Is the UK ready for the gig economy?

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Pay is still the ultimate driver for European employees.

A study of nearly 10,000 European working adults has revealed how employees feel about the future of work, including their willingness to embrace the gig economy. The research, from ADP, also indicates that as many as 63 per cent of UK employees and 68 per cent of European employees are interested in, or would consider self-employment or freelancing. The desire for this style of working does change drastically across regions.

Work-life balance

There are a multitude of factors playing into the increased prevalence of gig economy jobs. A third of employees say maintaining a work-life balance is the most important factor motivating them at work, and the gig economy is typically associated with workers being able to choose their own hours. However, self-employed workers in the UK actually consider themselves to have the poorest work life balance compared to the other industries, with only 81 per cent feeling that they have a good work life balance, compared to 84 per cent nationally.

Despite this, those who are already self-employed report higher levels of job satisfaction (75 per cent are satisfied vs. 70 per cent on average). 39 per cent of self-employed workers say that the key motivator for them is the ability to work where and when they want to, as well as having good work-life balance (30 per cent).

The desire for flexible working locations and hours does change drastically across different demographics. For instance, wishing for complete flexibility in working hours and location increases for older workers, whilst the interest in a mixed form of flexibility in hours and location decreases with age.

Is it all about the money?

Pay comes in as the most important factor in motivation and engagement (47 per cent), so it is no surprise that many people are taking jobs in which they can choose hours and therefore income levels. However, this could also indicate that many people are joining the gig economy out of necessity, rather than choice.

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK, says

“While the gig economy brings with it many benefits for both employers and workers, such as a varied and accessible talent pool and increased control over working hours, it can also be a challenging experience. Employers may lose individuals with valuable expertise, while the workers themselves may not gain the control they had hoped, due to the fear of turning down work and not being offered it again. Employers should ensure that they are providing excellent career development opportunities and that they treat workers respectfully so that they gain their loyalty and protect their brand, while people considering a gig economy job should think carefully before embarking on a freelance basis, ensuring they have carefully weighed up the positives and negatives associated with this working style.”

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