professionals In New York Have A ‘Side Hustle’

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  • 51% of 18–24 year-olds have some form of side hustle
  • Almost three quarters of 18–24-year-olds claim having just one job is ‘risky’
  • 55% of young workers need flexible working hours and hybrid work to maintain side-hustle
  • 61% of 18–24-year-olds are anxious about pay; often living pay-cheque-to-pay-cheque
  • Family commitments, working long hours, and fear of burnout are primary reasons holding older workers back from pursuing a ‘side hustle’

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Young Professionals Have A Side Hustle

Half of young professionals in New York under the age of 24yrs claim to have a ‘side hustle’ – with 70% stating it is ‘too risky’ to focus on just having one job as they may have done pre-pandemic.

In a poll undertaken by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters; 56% of young professionals expressed a desire for a ‘portfolio career’ – the concept of monetising your skills in several ways and having multiple income sources, rather than a single job at one company.

In fact, 55% of young workers in New York have stated that flexible hours and a hybrid working environment is a must when looking for a job – otherwise it will impact their side-hustle. 

Nick Louca, Managing Director of Robert Walters New York, comments:

“Our survey has found that side-hustles are a priority for young professionals but for too long side-jobs have been considered a ‘dirty secret’ by employers. However, I don’t believe this is the right approach. Portfolio careers have long been a go-to for highly experienced professionals who use their knowledge and offer consultancy, training, or advisory services when near or post-retirement.

“If viewed through a different lens, a side hustle or portfolio career for a junior professional showcase’s entrepreneurialism, initiative, innovative thinking, and great project management skills. All characteristics which should be championed by employers.

“For those concerned about employees being distracted it’s worth noting that 70% of Gen Z professionals state that their employer does meet their career expectations, the highest out of any other age cohort. A side hustle does not necessarily mean that an employee is not interested in progressing within their primary job.”

Anxiety Rife For Young Professionals

According to the Robert Walters survey of 3,000 professionals in New York, it is 18–24-year-olds (Gen Z) who reported feeling more anxious than their more experienced colleagues in the past 18 months around job security, pay, relationships at work, and their mental well-being.

Young professionals living pay cheque to pay cheque

The average annual graduate salary in New York sits around $55,260. (Source) After tax and deductions, young professionals in New York could receive average monthly earnings of around $3,466. (Source)

When we consider the current cost of living (see link), figures show that this cohort of young workers are unable financially to live by themselves – whilst also saving money for the future and investing in a pension for their retirement.

The inability for employers to keep increasing salaries in-line with inflation or cost of living means that the young professionals situation is only worsening, leading them to looking for additional sources of income.

Nick adds: “The traditional values of employees holding one job and being bound by moonlighting clauses in their employment contracts needs to be addressed. Employers need to be flexible, and leaders must be empathetic that - for some – a side hustle is not just a passion-project but a necessity.

“I would encourage businesses to have an open mind about their employees' extra-curricular activities – encouraging them to bring that level of initiative and entrepreneurialism to the workplace.

“Don’t underestimate what value a side-hustle can bring to the day job i.e., a financial advisor having a huge TikTok presence – these skills can be utilised in their day job and become of great value to the company.

“Offer a platform – whether it is allowing them to sell cakes or crafts in the office lobby, host a lunchtime yoga session, or the ability to promote what they do on the intranet or internal notice boards.

“Of course, all of the above needs to be balanced against a strong day-to-day performance at work, offering these opportunities is a privilege that needs to be provided as a result of good employee performance in their day job.”