Work/life balance drives spike in contracting for UK employees this summer.

Work shift.

Research undertaken by Walters People has found almost half (40 per cent) of UK workers would consider working in a temporary, interim or contract position. The reasons cited for doing this include a better lifestyle (47 per cent), higher hourly pay (29 per cent), more flexibility (26 per cent) and exposure to new skills (19 per cent) as the main drivers. Regions where the ambition to contract is most prevalent include Wales (47 per cent), Yorkshire & Humber (44 per cent), East Midlands (42 per cent) and London (40 per cent). This is closely followed by the South West (39 per cent), West Midlands (38 per cent), North West (38 per cent) and the North East (33 per cent).

Further analysis shows that for the first time in 18 months contracting vacancies in the UK has seen a significant boost – increasing by 29 per cent in Q2 of this year. Regions which have seen the biggest increase in contract or interim vacancies over the past 3 months are Birmingham (+77 per cent), Manchester (+38 per cent), London (+37 per cent), Bristol (+32 per cent), and Leeds (+24 per cent).

“There are almost 5 million self-employed people in the UK – ten years ago, this number would have been in the tens of thousands,” said director of Walters People London, Phill Westcott. “This shift is not down to any one generation but is an indicator of where the mindset of the UK workforce is moving.

“Work/life balance, reticence to be part of corporate structures, lack of training or progression, unpaid overtime, exposure to new industries and the desire to seek out interesting project type work are just a few of the common reasons we often hear professionals who have made the contract-role switch or would like too.”

The desire to contract is most prevalent for professionals in Technology & IT (48 per cent), Procurement & Supply Chain (46 per cent), and Banking & Financial Services (45 per cent). For professional industries (41 per cent) – such as Banking & Financial Services, Legal, and Tech & IT –‘ higher hourly pay’ was the leading reason why employees would consider contracting. For the creative industries (36 per cent) – such as Marketing, Advertising and PR – ‘more flexibility’ was the leading reason why employees would consider contracting or interim work.

“It’s fantastic to see that companies are now realising the benefits of contractors and a flexible workforce, rather than seeing it as a response to climate or business conditions,” Westcott adds. “Quick-turnaround projects, access to specialised skills and expertise, and reduction of lag time between hiring and full productivity is just some of the benefits of hiring contractors.”

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