Deloitte Survey: 67% of Independent Contractors Wouldn’t Do It Again

Posted By Terri Williams on September 14, 2016 at 9:28 am
Deloitte Survey: 67% of Independent Contractors Wouldn’t Do It Again

Americans value freedom and independence, even in the workforce. For example, more employees are weighing the pros and cons of job-hopping as this practice is losing its stigma and being recognized – at least in some industries – as a smart career move. But some workers want more freedom, contributing to the rise of independent contractors.

What’s the motivation behind a decision not to tie one’s self to one office? Obviously, it’s different for different people. But for millennials, choosing the independent contractor path helps their oft-stated desire to place a higher premium on work-life balance. Innovations in technology and a tighter job market make it easier to follow such a desire. A recent CareerCast report identifies some of the top freelance, consulting, and part-time jobs for college graduates, which include such occupations as accountant, management analyst, writer, software developer, and occupational therapist.

The number of independent contractors is steadily growing. According to MBO Partners, by 2020, the U.S. will have 54 million people with this designation.

However, a recent survey by accounting, consulting and human resources company Deloitte reveals that 67% of people who have worked as independent workers say they would not choose to do so again. Additional findings from the report include the following:

  • 60% of employed workers say their stability would suffer if they moved to independent contract status
  • 42% of employed workers worry that they would sacrifice compensation and benefits to be independent workers
  • 48% of those who worked as an independent contractor were very satisfied with their experience
  • 53% of millennials, 50% of Generation X and 40% of Baby Boomers believe that culture is very important
  • 45% of all respondents think it would be difficult for an independent contractor to understand and connect with a company’s internal culture

Beyond the numbers on the independent contractor survey

GoodCall spoke with Mike Preston, Deloitte’s chief talent officer, about the significance of the survey. He addressed the following topics:

Has the bubble finally burst?

In many previous surveys, respondents indicated that they enjoyed being gig/freelance workers. Preston does not think that the bubble has burst, but he does believe that this survey highlights issues that must be confronted.

“Our survey results were surprising and speak to two important areas that organizations must address to take advantage of the gig economy – stability and culture,” Preston says. While both of these issues have been front and center in the public debate, Preston says there hasn’t been a lot of research, especially on culture.

The importance of culture to millennials and Gen Zers

Unlike previous generations, Preston says millennials want to work for organizations that share their personal values and have a clear, defined mission and purpose. Instead of focusing solely on profit, they want to focus on people in terms of development and well-being.

“Many millennials are starting families or have aging parents who need care; they want the flexibility to choose where, when and how they work to help them balance increased family and personal responsibilities,” Preston says.

He adds that Deloitte is definitely listening and recently announced a new Family Leave program that allows workers from both genders to take up to 16 weeks of fully paid family leave to support a range of life events impacting them and their families.

But Preston says millennials also want to develop their professional and leadership skills. “They want access to interesting client work, training, and experiences that will help them build their strengths and become better leaders at work and in their communities.”

Regarding Gen Z, those born in 1995 or later, Preston says members are starting to enter the workforce, and companies can expect them to have their own preferences and expectations.

Creating a culture to appeal to independent contractors

Preston says Deloitte is working on ways to create a culture that both attracts and retains contingent workers. “We’re taking a thoughtful, managed approach to building the right infrastructure, and these are a few things we’ve learned so far:

  • Community and corporate culture are important – Deloitte has built an online portal for independent contractors. They can search for projects and read thought leadership pieces on industry trends.
  • Make onboarding simple – Deloitte’s process allows independent workers to sign contracts and statements of work before they start their projects and communicate with the people who will be their points of contact during their projects.

Additional tips for incorporating independent contractors

Even companies that aren’t as large as Deloitte can create a culture that appeals to independent workers. Megan Shroy is the 32-year-old founder of Approach Marketing, a boutique virtual agency providing strategic public relations and marketing services to nationally recognized brands such as Chase, Make-A-Wish and Donatos.

Shroy tells GoodCall that companies should provide as much stability as possible. “All of my contractors let me know in advance how many hours they’d like to work each week and on which days; based on their preferences, which may be financially-driven, I pair them up with clients who have similar needs for their time.” Shroy says this has helped her to attract and retain a high-performing team.

She also thinks that companies should pay attention to time zones, especially when scheduling appointments and meetings to ensure the meetings are not outside of a contractor’s workday hours. “If this is unavoidable, rotate the times for meetings each week to ensure West Coast team members are not always waking up early for meetings and that East Coast employees are not staying on too late.”

Lastly, Shroy believes that socialization is important. She admits that it can be expensive to bring everyone together when they are spread out all over the country. “But I find that the benefit that comes from this face-to-face social time far outweighs the cost.”

Whether bringing the group together for dinner or having a team-building activity, she says it’s important to have these times together. “I think investing in socializing will pay off when you’re only going to be communicating virtually for months in-between; building relationships is critical to success, and while it’s tricky to do working remotely, it’s not impossible.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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