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Over a third of South Africans work more than one job

An online survey in July revealed that over a third of South Africans may be working more than one job in order to stay afloat in the current economy.

The prevalence of individuals working more than one job, especially in white collar roles, has even lead to the coining of a new term to describe the demographic. Increasingly known as “slashers” because of the slash between their various job titles (i.e. Counsellor/Personal Trainer), these hard-working South Africans are part of a global trend which is seeing more and more people source supplementary income through different, additional professional roles.

Of course, working more than one job is nothing new for many South Africans who live close to or below the poverty line. A large swathe of the population has long been turning their hands to virtually any of the scarce job opportunities which come their way. Now, however, working more than one job is no longer the preserve of the underprivileged and unsupported.


The survey

This new survey, conducted by Old Mutual , provides insight into the emerging demographic of professional and middle class South Africans who are taking on additional roles which are starkly different to their “day jobs”. The research interviewed 1,000 South African households and included a further 950 online responses.

The results of the research were stark; 37% of adults responding to the survey claimed to have at least two jobs. Interestingly, it was middle and upper income earners who were most likely to have multiple roles, in part because those on low incomes typically spent more time travelling to work – and working longer hours too.


Contrasting roles

Amongst these relatively privileged “Slashers”, the survey revealed that many of these hard workers have radically different roles. 24% of respondents to the poll claimed that their additional jobs were totally unrelated to their “main” job. Combinations such as accountant by day, aromatherapist by night were not uncommon. In fact, it was more common for respondents to have two unconnected roles. Just 13% of those surveyed claimed their additional jobs were related to their “main” job.


Economic worries

So why are so many people increasingly taking on supplementary work? One answer may lie with the recent economic instability. From corruption and a junk credit rating, to a fresh economic recession, South Africans are facing choppy financial waters which could see the cost of living rise further and result in burgeoning unemployment.

With financially uncertain times ahead, many South Africans are now feeling motivated to start saving and tackling debt, so that – should things go pear-shaped – they’ll have an emergency fund to draw on instead of turning to short term lenders like Wonga.


The technology boom

Away from economic concerns there is another, more positive explanation. Technology is now making it easier to launch, promote and operate small businesses of all varieties. From platforms like People Per Hour and Beauty on Tapp, to simple website builders like Squarespace, it’s easier than ever to “set up shop” in your spare time.

This means that many professionals with other passions are finding it easier and more profitable to put their “hobbies” and talents to use, while earning a little extra on the side.


How many jobs do you work? Do you work for pleasure or out of necessity? What prompted you to take on additional roles? Share your stories and views with us.

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