Why the Gig Economy Is Not as Cool as as People Think

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Two-thirds of Americans who have worked as independent contractors in what is known as the “gig economy” would not choose to do so again. Less than half were satisfied with their experiences.

While 41% recognize the benefits of an independent contractor’s flexibility “to work where, when, and how they want,” more than half (56%) say the most important benefit of a full-time job is the steady income stream, something that independent contractors say they lack. The absence of any employer-paid benefits is also a negative, according to the independent contractors.

The data were reported on Thursday by Deloitte and based on a survey of about 4,000 workers in 13 major U.S. cities.

Besides the lack of a dependable income and benefits, there is another downside to being an independent:

[N]early half said that a lack of connection to a company’s culture would discourage them from working independently in the future. This also affects adaptation to a company’s culture, with nearly half (45 percent) of all respondents believing that it would be difficult for an independent contractor to understand and connect with a company’s internal culture. Forty-four percent of those who have worked as an independent contractor agreed, as did half of the millennial cohort who responded to the survey.

Millennials (53%) and Gen-Xers (50%) said that a company culture is extremely important to them. Only 40% of boomers say that culture is extremely important.

Still, a full third (34%) of respondents said they would consider independent contracting work. Interestingly, 46% of women said that independent contracting offers an advantage because the flexibility gives them the freedom to take care of “personal needs,” but just 27% of women are more likely to work as contractors. Perhaps that’s because less than half of women (45%) who worked as independent contractors were satisfied with the work. Exactly half of men were satisfied with independent contracting and 42% were more likely to work as contractors.

Deloitte’s chief talent officer summed up:

Today’s workforce wants the ability to choose how they work—full-time or contract work. Regardless of what they choose, they crave a holistic experience that combines good compensation and benefits with a focus on well-being and career development.

In other words, they want it all. And a pony.