Want a happier life? A new study shows that self-employment can pave the way

Self-employed people outperform all other workers when it comes to achieving the three main goals of American workers: spending enough time with family, living a fulfilling life, and “getting the most out of life.”

This finding appears in the MBO Partners 2023 Life Goals Report, recently published by MBO Partners, a provider of backend services for freelancers, in partnership with Flywheel Associate. The report uses insights from Flywheel’s annual work and career success survey.

Miles Everson, CEO of MBO Partners, says the report is a “wake-up call”.

“The shortage of human capital is probably one of the most important problems facing the company,” says Everson. “People don’t want to be full-time employees. You can deny it, but when you don’t have the ability to get the people you need because so many people have moved into the world of freelance professionals, you can ignore the data at your peril.”

Here are some of the findings:

· 63% of freelance workers say they manage to spend time with their families, compared to 55% of all US workers.

· 61% of independents say they manage to lead a fulfilling life, compared to 54% of all employees.

· 57% of freelancers say they get the most out of life, compared to 52% of all employees.

· 64% of independents said they were able to experience continuous personal development, compared to 54% of the US workforce.

Many traditional workers ask to take on a lot of administrative responsibility that makes their job thankless. “The number of people leaving their jobs is at an all-time high,” says Everson. “Work structures need to change to have an engaged workforce.”

The ability to selectively choose the type of work performed seems to contribute to the self-fulfilment of freelance workers. Many self-employed people fall into the “creator economy,” and their day-to-day work consists of projects they choose, notes Everson. They also have the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of delivering these projects to satisfied customers. “Doing productive work is rewarding,” says Everson.

While 41% of both freelancers and the workforce as a whole said they manage to create wealth, for some, independence comes with a financial trade-off. Nearly 50% of traditional workers are on track to retire, compared to 41% of freelance workers.

One interesting finding shows how independent workers and traditional workers weigh in on earning a steady income and doing enjoyable work.

The report found that the top three reasons people choose to work freelance are pursuing a passion, doing meaningful work, and a job they enjoy.

Generally speaking, the top three motivators for employees are a steady income, doing meaningful work, and working in a field they are passionate about.

Traditional workers are generally more satisfied with their income than independent workers, with 76% of traditional workers citing satisfaction, compared to 68% of freelance workers.

The most satisfied employees seem to be Digital Nomads. They outperformed independent and traditional workers in eight categories: helping others, spending enough time with family, ensuring a purposeful life, living a fulfilling life, getting the most out of life, continuing personal development, being on track for retirement, and creating wealth.

92% of digital nomads said they were very satisfied (81%) or satisfied (11%) with their job and lifestyle. Overall, they scored very high on getting the most out of life (79%), continuing personal development (74%), and ensuring their lives have a purpose (71%).

“There is no doubt that visiting new places, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people contributes to these high scores,” the report notes.

The findings are based on research from the MBO Partners State of Independence in America 2022 study, which was conducted in July 2022. Emergent Research and Rockbridge Associates surveyed 6,488 US residents aged 18 and over, including 934 independent workers. This current report also includes data from a study by Flywheel Associates.

According to Everson, more and more employees are “quietly leaving” or resigning, and more and more companies are starting to be more open to hiring freelance workers. he says. “This fear causes them to try something else and be more open minded.”

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