6 Ways Millennial and Gen Z Talent are Changing the Independent Workforce

By MBO Partners | September 14, 2022

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Key Points

Independents fill an important need for organizations today, providing much-needed skills, flexibility, and agility.

Gen Z and Millennials are well-suited to independent work.

Independent work allows Gen Z and Millennials to build a career and pursue a passion while embracing greater work-life flexibility.

Millennials and Gen Z now outnumber the combined ranks of Baby Boomers and Generation X, making up 51 percent of the independent workforce. Independents fill an important need for organizations today, providing much-needed skills, flexibility, and agility.    

At the same time, these two generations have found a welcome place in the independent workforce. They can build a career and pursue a passion while building a life with greater flexibility that isn’t centered around an office. Here are six ways Gen Z and millennial independent contractors are changing the independent workforce.

1. They Have an Independent Mindset

People have many reasons for going independent including the opportunity for greater flexibility, the chance to earn more money, and the desire to control their own schedule. Millennials and Gen Z value work-life balance, making them a good match for independent work.  

As an independent professional you are in control of your own hours, how you complete your work, and where you spend your time. In fact, roughly half of Gen Z expects to be running their own business in the next 10 years. 

Next: 5 Reasons to Hire Independent Contractors  

 2. They are familiar with the Side Hustle

Today, ‘side hustle’ is a familiar term to most. As people look for ways to earn additional income, add skills to their resume, or make ends meet, they will take on work in addition to a regular job. This work is often based around a certain set of skills or expertise and may lead to building an independent business in the future. 

For Millennials and Gen Z in particular, a side hustle is an opportunity to branch out from the daily grind of a 9-5 job. Of those who started working as part-time independents in 2020, 73 percent cited supplementing their income as a reason for going independent.

3. They have Digital Knowledge 

Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with technology and are comfortable integrating social media into their daily lives. Digital knowledge is incredibly helpful when running an independent business because marketing via a professional website and social media is a must to promote your services and find clients.  

These generations are comfortable with finding work online and promoting their skills. They are much more likely than older generations to use an online marketplace to find projects and have a generally positive outlook on how automation can benefit their work and careers.  

Next: The Rise of the Influencer: How the Creator Economy is Giving Entrepreneurs New Independence 

4. They appreciate work-Life flexibility 

The vast majority of Gen Z—62 percent—want to make a living from doing what they are passionate about. They see independent work as a tangible way to achieve this goal. As more organizations embrace remote and project-based work, the traditional hiring model of long-term employment is becoming less desirable.  

This is beneficial to enterprises from a financial and skills-access perspective, but it also appeals to generations who want to work this way. Hiring the right talent can give your company a distinct competitive advantage, so why not embrace Gen Z and Millennial independent professionals who bring in-demand skills and staffing flexibility to the table?

5. They have an Entrepreneurial Spirit

Gen Z and Millennial independent contractors are creative. Being digitally literate, they know how to work remotely and communicate successfully online. Unlike older generations, there’s not much of a learning curve when it comes to client work. Being digitally literate, Millennials and Gen Z know how to work remotely and communicate successfully online. 

Their skills cover a wide range of fields: information technology, education, consulting, research, marketing, accounting, and more. And many independents from these generations will even team together to take on a bigger project or deliverable. 

6. They are Ideal Candidates for an Independent Work Lifestyle

Gen Z and Millennials value mental well-being and want healthy relationships with their clients. Independent work offers an opportunity for them to directly manage their stress levels by having a better hold over when, where, and how they work. 

They seek out work environments where they can build skills and clients who respect their ability to control their work and schedule. In order to be competitive in attracting and retaining the top Gen Z and Millennial independent talent, companies should become familiar with these needs and structure processes and procedures accordingly. 

Next: Attract and Retain Top Talent by Becoming a Client of Choice 


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