In a significant shift in the employment landscape, over 58 percent of professionals currently in full-time permanent positions have expressed openness to transitioning into contract roles, driven primarily by the promise of better pay and the evolving economic climate.

According to the latest findings from the Contractor Recruitment Guide, released by staffing firm Walters People, professionals are reconsidering their career choices in light of changing work dynamics and opportunities offered by contract positions.

The survey highlights that a substantial portion of the workforce, 43 percent, views the current economic climate as a primary driver for contemplating a switch to contract employment.

This change in sentiment is indicative of the growing comfort professionals have developed with the idea of non-permanent roles, as the once steadfast allure of job security in permanent positions becomes less pronounced in a turbulent economy.

Financial compensation stands out as a key motivator for this transition, with 58 percent of respondents indicating that they would consider leaving their permanent roles for better-paid contract opportunities.

Contract employees, the report reveals, can earn up to £30,000 more annually compared to their permanent counterparts performing similar job functions. The analysis underscores that, while permanent jobs often come with a set of soft perks valued at around £1,200 per year, the financial disparity between permanent and contract roles is proving to be a decisive factor.

What about company culture?

Interestingly, the traditional emphasis on company culture and workplace perks appears to be on the decline. Only a mere 11 percent of professionals consider these factors to be significant deterrents when evaluating contract roles. This shift in priority reflects the changing mindset of professionals, who increasingly value financial gains and work flexibility.

Walters People’s research also highlights the practicalities behind the growth of contract work. Employers are increasingly turning to contractors due to the speed at which they can be hired, with 40 percent citing swift hiring as their primary motivation.

In contrast, only 27 percent hire contractors for their specialised skillsets. This finding contradicts the misconception that contract work is solely tailored for highly experienced or specialised individuals, shedding light on the broader potential of contract roles for professionals across various seniority levels.

Success

The survey also examines the characteristics considered crucial for success in a contract role. Surprisingly, only 21 percent of respondents attribute success to skills or experience. Instead, attributes such as being hardworking and goal-driven (36%) and possessing a wide network of contacts (29%) were deemed more important. The ability to work autonomously (14%) emerged as another vital trait.

Addressing the shifting landscape, Janine Blacksley, Director of Walters People, commented, “The gig economy is gaining prominence as professionals increasingly find appeal in job flexibility and financial gains over the traditional notion of lifelong job security. Contract roles provide individuals with an opportunity to contribute to projects, leverage their skills, and explore diverse industries.”

The report also emphasises the potential for contract roles among young professionals adopting a ‘job-hopping’ approach to career advancement. Junior professionals, especially those with up to three years of experience, are ideally suited for contract positions due to their shorter average tenures in permanent roles.

Work-life balance is significant

An intriguing finding is the significance of work-life balance for contract professionals, with 46 percent considering it a key attraction. In the UK, a striking 74 percent of contractors currently work remotely, aligning with the work-life balance aspirations of the modern workforce.

The study concludes that contract roles, once considered outside the norm, are rapidly becoming an attractive option for professionals seeking financial growth, work flexibility, and a dynamic career trajectory. With the rise of remote work and evolving economic conditions, the perception of job security is evolving, paving the way for a thriving gig economy.

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.