Self employed professionals are the happiest

Friday 30 January 2015

Those who are considering becoming a contractor or setting up a business may find that their happiness levels benefit from this. New research shows that self employed workers are the happiest in the UK.

A team from Brighton University's business school quizzed 304 freelancers working in the creative, digital and IT sectors about their satisfaction levels, with the help of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

They looked into such aspects as pay, working hours and general happiness of the freelancers, all of whom were working in the south of England. Results showed that these workers were happiest being their own boss compared to previous roles that had undertaken.

According to the Office for National Statistics, 31 million people are currently employed in the UK. Of these, 4.6 million are currently self employed.

In the case of the sample group, many of them had been made redundant from a previous role and turned to self employment, finding that they were much happier this way.

Through being self employed, these workers get the flexibility to decide their own working hours, set their own rates of pay and consider which clients they would like to work with. These could all be potential factors as to why so many reported increased levels of happiness.

On average, freelancers worked for around 38 hour per week and earned a yearly wage of £43,000. This is significantly higher than the current national average wage of £25,000.

Wellbeing levels of self employed professionals is in line with national averages and they enjoy this mode of work as well as the fact that it is autonomous. When asked whether they prefer to be self employed to being a traditional employee, 94 per cent said that they did.

Dr Jonathan Sapsed of Brighton University's business school told the Sunday Times: "For many, freelancing is emerging as the ideal lifestyle, especially in creative and digital industries where people can work from any location, including home, and which demand high levels of innovation.

"Many had indeed been made redundant by their former employers, but far from struggling to get by, many were doing well and said it was the best thing that could have happened to them."

At present, creative industries account for a growing proportion of the UK economy that is bigger than construction, advanced manufacturing and financial services.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey also welcomed the research, noting that the digital economy in the UK is one of the strongest markets in the world and that the creative industries generate £71 billion in revenue every year and support 1.71 million jobs.

He said: "This study shows that the self-employed play a key role in driving the culture of innovation in the creative and digital industries and are a vital part of Britain's economic growth."

By Victoria McDonnell

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