HR · 30 July 2018

Skills over a pay rise? 4 ways to improve self-employed job satisfaction

Self-employed workers were more likely to enjoy their job than employees

Is personal development more important to you than a pay rise?

According to a new study from the IPSE trade body, developing skills and knowledge provides a greater sense of career progression for self-employed people than increasing annual turnover.

The Working Well for Yourself: What makes for good self-employment? report took the opinions of 800 self-employed people across the country about what constituted “good work” to them.

For a two-thirds majority of respondents, personal skills and knowledge development was the key measure of career progression – significantly higher than the 50% which cited increased annual turnover.

Other factors fared lower than those two indicators, with hiring employees cited by just 16% of self-employed people.

Overall, survey findings revealed that self-employed people enjoyed greater job satisfaction than regular employees, with 73% enjoying their career choice.

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Commenting on the report, Simon McVicker, IPSE’s director of policy, said its findings confirmed years of anecdotal evidence: Work satisfaction is generally very high among the self-employed.”

“Determining how the self-employed measure career progression is also hugely important. From this report, it’s clear that rather than seeing themselves as the next Richard Branson and wanting to build up a business empire – as policymakers are prone to think – most freelancers actually just want to hone their skills and become experts at what they do.

The report identified three areas most affecting job satisfaction of the self-employed: work/life balance, client relationships and payment culture.

Four separate recommendations were put forward to offer self-employed workers more opportunities to increase job satisfaction as well as business success.

  1. Encourage the self-employed to upskill

Through adult education vouchers and ensuring the self-employed benefit from the Apprenticeship Levy and the Flexible Learning Fund.

  1. Clarify client obligations and promote good practice

To ensure clients are able to work even more productively with the self-employed, while respecting their autonomy.

  1. Promote co-working and co-operatives

To help self-employed people support each other.

  1. Tackle late- and non-payment of invoices

By enshrining the Prompt Payment Code in law and giving the Small Business Commissioner tougher powers to act.

McVicker added: “At IPSE, we have been saying for some time that more needs to be done to open up access to training for the self-employed. These findings confirm our calls, and should act as a wake-up call to policymakers.

“If the government truly wants to promote ‘good work’ among the self-employed and ensure this way of working remains positive, the way is clear: it must do all it can to open up training and skills development opportunities for them.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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