In 2018, working Millennials comprise of 35% of the American labor force, according to Pew Research. Defined as those who are born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials represent the majority generation in the US workforce.
As the youngest generation in the workforce today, Millennials have the power to shape the future of work, and to transform the conventional expectations of a career. And where is that future heading? To the freelance economy.
According to a MetLife study report in USA Today, “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.” That is a significant number. Compare that to Millennials’ elders: only 57% of Gen X and 43% of Baby Boomers felt that same way.
Redefining the Career Path
Generations are becoming more and more tech-savvy, and it’s no doubt that technology has been incredibly impactful on the lives and careers of Millennials. Jobs that exist today did not exist five or ten years ago, and companies have more knowledge and resources to source talent from all over the world.
Being in their twenties and thirties, Millennials are at the critical early-to-mid stages of their careers. They also have a unique understanding of work. For example, company loyalty and the corporate ladder are no longer the requirements — nor the expectation — to have a successful career.
In the aforementioned study, MetLife found that 40% of Millennials had the intention “to leave their full-time employers to work as a freelancer in five years.” Millennials are ready to redefine their careers and deviate from expectation, and they’re ready to start this change now. In fact, according to the Freelancing in America: 2017 study, 47% of Millennials are already freelancing.
Of course, Millennials are not the only ones looking to freelance. Over half of today’s workers expect that their positions and functions will disappear over the next 20 years. The freelance economy is growing at such a momentous rate that the Freelancing in America: 2017 study projects that, by 2027, a majority of the American labor force will be freelancers.
The Future is Freelance
The work-life balance and higher rate of income make freelancing a desirable career path for many. Especially for those who have financial burdens or family commitments, self-employment can allow flexibility that full-time employment cannot offer.
Freelancers experience different challenges, such as missing out on certain employee benefits, the risk of unpredictable income, and — for remote freelancers — lack of human interaction. However, to many these downsides don’t begin to counter the immense benefits of a freelance lifestyle, where a worker has much more control over their life, their work, and their career. While the stability of a steady paycheck may appear more desirable, 63% of freelancers believe that working with a diversified portfolio of clients is more secure than being employed by a single company (Freelancing in America: 2017).
The results are in. The future of work is freelancing. The older end of Gen Z (those born after 1996) are starting to work now, too, and the trend looks consistent. As an employer, are you ready to meet the demands of these generations? As a worker, are you ready to take your career into your own hands?