MBO Partners Gene Zaino on the Rise of the Independent Worker: Men, Women and Surprise Findings

I recently had the chance to ask Gene Zaino, president and CEO of MBO Partners, to share his comments and thoughts on his firm’s 2014 State of Independence in America workforce study. In this two part-series on Spend Matters, we feature Gene’s perspective on the topic.

Before getting to the start of our interview with Gene, we’ll share one of the highlights from the report: the differing reasons for women and men going independent. In this regard, MBO finds, “Men and women choose to be independent at nearly identical rates, have similar satisfaction levels and plan on staying independent at similar rates … But there is one area where men and women differ: they have different reasons for being independent. Women tend to be more interested in flexibility and developing fulfilling work that fits into their lifestyle. Men tend to focus on being in control, being their own boss and maximizing their income.”

Spend Matters: In comparing your research findings with the anecdotal evidence of a shift to a freelance workforce (e.g., Freelance Nation), what stands out the most to show there’s no moving back?

Gene Zaino: We have 4 years of consistency showing continued growth, but, most importantly, respondents increasing satisfaction while their fears and obstacles are decreasing.

SM: What surprised you the most in the research?

GZ: The fact that this group contributes over $1 trillion to our economy and represent hiring of other contractors that equate to 2.2 million fulltime equivalent jobs.

SM: Should the government embrace this model (e.g., greater tax breaks for self employment) or do you think there will always be a sense of negativity associated with not collecting both sides of the payroll tax?

GZ: Neither. I think private industry will help these independents find easier ways to operate as responsible tax paying businesses, ensuring that both sides of payroll taxes are remitted. This will eliminate the fear to embrace this highly charged economic growth engine (by both government and the companies that want to use them).

Stay tuned as our interview with Gene continues.

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