6 out of 10 freelancers not looking to return to salaried employment

18 April 2024 Consultancy.eu 4 min. read
More news on

62% of highly-educated freelancers in Europe are satisfied with self-employment and are not interested in returning to full-time employment, according to a study from online freelance platform Malt.

The survey probed more than 5,000 freelancers in six European countries on how they view their work and the prevailing market conditions. There was significant variation between countries, but overall, most prefer being freelance to salaried employment.

The survey shows that the average freelancer has quite a few years of experience under their belt. On average, freelancers tend to have around seven years of experience as full-time employees before they transition to freelance work. The vast majority reported being satisfied with their choice to become self-employed.

6 out of 10 freelancers not looking to return to salaried employment

Source: Malt, Freelancing in Europe

Only 10% of freelancers in the six countries surveyed are actively looking for salaried employment. The vast majority (61%) are content enough with freelance work that they are not interested in seeking full-time employment.

This percentage is even higher in countries like Germany and the Netherlands, where freelancers enjoy more favorable conditions than, say, in Spain. The group in between can be described as floating – they are considering the switch, but are not actually actively seeking a salaried position.

6 out of 10 freelancers not looking to return to salaried employment

Source: Malt, Freelancing in Europe

The researchers noted that the low percentage of freelancers who want to return to paid employment is striking. That is because in periods of more economic uncertainty – like what Europe is currently going through – that percentage often increases, with workers seeking more stability.

6 out of 10 freelancers not looking to return to salaried employment

Source: Malt, Freelancing in Europe

The research suggests several possible explanations for the continued popularity of freelancing:

The freelancing market is doing well

The market for freelance work is currently seen as quite strong. Demand has not fallen as was the case during previous periods of economic instability. More than half of all freelancers have told Malt that they receive as many or more project proposals as they did a year ago. A total of 54% of freelancers also see no difference in the time customers take to sign a contract.

6 out of 10 freelancers not looking to return to salaried employment

Source: Malt, Freelancing in Europe

Higher income

A total of 72% of freelancers indicate that their income as a freelancer is the same or higher than when they were full-time employees. For some countries that percentage is higher than the average.

More autonomy

A large number of respondents indicate that the autonomy and freedom that freelancing offers is the main reason they prefer being self-employed.

For example, three-quarters (74%) of freelancers indicate that they would refuse an assignment if a client's values ​​do not match their own. Because freelancers often have so much freedom of choice, they are free to choose the projects that give them the most satisfaction.

6 out of 10 freelancers not looking to return to salaried employment

Source: Malt, Freelancing in Europe

More variety

Life as a freelancer means that professionals can work on various projects for different clients and in different sectors. Many freelancers really appreciate this greater variety, in contrast to the often-times monotonous routine they would experience as a fixed employee of a company.

A previous study from Malt found that freelancing is particularly popular among (former) management consultants. suggesting that 7 in 10 consultants could go freelance by 2033.