Survey Finds Independent Contractors Wouldn’t Do It Again

NEW YORK — While the number of independent workers is expected to grow to 54 million people by 2020 (MBO Partners: State of Independence in America 2015), the rise of the “gig economy” many forecasters see on the horizon may develop slower than expected.

A recent online poll by Deloitte of nearly 4,000 workers found that 67 percent of respondents who have worked as an independent contractor would choose not to do so again in the future.  Additionally, more than 60 percent of employed workers said that their stability would suffer if they moved to independent contract work, and 42 percent worry about sacrificing good compensation and benefits.

Organizations Have More to Do to Attract Independent Contractors
Four-in-ten respondents (41 percent) recognize that independent contracting offers more flexibility to work where, when and how they want to as compared to full-time employment. However, respondents cite inconsistent cash flow and lack of employer-paid benefits as drawbacks that discourage them from pursuing independent work.

Furthermore, less than half (48 percent) of those who worked as an independent contractor were very satisfied with their experience, and more than half (56 percent) said the most important benefit of full-time employment is the steady income.

“In order to achieve business goals, organizations should look to attract all talent pools,” said Mike Preston, chief talent officer, Deloitte LLP. “Organizations should start thinking about the culture they have in place and the experiences they can design for contingent workers.”

Culture is Key
There is more on respondents’ minds than financial security. Nearly half of respondents said that a company’s culture is “extremely important” in choosing where they want to work. Of those respondents, 53 percent of millennials and 50 percent of Generation X respondents noted that culture is “extremely important,” while only 40 percent of baby boomers said the same.

Those who have previously worked as an independent contractor, however, agree —nearly half said that a lack of connection to a company’s culture would discourage them from working independently in the future. This also affects adaptation to a company’s culture, with nearly half (45 percent) of all respondents believing that it would be difficult for an independent contractor to understand and connect with a company’s internal culture. Forty-four percent of those who have worked as an independent contractor agreed, as did half of the millennial cohort who responded to the survey.

“Today’s workforce wants the ability to choose how they work – full-time or contract work. Regardless of what they choose, they crave a holistic experience that combines good compensation and benefits with a focus on well-being and career development,” Preston said.

Interest in Contract Work Remains
Despite the challenges, more than one third of respondents (34 percent) said they would consider working independently. Women clearly see the upside of the flexibility that contract work offers. Almost half (46 percent) of women respondents indicated the ability to attend to personal needs is an advantage of being an independent contractor.

While women recognize the benefits of contract work, men are still more likely to work as an independent contractor – 42 percent of men versus 27 percent of women. Men also indicated more satisfaction with independent contract work than women (50 percent vs. 45 percent respectively).

The survey gathered online responses from nearly 4,000 full-time, part-time and independent contract workers across three generations in 13 major markets around the United States – including New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Dallas.