- As employers must compete for skilled permanent employees in today's tight labor market, they also must compete the same way for independent workers, according to a report by MBO Partners. The firm, a solutions provider for independent workers and their clients, defines "independent worker" as a person who offers a service, rather than a product, to businesses.
- Independent work is a viable career choice for 7.3 million people; the population of independent workers has grown 62% since 2011, according to the report. MBO Partners says independent workers have skills not always found in the workplace.
- The report also shows that independent workers cite their clients of choice as those who appreciate their work, treat them as valuable team members and pay them well. And independent workers certainly have choice: 82% of independent workers said they have some or a lot of choices among clients. The top reasons cited for remaining independent include flexibility (59%), control over their schedules (57%) and a desire or need to earn more money (47%).
Independent workers, also called independent contractors, freelancers, gig workers, consultants and contingent workers, have grown in such large numbers over the past two decades that they've become a force that businesses, and even lawmakers, can't ignore. Studies differ on growth rates, but most sources agree that independent workers could make up the majority of the workforce within the decade.
Independent workers allow businesses the flexibility they themselves enjoy. Employers can adjust staffing levels as needed and dispense with offering benefits and prerequisites that permanent employees receive. These cost-saving measures can be significant. But, perhaps most importantly in a time of talent shortages, employers can create talent pipelines of independent workers with high-level skills, so they have a pool of talent to tap into for a range of projects and assignments.
By examining how and why independent workers select their clients, the MBO Partner's report gives employers an idea of the client traits these workers prefer. Employers can use the information to adapt their programs to better suit independent workers.