Monthly Archives: May 2016

Income and Benefits Workers Are 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 the Freelancers 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.

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.

“Independent professionals are an increasingly integral part of the U.S. workforce,” Kasriel said. “We should be addressing their interests, or America will fall behind countries that are better equipping their evolving workforces.”

Help Your Boss Help You

You only get out of your career what you put into it, and that especially applies to your relationship with your boss. This is the person who will ultimately determine your path at the company, and you shouldn’t be afraid to “manage up” — that is, learn to adapt to your boss’s work style so you can give him or her the best performance and results possible.

“Not all managers work the same or have the same expectations, so if a lower-level employee learns how to adapt and serve a manager in a way that gets the work done better and faster, not only will that employee be recognized as a stellar performer, the business will excel and hopefully offer more opportunity for growth and advancement,” said Christine Barney, CEO and managing partner of rbb Communications.

In some cases, a boss doesn’t always have time to work closely with his or her team, said Guy Yehiav, CEO of prescriptive analytics company Profitect. It then becomes your responsibility to keep your boss updated on your projects and ensure that everything gets done, even if that means delegating tasks.

“In reality, this allows a lower-level employee to strengthen their skill set and put in place the leadership practices that they personally think are for the greater good of the company,” Yehiav added.

But you want to be careful when you’re having these conversations: To avoid seeming pushy or entitled, you’ll need to approach them professionally and respectfully. Here’s how to effectively manage up, and help yourself by helping your boss.

Earn your boss’s trust

If you want your manager to be receptive to your ideas and feedback, you must first truly earn his or her trust. You can do this by building up a friendly rapport with them to learn the way they work, said Samantha Lambert, director of human resources at Blue Fountain Media.

“You really have to have the right … chemistry with your boss to [manage up],” she told Business News Daily. “Lower-level employees are still learning and navigating through their careers, [but] … knowing how to adapt to or work with a boss will set them apart from the rest.”

Lambert advised workers to get to know their boss on a professional and personal level.

“Share about yourself, too, if you have the opportunity, because that is a level of curiosity, care [and] concern that can directly impact the [trust in a] work relationship,” she said.

Finally, check your ego at the door. Commit yourself to your manager’s and your company’s goals, and show them that you can be a reflection and extension of their success, said Lambert.

Give regular feedback (but don’t nag)

On any given day, managers are juggling a dozen “behind the scenes” tasks to oversee their other employees and answer to their own bosses. While your boss should be checking in with you regularly, you’re probably not the only person he or she has to worry about — if you’re not openly expressing your concerns and questions, your boss may not instinctively know you have them. That’s why it’s so important to offer your honest feedback.

“When your manager asks you for feedback, give it,” said Dominique Jones, chief people officer at Halogen Software, a provider of employee performance and talent management solutions. “Look at this as an important opportunity to … help yourself. A culture [of feedback] improves performance, advances personal development and improves employee engagement.”

It’s important to time your feedback properly, too. Barney reminded employees to be aware of their boss’s expectations and preferences when it comes to communication, and to understand when you might be perceived as helpful versus pushy.

Moonlighting Boosts Your Career Skills

For many employees, the workday doesn’t end when they’re done with their 9 to 5. A new study from CareerBuilder 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.

“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.