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boy unhappy plate of broccoli

Broccoli tastes good: The benefits of contingent work

July 15, 2014

Remember the days when your mother dumped a large helping of broccoli on your plate? You made a face and couldn’t possibly understand why she thought you might actually like those mini trees. “They are healthy and good for you,” your mother explained. “Eating this will make you strong.” So you tried it. Hesitantly you tasted the broccoli and, surprisingly, you actually liked the vegetable!

Like the aversion many children have to trying new vegetables, many IT workers are opposed to working in contingent positions. Staffing firms and IT leaders often encourage professionals to work in contract positions. But IT professionals hesitate and wonder, “How could contract labor possibly lead to a happy lifestyle?” Seventy-nine percent of IT professionals say they would prefer permanent employment, while only 21 percent say they would prefer contingent work. But like the child who finally tastes the broccoli, most IT professionals who try contracting are satisfied with their jobs and can point to a number of unique benefits of contingent work. The top motivations IT workers identified for working in contingent positions are listed below:

1. The opportunity to learn new skills: With ever-evolving technologies, IT professionals need to constantly up-skill to remain relevant and in-demand. Contingent work is a great way to accomplish this goal. Sixty-eight percent of contingent workers agree that this type of work allows them to sharpen and gain skills, and nearly one-third of those strongly agreed.

2. Higher salary: Contingent IT workers demand higher compensation when compared to permanent workers, and their hourly pay far exceeds the national average. Eighty-five percent of contingent IT workers make more than $20 per hour and about a third earn more than $50 an hour. Project managers fare the best, with two-thirds surpassing the $50 per hour mark.

3. Increased autonomy and ability to choose interesting work: IT professionals want to control the kinds of work that they take on. Contingent work enables this. Fifty-three percent of IT professionals agreed that contingent work has given them more independence around the kind of work and level of control over their environment. 

4. More flexibility in work schedules and better work-life balance: Contingent work allows for flexibility when it comes to areas like the number of hours contractors work per week, the number of months they work per year, the ability to telecommute and the location of their work. This enables a better work-life balance and is a driver for IT professionals to work in contract positions. More than half (52 percent) of IT professionals said that as a contingent worker they have had more control over how, when and where they work.

Some of the other benefits and motivations mentioned included the ability to make an impact, the ability to avoid taking on managerial responsibilities, and more control over career paths. With these benefits, contingent work offers great opportunity for IT professionals.

Unfortunately, the benefits of contingent work go largely unrecognized, just like many children do not recognize how delicious broccoli really tastes! But times are changing. Contingent work has many upsides, and contingent workers tend to be happy in their roles. And even if you still prefer to settle into a permanent position, keep in mind that contingent roles can help you develop a robust resume and expand your skills, which can help you land an appealing perm role.

To read more about the future of contingent IT work and what it means for IT workers and employers, read our white paper, The Contingent Workforce: A Garden Worth Growing

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