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A growing number of Americans, especially Millennials, say they intend to become their own boss with the goal of flexible hours to make sure they don’t miss their kids’ ball games and ballet performances.
They want to take charge of their work schedules and are willing to go solo to make it happen, according to a new study.
When it comes to taking on a freelance role, 57% of workers say they’re interested, up from 51% in 2017, according to the latest annual report on employee benefits trends from financial services giant MetLife.
Millennials were the most interested in contractual rather than full-time work, with 74% of those in that age group saying they were curious about freelancing, as compared to 57% of those who comprise Generation X and 43% of older Baby Boomers.
Becoming their own boss is not just a point on a wish list. Roughly a quarter of those surveyed said they intend to leave their full-time jobs in the next five years in order to freelance. That’s compared to 17% who last year said they had similar plans.
Again, the move is being driven by younger workers. Four of every 10 Millennials intend to leave their full-time employers to work as a freelancer in five years. Only 23% of Gen X’ers and 13% of Boomers had the same goal.
“I would say the concept and prevalence of freelance work is much more apparent to people,’’ says Todd Katz, MetLife’s executive vice president of group benefits.“You can’t go anywhere without seeing (ride sharing services) Uber and Lyft, and I think people are asking themselves different questions about ‘how do I want to work?’ ’’
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The ubiquity of freelance opportunities is dovetailing with a growing desire by Americans to not miss out on important life events — taking time to enrich their kids’ lives, caring for elders — because they’re tethered to their desks.
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“They’re really looking for flexibility,” Katz says of those who are pondering leaving behind a full-time job for a more fluid work life.
The leading edge of Millennials, now roughly ages 18 to 35, are now reaching their prime earnings years. Boomers, those older than 55, are retiring in droves.
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But freelancing can have its drawbacks.
“You’’ll lose some of the benefits you get from being a full-time employee,” Katz says. “It could be the steady paycheck. It could be the employee benefit program. It could be paid vacations. It could be that human interaction that people really value in the workforce.”
Those potential downsides could be why workers in their 20’s and 30’s, who might have fewer financial responsibilities are far more likely to want to make the shift to contractual work.
“Millennials will be the majority of workforce in the not so distant future and that group is raising their hands and saying ‘freelance work is much more interesting to me,’ ’’ Katz says. On the other hand, older employees who have mortgages and stacks of other bills “might be less likely to take a risk.”
Employers have a stronger chance of holding onto their staffs if they’re willing to offer the flexibility many of their employees crave.
Among the poll’s respondents, 87% of those who said their company makes it possible to balance their jobs and personal life say they are satisfied at work and that they feel loyal to their employers.
“Employees say ‘I’ll feel more connected if you give me the flexibility that allows me to blend my work and private life in a way that works for me,’ ” Katz says. ” ‘If you do that, I’m going to be a more loyal employee.’ ”