One of the goals of our research is to get more balanced coverage of the self-employed. Governments, academics and the media mostly present the negatives of self-employment.
A couple of recent examples caught my eye.
My favorite is a headline from the Guardian and discusses a recent survey showing the vast majority of British self-employed workers said they were happier and more satisfied than if they had a traditional job.
The Guardian's headline read Self-employed are worse off but enjoy greater satisfaction, report says. The article explains self-employed are worse off because they make less money.
Maybe I'm wrong here, but if I'm more satisfied and happier I'm probably not worse off.
Also, if I'm willing to earn less so I have a job I like and lead a happier life, I think that's good not bad. In fact, I've made such a decision in my life and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Another article on the same study covered a different set of data.
The Financial Times headline read Quarter of self-employed want secure job, survey finds. The article then discusses how bad this situation is.
The article mentions 75% of the respondents prefer being self-employed and don't want to return to traditional employment, but just barely.
It doesn't mention the low levels of engagement and happiness that exist among those that have a traditional job. To learn more about this, see the New York Times article Why You Hate Work.
Don't get me wrong - I don't think self-employment is for everyone and being self-employed is not easy. We can this the Yin and Yang of self-employment.
We also know a lot of contingent workers are stuck in low skill positions with poor working conditions and limited protection against abusive and/or unsafe labor practices. This is the dark side of contingent work and we need better laws and legal enforcement to stop these practices.
But most self-employed prefer being self-employed over traditional employment. Our research - and the research of many others - confirm this. We'd like to see more recognition of this among the media, academia and government.