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Is the UK ready for the gig economy?


LONDON, UK– April 14, 2017 – European employees appear ready to embrace the gig economy, according to research by ADP®, a leading global provider of Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions. The new study of nearly 10,000 European working adults reveals how employees across Europe feel about the future of work. As many as 63% of UK employees and 68% of European employees are interested in, or would consider self-employment or freelancing. The desire for this style of working does change drastically across regions (see chart 1).


Work-life balance

There are a multitude of factors playing into the increased prevalence of gig economy jobs. 28% of employees say maintaining a work-life balance is the most important factor motivating them at work, and the gig economy is typically associated with workers being able to choose their own hours. However, self-employed workers in the UK actually consider themselves to have the poorest work life balance compared to the other industries, with only 81% feeling that they have a good work life balance, compared to 84% nationally.

Despite this, those who are already self-employed report higher levels of job satisfaction (75% are satisfied vs. 70% on average). 39% of self-employed workers say that the key motivator for them is the ability to work where and when they want to, as well as having good work-life balance (30%).

The desire for flexible working locations and hours does change drastically across different demographics. For instance, wishing for complete flexibility in working hours and location increases for older workers (see chart 2), whilst the interest in a mixed form of flexibility in hours and location decreases with age (see chart 3).


Is it all about the money?

Pay comes in as the most important factor in motivation and engagement (47%), so it is no surprise that many people are taking jobs in which they can choose hours and therefore income levels. However, this could also indicate that many people are joining the gig economy out of necessity, rather than choice. Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK, says “While the gig economy brings with it many benefits for both employers and workers, such as a varied and accessible talent pool and increased control over working hours, it can also be a challenging experience. Employers may lose individuals with valuable expertise, while the workers themselves may not gain the control they had hoped, due to the fear of turning down work and not being offered it again. Employers should ensure that they are providing excellent career development opportunities and that they treat workers respectfully so that they gain their loyalty and protect their brand, while people considering a gig economy job should think carefully before embarking on a freelance basis, ensuring they have carefully weighed up the positives and negatives associated with this working style.”

Chart 1: Total number of employees interested in freelancing or self-employment - by country
Chart 2: Total number of UK employees interested in complete flexibility - by age
Chart 3: Total number of UK employees interested in some type of flexibility - by age

About the research

‘The Workforce View in Europe 2017’ report explores the attitudes of employees toward the future of work. The research for ADP was carried out by independent market research agency Opinion Matters in July 2016. The sample consisted of 9,920 working adults in eight key economies across Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

The full report, The Workforce View in Europe 2017, is available on here or on request to your media contact.



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Media Contacts:
Laura Brooks, Flagship Consulting
Sarah Callaghan, Flagship Consulting
Tom Jenkin, Flagship Consulting
Claire Nelson, Flagship Consulting
020 7680 7104