The Gig Economy Study

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Survey Finds That Companies Intend to Hire More Freelancers And Drop Healthcare Benefits Due to Affordable Care Act
ACA Triggering Nearly One-Third to Cut Healthcare and 74% to Hire More Freelancers
Minneapolis, MN, April 26, 2016 – Field Nation, the leading online work platform for connecting businesses and workers, and Future Workplace, an executive development firm dedicated to rethinking and re-imagining the workplace, today announced the results of a new study entitled “The Gig Economy”. Following a national survey of 600 HR decision makers and 959 freelancers, we found that the Affordable Care Act is triggering companies to hire more freelance workers, especially since 2016 is when the tax penalty for uninsured workers is the highest at $695 per employee. 68 percent of companies said that ACA will have a high impact on hiring more freelance workers and as a result, 74% will contract with more freelancers.

60 percent of companies plan to hire more freelancers than full-time employees. 45 percent  expect to increase their hiring of freelancers by 30% or more and nearly a third expect to continue to hire relatively more freelance workers by 2020.

Two macro trends are converging to expedite the blended workforce of full-time and freelance workers: an increased ease of discoverability of available and skilled freelancers at a time of peak ACA related cost drivers.  38 percent of freelancers are now being sourced through specific freelance worker sites, narrowing the sourcing gap with general online job boards (43%) and employment agencies (39%). While 89% said healthcare benefits are key to attracting and retaining talent, nearly one-third of companies intend to eliminate them due to the ACA.  From the freelancer point of view, 60% said the ACA has impacted their workload in some way and 61% said they don’t currently subscribe to a freelancer-specific healthcare benefits plan.

In this new blended workforce, the key skill required is teamwork, both with other freelancers and full-time workers. Nearly all (93%) of companies already identify the blended workforce as they’re seeing freelance workers teaming up with employees to work on projects together. Based on the research, the top skill that employers derive from freelancers is teamwork (38%) yet the top skills that they lack include written communication (34%), leadership (33%) and teamwork (32%).

Additional highlights from the report include:

The livelihood of a typical freelance worker in America. 45% say that their typical freelance contract is for between 1 and 5 months in length and nearly 80% work less than 40 hours per week on 5 clients or fewer (53%).  More than half of freelancers surveyed said that their typical freelance relationship lasts greater than 10 months and may span multiple projects.

They are willing to make less money to gain freedom and flexibility. When asked what their primary satisfaction is as a freelancer, 40% said better control over their time, followed by 24% who said their ability to use their skills to do things on their own terms. A staggering 74% indicated their ideal employment situation is freelancing or small business ownership as opposed to having a traditional full time job.

The freelance career path is not taught in our school system. Fewer than one-third 73% said that they didn’t get help establishing themselves as freelancers yet 95% said their family has been at least somewhat supportive about the decision to go freelance.

The benefits and challenges of working with freelancers. Companies view the top benefits that freelancers have over full-time employees as having a more flexible team (46%), that they can often start working immediately (46%) and the ability to access specific niche skills (45%). Aside from benefits, the top concerns with managing freelancers include their availability (41%), their technical capabilities (35%) and managing a consistent brand experience (34%).

The strengths and weaknesses of freelance workers. The most valuable skills that they derive from freelancers are teamwork (38%), problem solving (36%) and self-management (32%), while the top skills that they lack include written communication (34%), leadership (33%) and teamwork (32%).

The way in which freelancers are evaluated and recognized. Companies evaluate freelancers based on the results of their projects (49%) and how well they work in a team (47%). They typically evaluate them multiple times each year (78%) and the most common incentive they use is bonuses (45%) followed by stronger future contracts (42%) and more money per project (41%).


“Spurred by competitive demands for more agile organizations, the world of work is pivoting to a blended workforce.  The combination of enabling technologies, societal attitudes, increased mobility, high workforce dissatisfaction, and the war for talent is disrupting the classical employer-employee model.  Top performing firms are leading the way.  Nearly 40% of top performing firms already have more than 30% of their labor force composed of contract/freelance workers with next year increases expected to be 30 – 60 – 90 % or more.”

Mynul Khan, CEO at Field Nation

“The trend of companies hiring more freelancers will continue annually, causing for an even more blended workforce, and creating new challenges for business leaders. The workforce is willing to make sacrifices, including compensation and benefits, in order to gain the freedom and flexibility afforded to the freelance career path.”

Dan Schawbel, Partner & Research Director, Future Workplace


Dan Schawbel, Partner & Research Director at Future Workplace,
Jillian Tyler, Digital Marketing Specialist at Field Nation,

About Field Nation

Field Nation the leading online work platform for connecting businesses and workers. Global enterprises to small local companies use Field Nation’s self-service web portal to find, manage and pay contractors for any specific job. The platform enables workers to spend more time working and enables businesses to manage the right talent anywhere in the world, on demand. Field Nation has more than 50,000 service providers in its network and serves businesses globally.

About Future Workplace

Future Workplace is an executive development firm dedicated to rethinking and re-imagining the workplace. Future Workplace works with heads of talent management, human resources, corporate learning, and diversity to prepare for the changes impacting recruitment, employee development and engagement. Future Workplace is host to the 2020 Workplace Network, our Executive Council includes 50 plus heads of Corporate Learning, Talent & Human Resources who come together to discuss debate and share “next” practices impacting the workplace and workforce of the future.