02 Aug, 2012

UK’s flexible workforce is still positive

02 Aug, 2012

This is just one of the fascinating results which SJD Accountancy, the UK’s largest accountancy firm for contractors and freelancers, announced today – following a detailed survey which was carried out in July across its 11,000+ contractor client base.

More than 1,000 clients responded to the 30 question survey, giving a unique insight into the contractor market in the UK today. These findings provide valuable information for both contractors and their clients alike on the subjects that matter most, and will also help contractors to understand more about the community in which they work.

Against a backdrop of economic negativity, the survey found a high level of enthusiasm within the contractor community and a number of far more positive responses than might have been expected. Results included:

  • 57% said that contracting improved their work/life balance
  • 77% find being a contractor more satisfying than being an employee
  • Two thirds felt positive about the state of the contracting market
  • 86% have positive feelings about being a contractor
  • Three quarters are positive about the general outlook of the contractor market, despite almost a third saying they have seen rates being cut in the last six months
  • 47% have seen no change in rates, with just 18% seeing rates increase
  • 76% don’t miss the benefits of being an employee
  • Less than 7% would go back to permanent if an offer was made available
  • Less than 2% found their contract via LinkedIn
  • Fifth of all contractors found their contract via Jobserve, with a quarter catching up on their contractor news on the PCG website, closely followed by Contractor UK
  • 43% were less than satisfied with their recruiter

When asked how they felt about the current state of the contracting market, about their general outlook on it, almost two thirds of responders scored 4 or above on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the most positive. This clearly indicates a high level of overall positivity in the outlook of the contracting market as a whole. On the subject of their overall feelings towards being a contractor themselves, two thirds scored 5 or above, which shows a very high level of personal positivity about being a contractor.

More than 75% of those surveyed had made a conscious decision to choose contracting as a way of life, and 88% stated that they would class themselves as a ‘committed contractor’, clearly indicating that people are committed to contracting as a way of life and as a long term career option.

More than 50% stated that there had been a positive effect on their work/life balance since becoming a contractor – and over three quarters said they find contracting more satisfying than being an employee, confirming also that they do not miss the benefits. Only 7% of those surveyed said they would definitely go back to being an employee if the offer was available. In fact, only 3% said that they are unlikely to still be contracting in the next couple of years – and of the other 97%, more than three quarters said they will definitely still be contracting in two years time.

The survey found that the main things that responders enjoy about contracting are higher rates of pay, coupled with more freedom and flexibility in the way they live their lives. These came out clearly above over all others, but were closely followed by no office politics, variety of work, a better work/life balance, being viewed as an industry expert and skill development. Lastly, over two thirds of those surveyed fully expected to be contracting for as long as they have, demonstrating a clear plan, and a commitment to that plan, as a life choice.

Looking at earnings next, over 90% of contractors said that they are earning more than they were as a permanent employee. In fact, over one third are earning more than £500 a day, with almost another third earning between £400 and £500 a day. Two thirds of those surveyed said they have seen rates increase, or at least remain the same, although one third acknowledged that rates had dropped, which is unsurprising in the current climate but still lower than might be expected.

When looking at the specific of the ‘contracts’ which responders were currently undertaking, the survey found that just 10% of those asked were not currently in a contract or about to start one, clearly indicating that the majority of contractors are able to find, and keep, a contract on an ongoing basis.

When asked about how they found their current role, more than a third stated that they used their own contacts or got it though recommendation, demonstrating the importance of building and maintaining a personal industry network.

The survey included two key questions about people’s views on the ease of finding a contract. Almost two thirds of those surveyed said it was very easy or relatively easy to secure their most recent contract, and half stated it had been easier to secure their most recent contract than their previous one, again clearly indicating that the contractor market is alive and well despite a backdrop of uncertainty.

Commenting on these findings, Simon Dolan Managing Director for SJD accountancy, said: “We were delighted to find that so many of our clients took the time to complete the survey, and we have been pleased to be able to pass the findings back to them, to help them feel more a part of the contractor community in which they work. The statistics we have gathered clearly show that the contracting industry is still doing well and that this way of life offers huge benefits for people who choose to step away from full time employment – preferring a more flexible and rewarding way of life instead.”

Credit: onrec.com