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Gen Z’s Side Hustles: A Response to Layoff Fears

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Moonlighting, or having a second job, was traditionally seen as a sign of financial instability or poor planning. However, for Generation Z (Gen Z), side hustles have become not only common but also desirable. A survey by consulting firm EY found that 40% of Gen Z individuals aged 26 and below had both a job and a side hustle. This trend is driven by a desire to challenge workplace norms and secure financial stability in a competitive job market. Side hustles provide an additional source of income during uncertain economic times, allowing Gen Z to hedge against job layoffs and financial turmoil.

Gen Z’s perspective on side hustles is shaped by their experiences of witnessing economic hardships such as the 2008 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. These events have instilled in them a sense of pragmatism about financial stability. According to EY’s report, 52% of Gen Z individuals are worried about not having enough money, and 39% are extremely stressed about making the wrong financial choices. It is remarkable that 15% of Gen Z respondents said they work a side hustle to save for retirement, despite being in their teens and twenties. Side hustles are seen by Gen Z as a pragmatic decision rather than a necessity or a passion, reflecting their practical approach to ensure their financial well-being.

Moreover, Gen Z is redefining their relationship with work and the value they place on their careers. Unlike previous generations, Gen Z is less interested in sacrificing personal well-being for professional success. They reject the notion that personal sacrifice equates to professional value. The digital era, with its abundance of opportunities and alternative paths to success, has given Gen Z the freedom to explore side hustles and pursue their passions outside of traditional desk jobs. The internet has removed barriers and provided platforms for creativity, entrepreneurship, and networking, granting Gen Z greater autonomy and possibilities in making money. For them, success is no longer defined solely by monetary wealth but by personal fulfillment and independence.

Employers should not perceive Gen Z’s embrace of side hustles as laziness or a lack of dedication to their jobs. The EY report advises employers to understand that Gen Z is able to manage their side hustles alongside their full-time jobs. Rather than viewing this shift as a decline in work ethic, it should be seen as an evolution of the modern workforce. Gen Z is normalizing the concept of a side hustle and reshaping the workplace by challenging outdated notions of employees having only one income stream. The report asserts that in the future, the traditional view of an employee having multiple income streams alongside their employer will be considered outdated.

In conclusion, Gen Z’s affinity for side hustles reflects a practical response to economic uncertainties and a desire for financial stability. They prioritize pragmatic choices over personal sacrifices, defining success on their own terms. The digital era has provided Gen Z with opportunities to explore alternative paths to success and reshape the workplace. Employers should embrace and support their Gen Z workforce’s side hustles, as they contribute to greater job satisfaction and well-rounded individuals who bring diverse experiences and skills to the table.

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