A whopping 81.5 percent of professionals in the accounting, data analysis, human resources and IT fields are considering resigning from their jobs to go freelance, according to a survey by the online talent platform Outsized. Photo: Pixabay
A whopping 81.5 percent of professionals in the accounting, data analysis, human resources and IT fields are considering resigning from their jobs to go freelance, according to a survey by the online talent platform Outsized. Photo: Pixabay

More professionals keen to give up day jobs to start their own businesses

By Given Majola Time of article published Aug 24, 2021

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A WHOPPING 81.5 percent of professionals in the accounting, data analysis, human resources and IT fields are considering resigning from their jobs to go freelance, according to a survey by the online talent platform Outsized.

The survey, conducted by the provider of on-demand freelancers and independent consultants to the financial services and management consulting industries in South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, found that a quarter of its 200 respondents said that they were already in the process of taking that leap.

Of these, 37 percent saw it happening in the next few weeks or months, and only 10 percent admitted it was more of a long-term fantasy.

The survey respondents were well-qualified to succeed independently, with every respondent holding a university degree and 64 percent having five to 10 years of experience.

Another 20 percent had 10 to 15 years of experience while 16percent were industry veterans of more than 15 years.

Outsized South Africa managing director Johann van Niekerk said skilled professionals were keen to take more control over their careers and their lives for a variety of reasons.

“Factors fuelling the desire to market their skills independently include the potential to earn more money, flexible working hours to suit family life, gaining broader experience and new skills, and taking more control for themselves,” he said.

The greatest attraction for quitting the corporate world was the ability to enjoy a better work/life balance, followed by the potential to earn more, to pick and choose the work they do, to have more control over their destiny and to enhance their CV.

However, the risk of financial instability with the loss of their corporate pension and medical aid and worries about the administration involved in working for themselves were said to be holding them back. The fear of making such a dramatic change in their life was also a key concern for many.

Van Niekerk said the findings suggested that fresh opportunities rather than actual dissatisfaction with their current jobs were driving this potential corporate exodus.

“But it still poses a significant threat to companies in the form of a brain drain, adding to the damage already done by the Covid lockdowns.”

On the positive side, it also created a new talent pool for companies that were reassessing how they would operate in the future. Many businesses have cut their workforce as sales dropped or demand for their services fell. Instead of carrying too many staff, companies could be more inclined to hire talent on an ad hoc basis for specific projects or fixed-term contracts.

If sufficient numbers of professionals follow through on their dream of independence that would create a large and flexible pool for companies to draw on. And as companies hire freelancers rather than employ permanent staff, more jobs would become available for those professionals who took the plunge, making supply and demand balancing out to benefit everyone.

The Outsized survey found that the nudge many of the professionals needed to turn this desire for independence into reality was the promise of guaranteed work while they found their feet as freelancers.

In a question asking whether they would be more likely to resign in the near future if Outsized could guarantee them a six-month contract, a convincing 60 percent said yes. Another 31 percent said it would depend on how good the job on offer was, and 6percent said they would feel more confident with a year of promised work. Only 3percent would still hesitate even if work was guaranteed.

International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures, based on a sample of 58 countries, show that employment fell by 11.2 percent for young men and 13.9percent for young women in the second quarter of 2020. The effect on young men and young women in middle-income economies was around double that, the ILO said.

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