London, 27 November 2018 - As freelancers continue to represent an increasingly significant proportion of the workforce, people are increasingly seeing this way of working as a career choice, not just a short-term, convenient option. Almost four out of ten (39.5%) freelancers plan to remain so in the long term, with only 7.2% of those currently working in this manner wanting to work as an employee again in the future.
There are clear reasons why this is proving to be an effective career choice, rather than just a short-term fix. Freelancers are often highly engaged employees, due to the core qualities that come with the sense of autonomy they have, such as being able to manage workloads effectively and being in control of personal development. This results in freelancers feeling competent in their jobs, with 75.5% of UK respondents stating that they feel they are doing well in their job, while only 14.5% have doubts about whether they can do their jobs properly.
Secondly, freelancers have the flexibility to develop and enhance their professional skills as they see fit.This independent self-governance is obviously appealing, freelancers in Germany (46.6%) and France (42.9%) are most likely to actively spend time developing and adding to their own skills, followed by The Netherlands (36.6%) and Belgium (38.3%), whilst UK freelancers (29.9%) are least likely.
Despite three out of ten UK freelancers spending time developing their own skills, there are clear deficiencies to be addressed. Only 22.4% of them actually use professional or personal networks for support. Of the freelancers surveyed, UK freelancers are the least likely to use support networks, compared to 35.5% in Belgium and almost one in three (31.1%) in the Netherlands. Additionally, 64.9% of UK freelancers never look for support on commercial advice, qualities that are increasingly important for professionals across any industry vertical. Freelancers are, however, keen to look for support when it comes to new competencies, with 41.1% of British freelancers stating that they have done so.
"It's easy to think that people freelance as a temporary solution, possibly to bridge a gap between different jobs or because they need extra flexibility due to family commitments," said Hilde Haems, Chief Human Resources Officer at SD Worx. "Clearly, there are many more significant factors behind why people are seeing freelancing as a long-term career choice though.
As a freelancer, people have the flexibility to be in control of their personal development and as a result, they tend to be highly engaged in the workplace. However, that flexibility isn't necessarily restricted to freelancers only. We are seeing a trend towards a personalisation of the employer-employee relationship. The focus is increasingly on the individual.
Their choices are connected with factors such as age, gender, stage of life, employment contract, family situation, commuting requirements and culture. The extent to which employers meet these requirements largely determines their success: companies that allow their employees more flexibility, be it in time, place, job or reward, often gain on employee engagement, productivity, retention and happiness at work."