Strong Desire for Professional Independence by U.S. Workers Challenges Corporate Workforce Strategies; Global Study Reveals Independent Professionals More Satisfied Than Full-Timers.
The Lure of Autonomy: A Global Study of Professional Workers finds that unlike full-time professionals, IPros are not as motivated by traditional perks such as employment security, retirement benefits and paid vacations. These workers, who are generally slightly older and more experienced, are considerably more likely to value their workplace autonomy. While 86 percent of these workers were engaged in full-time employment with corporations before they became independent, it has been seven years since the typical IPro held a corporate job. The two groups, however, attach relatively similar levels of importance to achieving a high level of competence and knowledge, work-life balance, interesting work and compensation.
"This study is a serious wake-up call for employers because it suggests that they must fundamentally rethink the way they manage their workforce given the changes that are taking place," said Jon Chait, chairman and chief executive officer, Hudson Highland Group, Inc. "Smart employers are not only focusing on their full-time employees, but developing strategies to relate to and manage highly skilled professionals who are not under their direct control."
When asked about their satisfaction levels in their current job situation, full-timers in the U.S give the highest scores to paid vacation and the lowest to dealing with office politics. Polling also reveals that they report very low satisfaction on the attribute of employment security, which they rate as one of the most important to them. IPros generally cite greater satisfaction than their full-time counterparts with the type of work they do, the people with whom they work, their employer and the industry in which they work. Lack of paid vacation and retirement benefits are attributes with which IPros are least satisfied.
The job aspects that full-time professionals would most like to change include working fewer hours and having a more flexible schedule, while IPros cite the peaks and valleys of too much work, the need to market themselves while working on a project and the lack of a regular paycheck as their most serious challenges.
"Independent professionals are a cross-generational phenomenon that will play an increasingly critical role in the evolution of the U.S. workforce," said Robert Morgan, chief operating officer, Hudson Talent Management in North America. "This segment of non-traditional employees is fast approaching 10 percent of the total workforce and is expected to show continued strong growth in future years as millions of experienced, highly skilled professionals choose to work for themselves, either part- or full-time."
More information and an executive summary about the study are available at www.hudson-index.com.
About the study
"The Lure of Autonomy: A Global Study of Professional Workers", commissioned by Hudson Highland Group, Inc., surveyed well-educated and highly paid workers to compare what full-time professionals (FTPs) and independent professionals (IPros) want from their work experience and how well their current job situation satisfies them. The study, conducted from July through September 2005, looked at three regions of the world: the United States, Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom) and Australia.
With Richard Day Research, the company developed a Web-based survey that interviewed a total of 2,168 participants. The distribution by country was:
United States 1,012 Australia 197 Belgium 150 France 201 Germany 202 Netherlands 201 United Kingdom 205
The survey interviewed professionals in accounting/finance, legal, IT, sales/marketing and HR functions. Participants were screened according to individual (top ten percent in their country), educational level (at least a four-year college degree) and employer (for-profit companies). The pay received for professional work had to account for at least 50 percent of any participant's income.
For the purposes of the study, an independent professional was defined as "one who provides professional services to various for-profit companies as needed and based on availability."
To qualify as full-time, a respondent had to be "a full-time professional employee of a for-profit company that has at least 50 full-time professionals on staff." The final pool of participants--overall and in each country--was deliberately split about equally between the two groups.
While most professionals have access to computers, because this survey was web-based, not every professional in each country had an equal chance to be selected. As a result, traditional assumptions about a random sample poll did not apply. However, there was remarkable consistency in responses across the countries covered.
Hudson (www.hudson.com) delivers specialized professional staffing, outsourcing and human capital solutions worldwide. From single placements to total solutions, the firm helps clients achieve greater organizational performance by assessing, recruiting, developing and engaging the best and brightest people for their businesses.
Hudson is a division of Hudson Highland Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:HHGP), one of the world's leading professional staffing, retained executive search and human capital solution providers. The company employs approximately 3,800 employees in nearly 30 countries through its Hudson and Highland Partners businesses. More information about Hudson Highland Group is available at www.hhgroup.com.