How to tell your full-time boss about your side hustle

PeopleImages | E+ | Getty Images

The ongoing pandemic has prompted many Americans to take on side hustles and branch out into entrepreneurship. According to a survey of 2,001 Americans over 18, conducted by workflow automation platform Zapier, one in three Americans had a side hustle at the start of 2021. Twenty-four percent were planning on starting one in the future. 

Side hustles can be great for earning extra income, creating financial stability and bringing flexibility into your life. But how do you address your side hustle with your full-time boss? 

Telling your boss about your side hustle can be tricky, but that doesn't make it impossible.

CNBC Make It spoke with Jazmine Wilkes, a senior human resources professional, blogger and public speaker with five years of experience and substantial knowledge on employee engagement, talent management, and diversity & inclusion to discuss the do's and don'ts of addressing outside income with your employer.

Determine if your side hustle is important enough to disclose

Before sparking the conversation with your boss about your side hustle, figure out if the information will benefit either party. A harmless hobby, that is non-competing with the company and doesn't interfere with work time, may not matter to your employer. However, a side hustle that will directly impact performance at your full-time job could be detrimental.

Wilkes says balance is key when juggling a side hustle with a full-time job.

"Time is a big deal," she said when asked about the struggles of maintaining multiple sources of income. "You don't want to lose your full-time job due to lack of commitment. Be respectful of the time you committed to and hold yourself accountable."

People who struggle with time management may opt for more passive income opportunities, which help you earn money without active involvement. Stock market investing, affiliate marketing and cryptocurrency are a few of the many passive income opportunities that grew in popularity this year.

According to CNBC, more than 1 in 10 Americans invested in cryptocurrency over the past year. Twenty-four percent of Americans invested in stocks over the same time period.

Refer to the employee handbook

When determining how to tell your boss about your side hustle, Wilkes says employees should always refer to the employee handbook.

"It's important to double check your employee handbook and find out if there's anything in there about obtaining another job," she says. "For example, if you're working for a competing company, which is a no-no, the handbook would let you know how to navigate that."

Wilkes says, on a lighter note, if your side hustle relates to your full-time job, you may be able to leverage it in a way that helps both parties.

"Ask yourself, could this possibly benefit the company if they're willing to take that risk?" she says. Wilkes, for example, has used her knowledge of HR and employee relations to start a blog and YouTube show with fellow HR Professional, Kristina Minyard. She's also spoken at several conferences with the support of her full-time job, which has provided exposure and increased insight into her workplace. 

Just do it

While it can be intimidating to have these kinds of conversations, Wilkes says it's best to "just rip the Band-Aid off."

"If your side hustle is going to change the way you work your full-time job, you need to be open and honest to your company, especially if you still want to be receiving a paycheck from them," she said in a blog post.

Wilkes emphasizes the growing need for side hustles since the pandemic started.

"People are almost forced to have a side hustle these days", she says. "Whether it's two separate jobs, or applying for a remote position and doing Uber on the side, the pandemic has made work more flexible. Employers recognize that, so just have the hard conversations."

Wilkes stresses that the most important tip is to "be sure you don't lose your full-time job pursuing your side hustle."

"A side hustle isn't a main hustle, pick and choose which you want to keep, and which helps you follow your dreams."

Check out:

How to start a successful side hustle while keeping your full-time job, according to those making 6 figures

3 side hustle apps that could help you earn money—including one that's 'surprisingly lucrative'

Kevin O'Leary says this 'simple' habit can help you land a promotion

Building a $2 million luxury chicken coop business
Building a $2 million luxury chicken coop business