54% of Hiring Managers and HR Leaders Say Many Employees Leaving Their Companies Are Choosing To Work for Themselves

Wine shop owner holding open sign.
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It’s no secret that the “great Resignation” is not over, as employees are leaving their jobs at rapid speed due, in part, to an increased desire for flexibility. This was underscored by the number of Americans who quit their jobs in October. The number decreased only slightly, to 4.2 million, down from a record 4.4 million in September, according to the Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report that came out on Wednesday, Dec. 8. 

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Now, a new survey conducted by Fiverr International and HR platform Hibob finds that 54% of HR leaders and hiring managers said that workers leaving their companies are not re-entering the traditional workforce. Instead, they are chosing to set up their own shop and work for themselves as freelancers, founders or small business owners.

Ronni Zehavi, CEO of Hibob, told GOBankingRates that people are rethinking their priorities and putting themselves and their happiness first, as they want to find work that is fulfilling and that allows them to enjoy their lives outside of their professional obligations.

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In many cases, he said, freelancing and flexibility go hand-in-hand; it provides more autonomy than many traditional roles. Shifting from a traditional full-time job to a freelance role provides people several benefits, including exploring their passions, controlling their schedule, deciding what projects to take on and where and when to work. In addition, it gives people the opportunity to become a true expert in a niche area, which can pave the way for high earnings.

However, Zehavi added that it also involves a level of risk.

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“While the risk of not succeeding as a freelancer exists just as much now as it had years ago, people are realizing that the current economic situation has created a safety net. Given so many organizations are struggling to hire, people feel confident that they will be able to find a full-time role again easily if they choose not to freelance,” he said.

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 Zehavi added that he believes the freelance trend is here to stay, and companies should be jumping in on this trend and hiring freelancers.

“This is not only a strong tactic to fill hiring gaps, but also allows companies to leverage workers with unique, specialized skill sets that could be valuable for one-off projects, even if not needed year-round for a full-time role,” he said.

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Another key finding of the survey is that it’s not the younger employees who are leaving, despite what most people think. Indeed, 46% said that at their companies, managers and directors are leaving more than entry level employees.

Shany Malbin, general manager of Fiverr Business, told GObankingRates that there’s a common misperception that it’s the younger generation that’s leaving the workforce because they value freedom and flexibility more so than the older generations.

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“In fact, it’s the more experienced, older workers that are leaving,” Malbin said.  “This leaves companies with a massive skills gap — as it’s not entry level positions they need to fill. They need to fill manager and director roles, ones that require years of experience and knowledge. It’s likely these people are leaving to spend more time with family, enjoy the freedom that comes with not being attached to a specific job and have better work life balance.”

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Find: Entry-Level Job Seekers Still Struggling To Get Hired Despite Labor Shortage

Another finding notes that 61% of respondents said that it takes up to six months, on average, to hire new full-time employees, while 39% said it takes more than six months.

Malbin said that while employers are doing a lot to retain their talent now, such as raising wages, allowing them more flexibility to work from home and providing additional perks, such as gym memberships, there is a “real opportunity in retaining talent by preventing burnout — especially during times like this.”

“This means allowing them to scale their teams up and down using freelance talent to adjust for talent gaps. By allowing teams to hire freelance talent at scale, you are ensuring they feel supported in their work and empowered to ask for help,” Malbin said. “You are also preventing burnout by allowing them to take certain tasks off their plate and offload them to someone who is possibly more capable or has more time to complete it.”

See: Why Employers Need To Adapt to Employees Post-Pandemic
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Other strategies to attract and retain employees are to check in with your staff to see how they are feeling, create a recognition culture as well as a culture that is truly diverse, equitable and inclusive, Zehavi said.

“Many organizations have made DE&I a priority but aren’t activating on it the right way. Make it part of your company’s DNA and celebrate differences across the team,” Zehavi said. “Provide opportunities for employees to learn and grow. No one wants to feel stagnant, so setting up clear pathways for continued learning and growth — whether it’s a promotion path or otherwise — will help employees feel like they’re with a company that will be a career for them, not just a job.”  

Zehavi added that culture is key to retaining employees, and to attracting new talent.

“Your employees are your best recruiters, so it’s important to pay close attention to current workers and not just new talent” he added.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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