Meet South Africa’s newest professional, the “Slasher”

Increasing numbers of professionals in South Africa are adding a “slash” to their job title, working more than one role, frequently in an unconnected industry.

From estate agent/wedding planners, to accountant/reiki practitioners and digital marketer/photographers, more and more upper and middle income members of the population are joining a demographic first defined by US writer Marci Alboher.

Alboher initially coined the term “slasher” to describe a phenomenon she saw emerging in America. However, the spread of the slasher has since gone global and has now well and truly reached South African shores. In fact, the phenomenon is already so pervasive that a fresh Old Mutual survey found that more than one in three South Africans with a monthly income of R5,000+ are working two or more jobs.


Middle & upper classes start grafting

Working more than one job is nothing new to South Africans. Lower income households know only too well the struggle and the strain of holding down multiple roles to make ends meet. Yet it is the makeup of the new demographic working multiple jobs which makes these fresh figures so interesting.

The Old Mutual study spoke to 1,000 South African households and solicited responses from an additional 950 online participants in the survey. The research revealed a boom in middle and upper income individuals working more than one job, while many lower income respondents claimed they were not able to work more than one job due to lengthy travel times to – and long hours at – their original job.


Broadening horizons

Amongst these new “slashers” it was more common for workers to be holding down jobs in unrelated areas and industries. 24% of respondents to the survey described their additional role (or roles) as unrelated to their main job. By contrast, just 13% of respondents occupied an additional role in an area related to their everyday work.


Why are slashers skyrocketing?

So why are the middle and upper classes increasingly opting to take on additional roles? The answer is almost certainly economic. Although technology is making it ever easier to set up and find work in a new profession – especially on a freelance or self-employed basis – it’s more likely that “slasher syndrome” is booming due to financial need, not professional passion.

With South Africa now in another recession, handling corruption at the top, coping with a junk status credit rating and watching the value of the Rand fall, households across the economic divide are feeling the strain of rising costs of living. From groceries to mortgages, many essentials are becoming increasingly unaffordable for everyday South Africans, placing significant strain on household budgets.

Rather than reaching out to a payday lender when emergency financial needs strike, start saving money instead as part of a plan; many South Africans are shrewdly choosing to accrue finance while they can, as recession typically comes hand in hand with rising unemployment. Despite the strain working multiple jobs places on individuals and families, over a third of R5,000+ earners are now choosing to grit their teeth and keep “slashing” to protect their financial futures.


Do you have multiple jobs? What factors made you take on additional roles? Share your experiences and insights with other readers below.


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