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Do you want a happier life? The self-employed can pave the way, a new study shows

by Ana Lopez
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The self-employed outperform all other workers when it comes to achieving the top three goals for American workers: spending enough time with their family, living a fulfilling life, and “getting the most out of life.”

This finding came in MBO Partners Life Goals Report 2023, recently released by MBO Partners, a provider of back office services to the self-employed, in partnership with Flywheel Associate firm. The report uses insights from Flywheel’s annual report Research into the state of affairs and career success.

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

“Human capital scarcity is perhaps one of the most important problems a company has,” says Everson. “People choose not to be a full-time employee. You can deny it, but if you are unable to find the people you need because so many people have moved into the world of independent professionals, you can ignore the data at your peril.”

Here are some of the findings:

· 63% of independent workers say they manage to spend time with their family, compared to 55% of US workers overall.

· 61% of the self-employed say they are successful in leading a fulfilling life, compared to 54% of all employees.

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

· 64% of self-employed said they were able to experience sustained personal growth, compared to 54% of the US workforce.

Many traditional workers are asked to take on a lot of administrative responsibility, which makes their jobs unpayable. “The number of people leaving their jobs is the highest ever,” says Everson. “Work structures need to change to have an engaged workforce.”

The ability to be selective about the type of work performed seems to contribute to the satisfaction of the independent workers. Many self-employed people are part of the “creator economy,” and their day-to-day work consists of projects they’ve chosen, notes Everson. They also have the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of delivering those projects to satisfied customers. “It’s satisfying to do productive work,” says Everson.

While 41% of both the self-employed and the total workforce said they were successful in creating wealth, for some there is a financial trade-off for independence. Nearly 50% of traditional workers are successfully on their way to retirement, compared to 41% of the self-employed.

An interesting finding reflects how independent workers and traditional workers weigh between earning a steady income and doing fun work.

The report found that the top three reasons people choose independent work are to pursue a passion, do meaningful work and do work they enjoy.

For employees in general, the top three drivers are earning a steady income, doing meaningful work, and working in a field they are passionate about.

Traditional workers are more satisfied with their income than the self-employed in general, with 76% of traditional workers being satisfied versus 68% of independent workers.

The most satisfied employees seem to be Digital Nomads. They outperformed independents and traditional workers in eight categories: helping others, spending enough time with family, ensuring a meaningful life, living a fulfilling life, getting the most out of life, continuing personal growth, heading into retirement, and creating wealth .

92% of Digital Nomads said they were very satisfied (81%) or satisfied (11%) with their work and lifestyle. They generally scored very high on getting the most out of life (79%), continuing personal growth (74%) and making sure their life has a purpose (71%).

“No doubt visiting new places, encountering new cultures and meeting new people all play a role in these high scores,” the report notes.

The findings were based on research from the 2022 MBO Partners State of Independence in America survey, which was conducted in July 2022. Emergent Research and Rockbridge Associates surveyed 6,488 U.S. residents age 18 or older, including 934 independent workers. This current report also includes data from the Flywheel Associates study.

With more employees “quietly quitting” or resigning outright, more companies are beginning to be more open to hiring independent workers, Everson said. “Companies are now worried that they won’t be able to get enough people to support their growth agenda,” he says. “That fear makes them try something different and have a more open mind.”

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