CWS 3.0: September 7, 2011 - Vol. 3.23

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News: Have Choices, Will Temp

It’s a new age for workers in the United States — and independent workers are a big part of this labor force. There are some 16 million independent workers in the United States today, spanning multiple generations. Further, 28 million Americans are considering becoming independent within the next two years. These were the results of recent report by MBO Partners Inc., a firm that provides a business platform for independent contractors.

Numbers notwithstanding, what managers will find interesting from this survey is that 55 percent of independent workers polled said it was their choice to become independent and 63 percent said they will remain an independent worker regardless of the reason that motivated their choice. There are some tips to take away from this. People are shifting from wanting to be employees to being contingents. So CW managers: adjust your expectations. People are ‘temps’ because they want to be. So treat them well. They will talk with others about how they were treated and your company culture. So making sure their experience at your organization is good could mean attracting better quality workers in the future.

At the same time, the survey found that 60 percent of independent workers stated that they were highly satisfied with their work situation. Compare that with employees: about half said they were unhappy and 70 percent said they were disengaged. You can’t blame only the economy for their woes. How you manage your employees in these times is an important factor, as well.

Independent workers are enjoying their autonomy. They relish the entrepreneurial aspects of their careers and appreciate being in control. Employees, on the other hand, are having a tough time with downsizing and having to produce more with less. Independent workers feel in control and are motivated by passion for what they do. Companies need to recognize that workers — contingent or employee — need to feel valued and appreciated, or managers are not going to get the job done.

Independent workers, as measured by the survey either are either working

  • With a fixed-term contract
  • As an Independent consultant
  • Through a temporary agency
  • On an on-call arrangement (contract work that is based on being ready to serve)
  • As a business owner with less than five employees.

Independent workers are motivated by greater work-life flexibility. And while 63 percent said they plan to continue as an independent worker, only 19 percent said they planned to seek a permanent full-time job. The key reason among those seeking a permanent full-time position was more predictable income.

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