Monthly Archives: April 2016

Freelancing by Choice

More and more freelancers are choosing to work independently because they want to, not because they have to, new research finds.

The study from Upwork and theFreelancers Union revealed that 63 percent of independent workers started freelancing by choice, as opposed to necessity. That’s up 10 percentage points since 2014.

Workers may be choosing to freelance in order to improve their income security, the study found. Having a diversified portfolio of clients makes freelancers feel more secure than having just one employer, the research showed. Specifically, nearly 80 percent of the independent workers surveyed said they view freelancing as better than working a traditional job. In addition, half of those surveyed said they wouldn’t go back to a traditional job, no matter how much money they were offered.

Overall, freelancers now represent 35 percent of the total U.S. workforce. The freelance workforce grew to 55 million this year, up 1.3 million from 2015.

“The freelance workforce is the fastest-growing component of the economy,” Louis Hyman, an associate professor and director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, said in a statement. “Figuring out where it is going is the most pressing question of our digital age.”

Freedom and flexibility are driving the growth of freelancing. The full-time freelancers surveyed said the top three reasons they work independently are to be their own bosses, to have flexibility in when they work and to have flexibility in where they work. [See Related Story: 6 Essential Tools for Your Freelance Business ]

Despite 54 percent of respondents making more than they did in their full-time jobs, income predictability is still a concern for freelancers. Struggling to be paid a fair rate, having irregular income and dealing with debt issues were the top three concerns of full-time freelancers.

Health benefits are also an issue for many freelancers. The study shows that 20 percent of full-time freelancers don’t have health insurance and 54 percent who purchased it on their own paid more this year than last year.

Knowing that their numbers are growing, freelancers would appreciate political leaders paying more attention to their interests and concerns. Seventy percent of those surveyed said there needs be more discussion of how to empower the independent workforce, a response that is up 7 percentage points from 2015.

“Now’s the time for business leaders, policy makers and candidates alike to stand up and take notice of [freelancers] potential influence and to start developing ways to help them overcome the most pressing issues impacting their lives,” said Sara Horowitz, the founder and executive director of the Freelancers Union.

Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel said freelancers want to know that America supports them.

How to find The Job That Makes You Happy

If you find yourself unhappy at your corporate job, try looking for work at a smaller company.

The happiest employees work for businesses with fewer than 10 workers, according to a study from the staffing firm Robert Half and happiness and well-being expert Nic Marks. Specifically, on a scale of 0 to 100, workers in businesses with fewer than 10 employees have a happiness rating of 76, while those working for businesses with between 10 and 50 employees have a rating of 72.

Employees at larger organizations are the unhappiest. Workers at companies with 5,000 or more employees have a happiness rating of just 67, the lowest of all the groups studied. The average happiness score for all professionals surveyed was 71.

“This research shows a high level of happiness at work among professionals overall, but also demonstrates unique challenge areas by occupation and company size,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, said in a statement.

When broken down by industry, the results show that those in education and training, as well as marketing and design have the highest levels of on-the-job satisfaction, while finance workers have the lowest. [See Related Story:Want Happy Employees? Make Hiring Harder]

Nothing drives being happy at work more than having pride in your employer. The study found that employees who feel proud of their organizations are three times more likely to be happy than workers who are not. Feeling appreciated and being treated with fairness and respect are the other top influencers of workplace happiness, the research showed.

“Work can be difficult and demanding, but if employees feel proud of what their organization does, respected as a person and appreciated for what they do, then they tend to be happy and do better work as a result,” Marks said.

Why your happiness matters

Being happy at work provides a number of benefits for both employees and employers. Past research from Horizons Workforce Consulting found that nearly two-thirds of happy employees report consistently putting in extra effort at work, while a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology discovered that those with high levels of on-the-job satisfaction also volunteer for optional tasks, help others and are more cooperative compared to unhappy workers.

“Happier people tend to care more about their work, so they put in greater effort,” Marks said. “This also means they are quicker to notice when things are not going right and take action to prevent negative outcomes.”

The Robert Half report also found that happy workers tend to be more innovative, create and healthy. Additionally, employees with high levels of job satisfaction are less likely to look for new job opportunities.

McDonald said organizations should not take lightly the effort to make sure employees are happy.

“Happiness is not a nice-to-have, but a necessity for a productive and successful business,” he said.

“[It’s] a genuine win-win — great for employees and great for employers,” Marks added.

How to Boosts Your Career

For many employees, the workday doesn’t end when they’re done with their 9 to 5. A new study fromCareerBuilder revealed that nearly 30 percent of employees are working side jobs.

Whether it’s because they want to make some extra money or pursue another field, moonlighting is common, especially among younger workers. Specifically, 44 percent of workers ages 25 to 34, and 39 percent of those ages 18 to 24, have side jobs. That compares to 29 percent of workers ages 35 to 44, 22 percent of workers ages 45 to 54, and 19 percent of workers ages 55 and older.

The study found that professionals at all income levels are working side jobs. Nearly 20 percent of employees who earn more than $75,000 per year, and 12 percent of those making more than $100,000 per year, are working a job outside their full-time position. In comparison, 34 percent of workers who make less than $50,000 per year, and 34 percent of those who earn less than $35,000 per year, also have side jobs.

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said having a side job not only provides employees with a little extra money but also makes them more attractive to potential future employers. [See Related Story:Interviewing for a Job? 4 Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd]

“When you’re applying to jobs, especially when you’re at the start of your career, other applicants could have more experience in your particular field,” Haefner said in a statement. “If you bring more skill sets to the table and have a unique perspective on how things can be done, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd and be seen as a valuable potential hire.”

The research found that employees working in the leisure and hospitality, retail, and transportation industries are the most likely to moonlight. Some of the most common side jobs include the following:

  1. Survey taker
  2. Child care worker
  3. Consultant
  4. Freelance writer
  5. House sitter
  6. Blogger
  7. Bartender
  8. Photographer/videographer
  9. Website designer
  10. Tutor

Most workers don’t plan to turn their side job into a full-time gig: More than 70 percent of those with a side job said they have no intention of making it their full-time position. In addition, many workers surveyed said they are more passionate about their day jobs than their side jobs.

The study was based on surveys of more than 3,200 workers in the private sector across a variety of industries and company sizes.