Are Your Clients Running a Side Gig on Company Time?

Young woman in the office running a side gig from her full-time job.

Let’s face it. The number of people reporting having a side gig is on the rise, whether it’s to help meet financial obligations or to nurture their entrepreneurial side. With the rise of side gigs comes the increase of concerns from employers that employees are using company time and resources to run their business. Therefore, engaging in a conversation with our clients about the ethics of having a side gig, while also working a full-time job, may be well worth it. There are ways we can support them to be successful in both scenarios.

Side Gigs are Here to Stay

In these current economic conditions, many people have resorted to starting a side hustle in order to manage the rising cost of living. A recent survey shows that almost 30% of Canadians are taking on side gigs, up from only 13% a year ago. The number may actually be much higher these days due to looming unemployment or downsizings; side gigs can serve as a way to close employment gaps.

Two out of five Canadians have reported extracting funds from savings just to keep up with the rising costs. Meanwhile, many others are reporting that they need to reduce discretionary spending or delay a major purchase. All the financial stress is leading many to turn to side gigs to help cover the cost of basic, daily living.

Some employees are using tools, such as ChatGPT, to help perform their full-time work. This gives them more time to operate their side hustle. Work-from-home employees may be logging into their company’s portal, but not doing much actual work because they’re busy focusing on side pursuits, such as making food deliveries or driving for Uber. Some may even hold down two or more remote jobs, with all of their bosses being none the wiser.

While we, as career practitioners, may encourage our employed clients to start or find a side gig, employers may not always be as supportive, especially when the side business is being run on company time. We have a responsibility to support our clients’ drive and ambition, but we also have a duty to coach them about exercising integrity at all times.

Ten Tips to Help Clients Govern Their Side Gig With Integrity

  1. Raising awareness about ethics and integrity is a good start. In the quest to make more money and relieve financial stress, it’s easy for the lines to get blurred, so even having a conversation about ethics is helpful. It could just be an eye-opener for our clients.
  2. Identify your client’s motivations and determine how they can best leverage their brand. Is their side hustle important because it’s a necessity or a passion? If it’s the former, you could help them find financial resources to review their budget; specifically, how much more money they need to bring in over-and-above the salary of their full-time job. If the latter, and they want to start a side business to cultivate meaning, help them set goals and create a realistic plan.
  3. Encourage your client to check if their job even allows employees to have side gigs or hold a second job. Have them review their employment contract to see whether a clause exists prohibiting such pursuits.
  4. Impress upon your client the importance of avoiding competition with their employer’s products and/or services. Ask them if they signed a non-compete clause when they started their job. If so, operating a competitive side business is prohibited and may result in your client’s immediate termination.
  5. Advise your client to make sure they have thoroughly assessed the amount of time it will take to manage a side business. It takes not just a lot of time, but dedication and commitment. Remind your client, in all fairness, that they continue to have a responsibility to their employer.
  6. Even if their employer is tolerant of employees operating a side business during their lunch or coffee breaks, remind your client to avoid using any of the employer’s equipment or supplies. This demonstrates awareness of and respect for the employer’s investment and operating costs.
  7. To mitigate any unforeseen risks, encourage your client to work on their business only outside of company hours. By doing this, they’ll be able to completely focus on their job and perform with a clear conscience and sense of integrity.
  8. Stress the importance of self-care. During high stress, your client’s self-care may take a backseat and fear can set in. Encourage them to get enough sleep, drink lots of water, eat well, move their body, and practice yoga. Motivate your client to formulate and maintain a schedule for their side hustle that allows them to have personal rest time.
  9. Support your client to know when to call it quits on the side hustle. Operating their own business and doing a day job is a time-consuming, exhausting feat. Champion your client to regularly perform self check-ins and exercise their discretion.
  10. If the side gig really takes off, advise your client to know how and when to resign. Be sure to guide them to check their company’s policy, but also use their sound judgment in the process. Navigating a side business while working a regular job can be stressful. Sometimes quitting may be advisable if the situation becomes too overwhelming. Mindfully exploring work-life balance can enhance health and success.

For more information on educating and supporting your clients to operate their side businesses with ethics and integrity, enrol in CPC’s courses or consider completing your Certified Employment Strategist (CES) or Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS) designations.

Lori Jazvac is a passionate, award-winning Master Certified Résumé Strategist and Certified Employment Strategist through Career Professionals of Canada. As a multi-certified Master Résumé Writer and Certified Career Transition Coach, she specializes in helping clients navigate challenging career transitions. In 2013, an empowering vision inspired Lori to launch Creative Horizons Communications, a holistic career services firm where she virtually supports jobseekers around the globe to embrace their next career milestone. In her spare time, Lori enjoys dance, blogging, watching comedies and reality shows, yoga, and taking long walks in nature.

Conny Lee is a Certified Holistic Narrative Career Practitioner, Online Business Manager for coaches, Certified Career (CCS), Employment (CES), and Résumé Strategist (CRS), Trauma of Money Facilitator, and Sacred Money Archetypes® Coach. She focuses on supporting people to create the career, business, and life they truly desire and love. To learn more, visit Conny’s website at When she isn’t working, Conny enjoys reading, listening, learning anything related to personal development, spending time with her family, and working out.

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