A growing segment of the American workforce is finding its happy place: People who work for themselves as independent contractors and “gig” workers are notably more satisfied with their jobs than traditional 9-to-5 employees, according to a study by Cheryl Carleton, PhD, assistant professor of Economics, and Mary Kelly, PhD, associate chair of Economics, in the Villanova School of Business.

To compare job satisfaction among Americans working in alternative and traditional jobs, the researchers analyzed data of a representative sample of US workers collected by the University of Chicago.

“We found that people with more control over their schedules and who could choose which tasks they would take on are significantly more satisfied with their work than their peers who hold regular salaried jobs,” Dr. Kelly explains, adding that this is particularly true among women.

It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the entire labor force now works in alternative jobs. While Dr. Carleton and Dr. Kelly don’t anticipate a gig economy takeover, more workers may choose self-employment because of the happiness factor.

“Employers seeking to hire and retain productive and happy workers will need to offer greater autonomy and flexibility so that workers can find their desired work-life balance,” Dr. Carleton says.

>15% of workers participate in the gig economy, according to national workforce surveys

Did You Know?

Dr. Carleton and Dr. Kelly’s research was the subject of a recent episode of VSB’s Inspiring Minds podcast. More than two dozen faculty scholars from across the college have been interviewed on the podcast by VSB students, offering insights into their recent research projects.

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