Interesting projects more important than rates

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Contractors often cite the freedom to move around and pick their own projects as one of the biggest advantages of self-employment. It seems that professionals across a range of industries value the same flexibility, as a new study has demonstrated that professionals tend to care more about working on interesting projects than they do about high rates of pay.

Even among professionals who choose to work as employees, taking on roles in a range of different environments is seen as an important part of career development. More than four out of ten workers said that they believed they should change jobs at least every three years - and two per cent would move as frequently as once a year.

Marketers were the most likely to change frequently, with 57 per cent saying they should change jobs at least once every three years. Half of IT professionals said the same, while projects and risk professionals were also likely to switch employers this often. The fact that these are all roles filled by high proportions of contractors is therefore probably not surprising.

But job satisfaction was determined by a number of factors. Top of the list was a good work-life balance, deemed ‘very important’ by 60 per cent of professionals, while 52 per cent also said that they considered how interesting they found their everyday work to be one of their main priorities.

Significantly, both of these factors scored more highly than remuneration and benefits in determining how satisfied professionals were with their jobs. But at the same time as they were seeking a good work-life balance, employees were finding themselves working even longer hours. Nearly three out of ten professional employees said they were working 50-hour weeks or more, compared to just 19 per cent in 2011.

Professionals paid little attention to the status or responsibility they were given at work - just 28 per cent considered this a very important element of their job satisfaction. But they did want to see their work make an impact on their employers as a whole. IT professionals were the clearest example of this, as 78 per cent of them felt that their personal achievements had positively affected the entire business.

If employees are finding it increasingly difficult to marry heavy workloads with time to enjoy a social or family life, this may account for why so many highly skilled workers turn to the flexibility and variety offered by freelance and contract work.

Geographical freedom is also emerged as an important factor in working decisions. Three-quarters of respondents said that they either had or would like to undertake projects abroad and nearly half felt that this could be crucial to their long term career progression. Nevertheless, over two-thirds said they were in favour of working in different countries as a means of enjoying a wider range of life and work experiences - a sentiment shared by thousands of contractors around the world who are making the most of their freedom to choose their projects.

By Victoria McDonnell

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