There is much confusion around whether or not gig workers like their jobs. The reason is the answer depends on which gig workers you ask.
We've done extensive research on this topic and whether or not someone likes gig work tends to boil down to the answers to two questions:
1. Did they choose gig work? People who choose gig work tend to be highly satisfied with it and are likely to say they prefer gig work over having a traditional job. There are several reasons for this.
First, people who choose gig work are more likely to have risk profiles that match gig work, meaning the ability to deal with gig work's lack of security and predictable income. They're also likely to have prepared for doing gig work and have the skills to succeed.
Those who didn't choose gig work, but instead were forced into it due to job loss or the inability to get a job, are likely to be dissatisfied.
Often unprepared for the shift gig work, these folks tend to be less likely to have the psychological risk profile to deal with gig work's uncertainties. They are also less likely to have the skills required for gig work success than those that choose this path.
2. Do they have work flexibility and control? Gig workers who tell us they have work control (meaning they decide or have a reasonable level of control over what work they do and how it's done) and work flexibility (meaning they have control over their work schedule) tend to be very satisfied with gig work.
Key quote from the 2013 MBO Partners State of Independence report on this topic (we partnered with MBO partners on this study):
"... those who create, manage and control their own work assignments, work place and schedules reported very high levels of satisfaction (86% satisfied or highly satisfied) ... few (less than 5%) would prefer having a traditional and almost all plan to continue as independent workers."
Most independent contractors, independent consultants, freelancers and other self-employed workers fall into this category.
These gig workers willingly trade the uncertainty of independent work for the work flexibility, autonomy and control it provides.
Gig workers who do not have work flexibility or control tend to not like gig work. Again from the 2013 State of Independence report on the independent workers without work flexibility and control:
"They are much less satisfied with independent work and almost half (49%) report being dissatisfied. Most (54%) would prefer having a traditional job and only about one third (35%) plan on continuing as an independent worker."
These workers face the worst of both types of employment.
They don't have the security, predictable income and benefits associated with a traditional job. Nor do they have the freedom, flexibility and control independent work can provide. No wonder they're not happy.
Our research indicates temps, on-call workers, day workers and others with little work control often fall into this category.
These findings are echoed in the Intuit study The On-Demand Workforce (we partnered with Intuit on this study).
The study chart below, which is from the Intuit report The Five Faces of the On-Demand Economy shows that satisfaction with on-demand work varies substantially by segment.
See the study report for more on the segments, but the highly satisfied segments are filled with people who chose gig work and have work flexibility and control.
The segments where satisfaction is low contain gig workers who have not chosen this type of work and/or don't feel they have work flexibility and control.
The bottom line is pretty much all the research done in this area shows the majority of gig workers are satisfied and plan to continue as gig workers. It also shows a sizeable minority (in the 30% range) don't like it and small group that is unsure.
We've written many times in the past on this topic. See The Two Sides of the Temp Economy, The Yin and Yang of Freelancing and Autonomy, Control and Self-Employment Satisfaction for more on this.