The world of work has undergone tremendous change. One of the trends in the shifting talent economy is the rise of employees pursuing side hustles while working. In this context, how can HR leaders design the right guidelines to tackle the new challenges posed by the changing talent economy? What are some of the technology solutions that companies can leverage? And what are some opportunity areas that technology can enable?
In this exclusive interview, Shaakun Khanna, Head of Human Capital Management Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle Corporation answers some critical questions
Q. There’s a shift in the talent economy. We’re seeing more people doing side hustles. Is it just the effect of the pandemic? Or is there a broader trend at play?
Side hustles, moonlighting, or engaging in gigs is not a new concept. In certain jobs, it was always possible to do this. For example, Doctors could be employed at multiple hospitals, lawyers and architects could do this. Teachers took tuition after school hours. If you look at what’s driving it now, I think four significant shifts have gotten accentuated during the pandemic. The first is a flexible working concept. Many people have realised the possibilities of working in a flexible environment.
The second shift is around skill development. Early in the pandemic, when people realised they had extra time, they started learning new things. Then it was further facilitated by the ability to monetise the new skills and the spare time. That, to my mind, is the most significant catalyst. Another related shift is the demands of the talent marketplace.
Lastly, there’s been changing life preferences and ambitions of people. The definition of success has changed. So, many people want to retire early, and they look at side hustles as a way to do that.
Q. What, according to you, are some of the top HR challenges that the growth of side hustles has posed?
First is the concern around financial aspects. There is a financial contract between the employee and employer to deliver ‘X’ amount of productivity in exchange for ‘Y’ amount of time that has an economic value. So how can companies ensure that their financial interests are taken care of?
There’s also concern about intellectual property. What are some systems, processes and technology you need to put in place to ensure the intellectual property is not getting diluted or misused or leaked?
The third challenge is to do with a competitive advantage. How do you make sure your competitive secrets are safe? Then there is the concern of making sure your organisational resources aren’t misused, whether that’s to do with time or just a laptop.
Q In terms of designing guidelines, how would you say HR leaders should think about this – given that side hustles may mean different things to different employees?
Organisations need to acknowledge that this trend is both a concern area and an aspiration of employees. Second is the enablement. There has to be an unambiguous policy— ambiguity leads to the wrong behaviours and actions. If you don’t know whether it is legal or illegal, people will treat it differently. Organisations will need to take a position on this issue, and they need to develop ethics maturity – for both their frontline workforce and leaders.
Another issue that needs attention is personalisation. Companies already allow people to work part-time and take up multiple roles across geographies. How do you personalise it for different people?
Side hustles are also an excellent opportunity for companies to encourage talent to grow internally. If organisations provide opportunities that cater to one’s passion for an extra income, that’s a source of motivation and engagement. Oracle has launched an internal talent marketplace that allows you to engage with employees, much like a gig platform. And employees can pick up projects. That’s the thinking that’s already in the market.
In summary, there has to be a clearly laid down policy framework. Then there is technology to help.
Q. Are there any specific technology trends that are aligned to this changing work culture?
The first is around analytics. It plays a crucial role. It can present insight on work behaviours, employee interests, the propensity to volunteer, etc.; there is today a dynamic skills framework that could bring out new opportunities for short-term working to light.