Guest Contributor: Philip Piletic
Freelancers have become the fastest-growing segment of the working population. In fact, it’s estimated that by the year 2020, they could represent up to 40% of the workforce.
Currently, over 53 million Americans, or 34% of the U.S. workforce, engages in some kind of freelance work. In Australia, according to a 2015 survey, an estimated 4.1 million workers were freelancing, and that number has continued to increase.
While millennials aren’t the only group embracing the newest form of entrepreneurialism, there are a number of reasons millennials are embracing it so enthusiastically.
Here are four reasons millennials love freelancing:
Millennials grew up with rapidly changing technology and are highly aware of the many advantages it provides. One of those advantages is the ability to work from anywhere. Before the advent of wireless internet, smartphones, and tablets, it was necessary for workers to perform their duties in an office, tethered to a desk. This generation of workers sees no good reason for the added expense of a time and energy-consuming daily commute to and from an office. With statistics showing that millennials check their phones an average of 43 times a day, constant communication renders their physical presence unnecessary.
Millennials have redefined the concept of compensation to include much more than just a salary. However, many millennials carry the extra financial weight of student loans. In many cases, freelancing can be more lucrative than jobs traditionally held by college students or recent graduates. For example, the average wage in the food and beverage industry is $9.16 per hour, compared to the average of $21.00 per hour calculated by LinkedIn’s ProFinder.
According to CareerFoundry, the average earnings for freelancers have increased by 50% in the last five years. Even part-time freelancers working 10 to 15 hours per week can earn more than $12,000 per year. There are a greater number of freelancing opportunities available than ever before, even for those less technologically inclined. TaskRabbit is a service that allows students to earn money running errands, and Postmates is a delivery service. For those who enjoy working outdoors, Nextdoor offers gardening and yardwork services. The pay for freelancers in with these companies ranges from $10 to $20 per hour.
Flexible schedules and choosing their own projects are considered valuable fringe benefits, perhaps even more valuable than job security. Research shows 40% of those questioned listed a flexible schedule as the number one reason for their choice to freelance. One report concluded that 45% of millennials consider workplace flexibility more important than pay, and the lack of it is one of the top reasons they are likely to quit a job. Compared to older workers, millennials also place greater importance on the opportunity to learn new skills, with 30% listing the ability to choose their own projects as highly important.
Six out of ten millennials in a recent study listed a sense of purpose as an important consideration in choosing a freelance career. Specifically, they want their work to have a positive impact on both their private lives and on the world at large. Freelancing provides a good way to achieve a healthy balance between their work and their personal and family lives. That balance results in a higher rate of employee engagement. While there is less job security and fewer benefits such as paid time off, there are now unions that offer health insurance and other discounts.
Many employers have begun to embrace freelancing as enthusiastically as millennials have. According to a global survey of CEOs, 81% believe that technological advances will continue to transform their businesses in a positive way. Freelance workers save businesses many of the expenses of traditional brick- and- mortar operations. It also saves them the time and expense of interviewing candidates, since freelancing services provide that service for their clients. Utilizing a combination of applicant portfolios, social media profiles, skillsets, and recommendations from previous clients, they ensure that employers will get the right person for the right project. In the future, most businesses are likely to have a hybrid model consisting of both permanent employees and freelancers.
Philip Piletic’s primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business and marketing. He’s a freelancer, writer and traveler who loves to share his experience with others by contributing to online communities and helping others achieve success. Learn more at: www.itic.com.au .