Why Contract Workers Feel Really Good About Their Jobs

Permanent employees often argue that contract work would be too stressful, given the lack of long-term career stability. However, a survey of contract workers suggests that being on a contract doesn’t mean not enjoying your job.

Picture by sean-b

Contractor services company Entity Solutions has just completed its third annual IPro Index, which quantifies how independent professional contractors (such as IT workers) feel about their jobs. (Independent contractors in this context typically sign up for a fixed period and work for a single employer, but are paid via an agency, such as Entity in this case, rather than directly by the company.)

We covered the 2009 survey in terms of contract workers seeing a pay decline and the 2010 one along the lines of why freelance workers are so happy, and we’ve already looked at one interesting aspect of the 2011 study: which song best represents your job.

Of the 2011 data, based on a survey of 375 workers and conducted by Monash University researcher Dr Tui McKeown, the page that jumped out at me discussed wellbeing. Here are the key statements that were offered and the main responses, all of which suggest that independent contractors are getting a lot of pleasure out of their careers:

  • At my work, I am bursting with energy. 29% said this happened “often” and 38% said “very often”.
  • At my job, I feel strong and vigorous. Similar numbers: 28% went for often and 37% for very often.
  • I am enthusiastic about my job. Again, the same pattern: 23% said often and 39% very often (and 22% went for “always”).
  • My job inspires me. 14% plumped for always, 29% for very often and 26% for often.
  • When I get up in the morning, I feel like going to work. The most common choice was very often, picked by 33%.
  • I feel happy when I am working intensively. 38% went for very often, and 27% for always.
  • I am proud of the work that I do. Similar numbers again: 34% said always and 38% said very often.

While being happier because you’re controlling your own career may seem an obvious outcome, similar studies overseas haven’t found the same levels of satisfaction. “Australia is ahead of the curve both in terms of the quality of [independent]workers, and in terms of practice,” McKeown noted.

Would you respond positively to those questions, whether you’re permanent, contract or freelance? Tell us in the comments.

Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.

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