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Working with Independent Professionals

April 21, 2006
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A new study argues that companies should figure out ways to work with independent professionals, who are happier and better compensated than their traditional counterparts.

The report, from staffing and executive search firm Hudson Highland Group, also finds that so-called "IPros" are more likely to value their workplace autonomy. According to the study, while 86 percent of independent professionals worked full-time at corporations before they became independent, it has been seven years since the typical IPro held a corporate job.

"Smart employers are not only focusing on their full-time employees, but developing strategies to relate to and manage highly skilled professionals who are not under their direct control," Jon Chait, chief executive of Hudson Highland Group, said in a statement.

Independent professionals point to a lack of benefits, such as health insurance and paid vacation, and inconsistencies in their workload as their main problems, according to the study. It surveyed more than 2,100 well-educated and highly paid workers in the United States, Europe and Australia.

The U.S. workforce is increasingly made up of independent contractors, some of whom are professionals. According to the U.S. Labor Department, there were 10.3 million independent contractors in February 2005, accounting for 7.4 percent of total employment. That figure is up from 6.4 percent in February 2001. Of the 10.3 million independent contractors this past February, 18.4 percent were in "professional and related occupations."

Hudson’s conclusion about relatively happy IPros echoes Labor Department research on independent contractors in the U.S published earlier this year. The vast majority of independent contractors--82 percent--preferred their work arrangement to a traditional job, the Labor Department said.

--Ed Frauenheim

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